A Bummer Hummer TV Ad

Jade Moon
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Wednesday - August 09, 2006
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I just saw a commercial that made me sit up and say, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.”

The scenario: Mom and kid at playground. Pushy child elbows way in front to get on the slide first. Polite mom explains sweetly that they were next in line. Obnoxious mom says with a supercilious sneer, “Well now we’re next.”

Meek mom is devastated. She has lost face. She looks like a weak, simpering idiot in front of her child. So what does she do? How can she reclaim her place in the playground pecking order?

She buys a Hummer.

Yup. That’s all it takes to make our humiliated mother feel like a real woman again. You just go out and buy a gas-guzzling, space-hogging modified military machine, and your kid will be lord of the jungle gym set again. None of the other moms dares mess with you because you are the queen tita.

Talk about making big body. (Just for balance, there is a male version as well: Mocked by a meat-buying dude at the market for having tofu in his cart, the guy solves everything with a Hummer.)

This is wrong on so many levels.

First and foremost is the moronic message it’s sending to its target audience - self-esteem challenged suburbanites. Need an ego boost? Buy a big bully car and get instant respect, environment be damned.

So what if the EPA calculates the Hummer emits more than 10 tons of greenhouse gases per year?

And who cares that gasoline is a diminishing fossil fuel resource that not only holds us hostage to outside forces, but also pollutes the air and contributes to what most reputable scientists agree is a crisis-in-the-making - global warming?

The makers of the Hummer don’t think you’ll care, as long as you can impress your friends and your enemies. Take note: The ad isn’t targeted to the rich and the powerful, but to the middle class and powerless.

Somehow I think people are smarter than that. Sales of the Hummer are slipping as the price of gasoline is climbing. It is no longer chic to own the biggest car on the block. Gas-guzzlers are out; energy-efficient hybrids are in. Sure, there are a lot more SUVs on the road right now, but the people inside are beginning to sit up and take notice when a Prius drives by. It just makes sense.

Automakers know that Americans identify with their cars. But slowly, I think, more of us are changing the way we think about our vehicles and ourselves - something too many manufacturers are failing to understand. The old king-of-the-road mentality is finally giving way to a realization that we are connected to our local and global communities and to our environment.

That lady in the Hummer commercial represents a dying breed in the struggle between brains and brawn. Boosting self-esteem by buying a muscle car isn’t really considered cool anymore. Being smart, frugal and environmentally conscious is. Clinging to the old mindset is way too expensive, and I’m not just talking money.

I’m talking about the cost to our world.

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