The ad that glorifies cheating.

Advertising deconstructed.
Nov. 24 2003 12:24 PM

Your Cheatin' Cart

The problem with Hummer's new ad.

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3. What about the poor dog? We see it left abandoned in its now-useless doghouse, peering sadly through gaping holes where the slats the kid stole used to be. Conclusion: The Hummer kid hoards earth's precious resources, sating his own vanity at the expense of less fortunate, voiceless members of society.

Of course, some will love the shameless Hummer kid and his take-no-prisoners, win-at-all-costs individualism. Not coincidentally, these are the sort of people who buy Hummers. It would make no sense for the company to aim this spot at folks craving a quiet, go-along-get-along image, because those people aren't buying 40-ton cars. The Hummer kid is a me-first kid, and the Hummer is without doubt a me-first vehicle.

But the company tries to have it both ways. By showing us that the kid has devised a novel race strategy, worked hard to build his ramshackle entry, and gotten ridiculed at the start line, Hummer tries to steal back a little respect and good will. The ad also lets the Hummer buyer spin his purchase as an act of clever outsiderism, recasting his inner bully as a scrappy underdog. It failed to convert me, but then I drive a 1992 Honda Accord.

As the kid crosses the finish line, the Who sings, "And they couldn't prevent Jack from feeling happy," and that's an appealing notion: No one can stop me from being happy, once I've got my Hummer. No one, I tell you! To my eyes, though, as the kid closes out his no doubt soon-to-be-disputed soapbox victory, he looks less happy than determined and grim.

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Grade: B. Probably the most memorable car ad since Volkswagen's "Mr. Blue Sky" spot. Points off for moral bankruptcy.