Cyclists can’t get laid

Posted on by TheLastPsychiatrist and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

GM bike adCeci n’est pas un homme sur une bicyclette.

GM Pulls Ad Suggesting Cyclists Can’t Get Girls

Check out this new print ad that the automaker has been running, to promote its college discount. A man on a bike hides his face in embarrassment as an attractive woman rides by in the passenger seat of a car, smiling at his pathetic-ness, apparently. The message isn’t subtle: Riding a bike is hazardous to your sex life.

The message may not be subtle, but it still got interpreted incorrectly.

The criticism is that it suggests cyclists can’t get girls. But this isn’t what the ad says or means, or how it “speaks” to the demographic it is for. It’s not saying he can’t get girls, it is saying he can’t get girls who are in cars.

Who is the ad for? It is for college students. Remember that all ads sell a product and an aspirational image. The product is the car, the image is of adulthood.

Job, car, home, wife/husband– these are the symbols of adulthood, whether you want them or not.

The woman– not a girl because she already has the symbol of adulthood– is looking for an adult. He’s not “a cyclist.” He’s “a college kid.”

Notice also that the woman is a passenger in the car. Who do you think is driving? The implication to the demographic is that she’s with a guy who is an adult; not a guy who simply owns a car. (When a father gets his daughter a car, it is so that she isn’t dependent on some other guy with a car.)

What GM’s ad agency should have done to make the ad effective is put the college girl on the bike looking at a college guy with his bike in the car, pulling into the parking lot of a mountain bike trail. Now adulthood is signified by the car; the (male) sexual power and adulthood is conveyed by the bike being subsumed in the car; and placing the car higher up on the mountain can imply power. 

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14 Responses to Cyclists can’t get laid

  1. heysherri says:

    I want to try. I think the ad is saying “Your bike makes you look poor.” Let us help you mortgage your future. That degree you’re working on isn’t worthless.

  2. stiffbreeze says:

    The shirt with tie shows he is a recent graduate who still hasn’t transitioned from bike (student) to car (post-student). The ad however is positioned to current students, telling them a delayed bike to car transition post-graduation is highly detrimental for connecting genitals (with the type of woman who cares if a man drives a car). A simple solution to this problem is offered on the right hand side, reading like any math equation (i.e. 2+2 =4).

  3. Minerva says:

    I thought (hoped?) this was an ad from the 70s, then I saw the facebook sign at the bottom.

  4. antoinebugleboy says:

    I think she’s looking at his junk with that smirk of hers.

  5. DGS says:

    Any guy who hides his face from a hot girl is not going to sexually benefit from any of the products offered today, except the Fleshlight.

    I love the “if you’re in college, a grad program, or even a recent grad

    Look, we need to sell these fucking things. Get one already!

  6. Guy Fox says:

    What GM’s ad agency should have done to make the ad effective is put the college girl on the bike looking at a college guy with his bike in the car, where his even hotter girlfriend is also sitting, pulling into the parking lot of a mountain bike trail. Now adulthood is signified by the car; the (male) sexual power and adulthood is conveyed by the bike being subsumed in the car with the superhot girlfriend; and placing the car higher up on the mountain can imply power. and the girl watching from the bike eats her heart out

    Hypothetically speaking, if I feel an overwhelming urge to bathe in bleach now, just for kicks, what’s the worst that can happen if I do?

  7. AnonymousAtLarge says:

    Part of the appeal of the advertisement is that it is funny. It’s funny that this man, so obviously exposed on a bike, is using his HAND to hide his face. That, visually, is hilarious. IT is also funny that this woman is side eyeing him with an “aw poor you” grin, meanwhile she is clearly removed/shielded from him in her (GM) car. The use of a car as armor is also apparent in this advertisement, as young people often feel awkward and use objects (hair, baggy clothes, dark makeup, piercing/tats) to hide themselves or give themselves power.

    Your hypothetical advertisement is not as effective. It’s just another boring car advertisement with an attractive yuppie couple proving they can go bike ride in their GM car (yea right – people get fatter because of cars, NO ONE bike rides more if they own a car : lying to people that their car will make them fit and healthy is seldom believed, we all know we are just gonna fat our way to walmart on the highway in our car… it doesn’t stop car companies from trying this ubiquitous ad which I jsut glaze over when I see yet another version of it).

    This advertisement is, also, unique, therefore effective as it is memorable. GM is the car with the exposed guy using his teeny tiny hand as a shield, with the lady in her nice car protected/above him, laughing.

  8. AnonymousAtLarge says:

    I also think this ad is effective because it appeals to men and women equally.

    Men secretly think “oh god I don’t want women to laugh/reject me”. Everyone (including women) think “hahaha that shmuck with the tiny hand awww”.

    He-man with college girl in a car he controls… only appeals to men, and barely, because there are so many versions of this ad that it’s just like, zzzz.

  9. Or says:

    Looks like the democratizing power of the internet has allowed a bunch of angry people to get a big corporation to give in to their demands on a very important issue. I can see the economy turning around already.

  10. JohnJ says:

    “Who is the ad for? It is for college students. ”

    Close, but not specific enough. This ad is for college students who ride bikes. The reason why they did it this way instead of your suggestion is because they’re trying to appeal to those who have already had the experience of being embarrassed by being seen on a bicycle. I’m sure they’ve run other ads as well. This is just one designed for those who’ve had the experience.

    I don’t think they were trying to make the statement that men should be embarrassed to be seen on a bicycle. I think they were simply acknowledging men are embarrassed to be seen on a bicycle (when it’s a result of not having a car). Men who ride bikes but who also have a car do not experience this embarrassment. It’s like the guy who brown bags it because he has to is often embarrassed by his lunch, but the guy who brown bags it when he has a million bucks in the bank isn’t. We always think people can tell the difference.

  11. Pastabagel says:

    The ad also reinforces the idea that cars are an important part of your masculine identity. By arguing about whether or not a guy being on a bike has to hide his face from a pretty girl, we are all agreeing that he wouldn’t have to hide his face if he were in a car because tacitly we’ve bought into the idea that the kind of car we drives defines who we are (as opposed to being a reflection of who we are).

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