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Scion: Using Bikes to Sell Cars (to Sell Bikes?)

Here's one you might file under Not Ad Nauseum: a new commercial with bikes being used in a positive way to have fun, recreate and see your city.  The product being pitched?  The new Toyota Scion. Watch below.

First off, this is a very nice, hip and pretty ad.  It introduces us to Daniel Farahirad, a bicycle retailer in downtown L.A., who uses a Scion to (sometimes) transport his bike out of the city to ride and race. Compared to many of the ways car commercials demonize or make fun of cycling, it's a welcome addition.

But the intent is clear: with car ownership down among the younger demographics and Americans in general driving less, car companies need to up their game and market the car as groovy and more attractive, especially to twenty-somethings. The spot ends with a narrator question, "Making Cars Moves Us, What Moves You?"

According to iSpot.tv, since this commercial debuted in February, it has only aired about 100 times nationally.  I've noticed it mostly airing on networks like MTV, G4 and Comedy Central, younger watchers on those networks for sure.

One thing I noticed, in every shot the cyclists are wearing helmets - yes even inside the car - which we know is not a reality in the real world.  At one point the shop owners are shown fitting a younger rider before a group jaunt on city streets.

Although I am sure some cyclists may still take issue with the spot, there are quite a number of fun scenes of city riding, which is refreshing in any commercial featuring bikes.

As usual, as I keep an eye on the airwaves. I welcome your thoughts.


  • http://twitter.com/toddedelman toddedelman

    "This mess of a city." I bet a lot of bike shop owners use a car less than this guy.

    Does the Scion have an external airbag? Cyclist-detection-and-brake system? No tailpipe emissions? Maximum speed of 45mph in the city? No no no and no.

    Another ad called a "film". SO tired of that. It is so fake.The shop seems okay, but nothing special. No good and modern cargo bikes...

  • http://brooklynspoke.wordpress.com Doug G.

    Finally! A car commercial that shows drivers and passengers being safe and wearing helmets!

  • http://twitter.com/Commute_by_Bike Commute by Bike

    Mixed feelings. This message is trying to say, "Hey cyclists, you can own a car and still be cool! Please?"

    On one hand, it's just marketing. On the other hand, it's kind of a bellwether -- when in ads for cars, cycling is used as something other than a cautionary tale. (Don't let cycling happen to you.)

    Clarence: Would you (or anyone) take a $10 bet that in the next five years we will see an auto-industry ad where both (a) cycling is portrayed positively, and (b) the cyclists portrayed are not all wearing helmets? My bet is against it.


  • http://www.cyclelicio.us/ Cyclelicious

    Car retailers have aimed for the fairly wealthy cycling demographic forever: Subaru ads in every bike magazine on the planet for the past two decades along with their consistent sponsorship of racing teams, Volkswagen's significant contribution to Bikes Belong last year along with lots of booth space at several local bike events (and their longtime sponsorship of race teams too), Ford's big splash at Interbike in 2010, so on and so forth.

    The reality is that many people using bikes for sport feel like they need a vehicle with some storage space to transport the bike to their events.  

    Although I enjoy the activity,  I don't mountain bike because it's usually a long slog to the trailhead, for example. When I attend the Sea Otter Festival in Monterey every April, I hitch a ride or use ZipCar to drive, because the 100 mile round trip from my home in Santa Cruz makes me worthless if I bike to the venue (although we now have an almost reasonable public transport option for the first time ever  beginning this year).

  • Clarence Eckerson

    I would never take that bet.  For the next 50 years, if there is a bike in a tv ad, the person will always be wearing a helmet.

  • Jack-a-roe

    I don't think cars and bikes have to be an either/or proposition. And, that's OK. Also, am I missing something...is there something wrong with wearing a helmet?

  • Steven Bercu

    Pretty clearly Toyota hopes that some of cycling's "cool" can somehow rub off on its cars.Nothing is ever going to make driving seem cool in my opinion, but it is refreshing to see cycling and driving portrayed as complementary activities rather than the usual them/us, bikes vs. cars mentality.