If the point of spending millions on a Superbowl ad is to get people talking about your company, German car maker Audi has hit the bullseye. Its "Green Police" ad (in which citizens are arrested in their homes and backyards for violating eco regulations) is being discussed across the political spectrum.
Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder - and the responses to last night's Audi ad reveal a great deal about our worldviews and our values.
Scott Cooney, who writes for TriplePundit.com, is a vegetarian green entrepreneur who thinks communal meals and shared organic gardening add up to a good time. He says the Audi spot was "yet another perhaps well-intentioned ad that casts environmentalists, frankly, as wack-jobs."
Yeah, that happens all the time, doesn't it? I mean, I can't go anywhere without bumping into an advert in which greens are belittled by businesses trying to sell stuff.
Cooney thinks this one-minute spot was "offensive" and so effective that "Middle America just took another unneeded step away from feeling that sustainability is cool, easy, and normal."
Adam Siegel, the author of the Get Energy Smart! NOW! blog, accuses Audi of airing the "most environmentally unfriendly Superbowl ad." This gent lives in a humorless world of "environmentally-sensible communications" and "Dorito ads that are far from environmentally friendly."
Quelle surprise that he regards the Audi ad as "offensive and counterproductive on many levels." He's annoyed that it links "‘going green’...[with] heading toward a police state" and declares it "a very destructive perspective."
Although this would be a perfect opportunity for him to declare his own allegiance to both the environment and personal liberty, he instead implies that the only people who worry about "threats to civil liberty" are militant conservatives who want to "undermine public support for serious action to address America’s oil dependency" yadda, yadda.
The New York Times, meanwhile, is dismissive. "This misguided spot put the 'mental' in 'environmental,'" sniffs Stuart Elliott. Over at the Wall Street Journal, the Audi ad has so far received the most votes for best Superbowl ad 2010 and the most votes for the worst one.
At libertarian Reason.com, editor-in-chief Nick Gillespie says the ad presents a "vision of a future that is almost the present." His readers, meanwhile, declare that they "won't be lectured to by loons," that the ad is "Hilarious, creepy and upbeat all at the same time," that "it came across as endorsing crazy greenishness," and that "the people I watched it with (all lefties) loved it." Notes another: "after a few brews it was a bit tricky to pick up on irony."
And then there's Bob Ellis, the owner of DakotaVoice.com, which examines "issues of interest to conservatives and Christians." He declares the Audi ad "downright offensive and not the least bit funny." He talks about "enviro-idiots," "green wackos," "greenies," "earth-worshipping morons," "socialists" and "fascism." He also manages to fit it in a reference to an "animal rights wacko."
In his opinion, the Audi ad "is presented with too much seriousness to be taken any other way than as approval of...[green] Gestapo tactics." Nevertheless, four paragraphs later, he admits that its creators have "unintentionally done real people a service here" by portraying a possible nightmare future. By the last line, he can't decide whether he wants to slap Audi or thank them.
So what would Jesus do? Call people who disagree with him a few more names?
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