Just after GM got in trouble for airing a Super Bowl ad about a robot dreams about committing suicide, Volkswagen started running a commercial in which a man threatens to jump off a building–complaining about global warming, alienation from his neighbors and reality TV–until someone drives up and tells him that VW is selling three “V-Dubs” for under $17,000. He now has a reason to live.
I was all jazzed for suicide-prevention groups to ignore this ad because it didn’t air at the Super Bowl, thus offering them less of a chance for free publicity-by-indignation. Sadly, they disappointed me by having principles. From today’s press release:
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), American Psychiatric Association (APA), Mental Health America (MHA), and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) have joined together to urge Volkswagen to pull this ad and encourage the company to act responsibly, just as General Motors did last week.
I still don’t get the equivalence here. Again, folks: Robot. Human. Robot dreaming about suicide. Human actually plotting suicide.
I won’t miss the VW ad, though. The GM spot was clever and essentially light. The VW ad was morbid and, bizarrely, reminds the viewer of the actual real-world problems they’re watching TV to escape. (Except for the reality TV.)
But that’s all window dressing. Really, the admakers deserve to be publicly shamed for trying to popularize the phrase “V-Dubs.”