Monday, April 7, 2008

Bicycle as Marketing Tool

There are several TV commercials running on TV, that feature bicycles prominently.

A couple of 'em are yuppie-oriented "financial" commercials. In one, the lone sprinter, attired in red, is way out in front of the pack. But then, the disciplined, working-together blue team slowly reels the sprinter in and overtakes him, leaving him and the peloton in the dust. (Losers!) Of course, the blue team represents the services offered by this particuar investment firm.

In another commercial, a group of yuppie-types is riding along the coastline, and pause to enjoy the magnificent whale that's leaping out of the ocean. (It's that "whale" life insurance company. I believe the message is, if you take advantage of their services, you can join your retired yuppie friends in bike rides along the coast to see the whales, instead of being the greeter at Wal-Mart.)

At least in those two commercials, bicycles are portrayed as a positive, desirable sort of thing.

I saw another commercial - from State Farm Auto Insurance - this morning for the first time.

In the commercial, gas has become so prohibitively expensive that a suit-wearing businessman has abandoned his car for a bicycle. Of course, the fact that he rides a bike makes him the target of scorn and derision from his fellow workers. (Perhaps the ridicule is understandable, since he's dressed in a shirt, tie, jacket, and shorts.) Imagine! The pathetic loser is riding a bike! The point of the commercial seems to be - if he calls State Farm and saves $ on his car insurance, the savings will let him get back into his single-occupant vehicle, and rejoin life's winners.

Yeah, I s'pose it's understandable that a company that sells auto insurance wants everybody to drive a car. After all the businessman is saving on both gas and insurance by switching to a bicycle.


Clancy said...

I have heard about the commercial but have not seen it. A bike lifestyle is a big threat to the insurance companies.

Clancy said...

Found it. Silly company. or

Bikeboy said...

That is the ad, Clancy.

A quick web search revealed that I'm not the first person to question the portrayal of a cyclist in the ad. State Farm responds by declaring how earth-friendly they are, and how they encourage their employees to use alternative transportation, etc., etc. (Behind the scenes, so nobody will notice.)