General Motors has pulled an ad targeted at college students that implied riding a bike was uncool and awkward.
The ad, which ran in college publications, shows a woman riding in the passenger seat of a car and seemingly laughing at a college-aged male biker, who is portrayed as embarrassed and tries to hide his face.
“Reality sucks,” the ad reads. “Luckily the GM college discount doesn’t. … Stop pedaling…start driving.”
The backlash against the ad was widespread, with the League of American Bicyclists providing some awesome sarcastic commentary on what they called “one of the more remarkably ill-conceived car ad campaigns of all time.” They write:
If you are a student looking to add tens of thousands of dollars of long term debt, care little about the environment, and want to lump two tons of steel around campus while paying through the nose for insurance, gas, and parking… General Motors has got a perfect deal for you. Bonus: it’ll make you fat and unhealthy! All you have to do is give up that dorky bicycle that’s easy to use, practically free, gets you some exercise and is actually fun to ride.
An GM spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times that the ad—which was turned into a poster and plastered around campuses—was intended to be “a bit cheeky and humorous and not meant to offend anybody.” The company also apologized extensively on Twitter, directly responding to many who had complained about the mockery of bikers.
Recent data show that young Americans are already driving less than they were in 2001.