No Such Nonsense

A little of this, that and... what was I talking about again? It's TV, sports, pop culture and politics - all the stuff that really matters in life.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

GM's Ad Suicide

So a few weeks ago we're sitting around watching some football game - okay, it was the Superbowl - and we're treated to a brand spanking new commercial from GM. It starts out on an assembly line. One of the robots makes a mistake and drops a screw. He/it is promptly fired. The next few scenes play out to that saddest of songs "All by Myself." The robot is forced to take on menial jobs. He looks wistfully at all the beautiful GM cars that drive by. Cut to sad robot standing on a bridge. One last wistful glance and the robot leaps to its watery end. Cut back to the factory where we see it was all just a dream. Sad robot goes back to work, careful not to drop any more screws, and continues his job yet more obsessed with quality. It's a wonderful life, sort of.

You can see the ad here. Except you can't. Not really. Because GM has re-edited the ending. Now, sad robot sees a pile of cars at the auto-wrecker and snaps back to reality.

Here's the original ad, as it aired on Superbowl Sunday.

I have to say, when we were watching the ad live, at the point where the robot is standing on the bridge I said: "They couldn't. They wouldn't dare. There is no way that robot jumps" He/it jumped.

I guess, it could have been the recipe for some serious buzz - the chance for GM to have one of the most-talked about commercials on the air. And it was talked about, all right. And condemned. And vilified. And mercilessly mocked. And you have to wonder how GM didn't see it coming. Not all buzz is good buzz.

See, GM tried to make suicide funny. And the ad is a little funny, if you can forget about the context. The context of someone who has lost a loved one to suicide watching that ad. Or the context of one of the many thousands of laid-off U.S. auto-workers now struggling to survive watching that ad. But if you do think about the context, you have to concede that the ad doesn't pass the most basic of good taste tests. And it does no good to argue that the robot is just a robot. The whole build up of the ad is to show us that this robot has feelings.

And even worse, the ad has the whiff of a rip-off. To me, it feels not a million miles from the ad I consider one of the best of all time. As with so many things, Ikea gets it just right. And GM? Not even close.


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