Thursday, February 08, 2007

GM Runs a Stupid Ad

OK, I’ll admit it, I didn’t watch the Super Bowl.  It’s been a few years since my local team (San Francisco 49ers) was anywhere near it, and to be honest, my interest level in professional football has diminished over time.

But I was alerted this morning by a friend of mine, Mary Ojakian, about a truly stupid ad that General Motors ran during the game.  They are currently featuring the ad on their website.  In it, a despondent robot, which (who?) has been laid off due to making a mistake during production, jumps off a bridge during a dream sequence. 

Mary and her husband Vic’s son, Adam, committed suicide a few years ago at the age of 21.  He was despondent over his grades, from what the family has been able to piece together from his last months.  His death rocked our community and inspired Mary and Vic to get involved with a variety of suicide prevention activities.  I’ve been a supporter of their work, as suicide has been a scourge in our community for several years now. 

So to see this ad, and GM’s response to the furor—“GM officials said they won’t pull or change the ad. It’s ‘a story of GM’s commitment to quality It is not intended to offend anyone,’ spokeswoman Ryndee Carney said.”—makes me wonder whether the people who put these ads together have souls.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) has asked GM to pull the ad.  Click here for their statement.

According to the ASFP, suicide is a major public health problem that has claimed the lives of over 300,000 people in the United States over the past 10 years—with approximately one million suicide attempts each year—taking an enormous toll on families, friends, classmates, co-workers and communities. More than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable, treatable mental disorder and are suffering. Suicide is currently the fourth leading cause of death among adults aged 18-65 and the third leading cause of death among youth aged 15-24.

Research has also shown that graphic, sensationalized or romanticized descriptions of suicide deaths in any medium can contribute to suicide contagion, popularly referred to as “copycat” suicides.

In spite of all that, GM thinks that having a robot dream about suicide somehow indicates that everyone who works on their cars is committed to quality.  I don’t get it. 

I’m in the market for a new car nowadays—time to replace that old Mom car at last—and this ad helps me remove GM cars from the list. 

Posted by twcarey on 02/08 at 02:26 PM
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