Ad watch: The emergence of “carfun”

Posted by on August 15th, 2008 at 2:06 pm

(Photo © J. Maus)

Here in Portland, the “bike fun” movement is alive and well.

What is bike fun? Well, it’s sort of a broad term (not sure who coined it, but I suspect it was popularized by an early pioneer of Shift) that encapsulates the fun-loving, free-spirited, enjoy-yourself-at-all-costs approach to riding bikes that is so common here.

Bike fun is important X factor that helps foster Portland’s bike-friendly status. It allows people to make a subtle statement (“we’re having fun, join us!”) that is an appealing option compared to more traditional bike activism and advocacy. It’s so subtle in fact, that many people partake in bike fun for the fun itself, and couldn’t care less about any statement it might be making.

So I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that a savvy marketing team working for the automaker Mini would catch on. Check out Mini’s new ad campaign:

While some automakers are dealing with their hard times by upping their green credentials or shuttering entire factories, Mini has coined the term “carfun” and hopes to convince people that driving can be fun and environmentally O.K..

Here’s their ad copy:

“See how you can hug trees and corners at the same time. Having fun on the road isn’t just possible, it’s environmentally attainable.”

And they’ve even got an online tool that lets folks calculate their “Carfun Footprint” which they define as, “the measure of how much fun your car is versus the impact it has on the environment”.

In my mind, there’s simply no comparison between bikes and cars in the fun department, but let’s just hope carfun doesn’t catch on the way bike fun has.

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a.O
Guest

There is also no comparison between anything with an internal combustion engine and a bike in the environmental impact department, and pretending otherwise is simply greenwashing.

me
Guest
me

I agree with a.O, greenwashing is all to common and unfortunately it seems to work so I don\’t see it going anywhere soon. Although I think its a pretty low tactic and I wish companies like wallmart would stop pretending being environmentally friendly

Troy
Guest
Troy

(Jonathan, personal peeve of mine, should be \”couldn\’t care less\”.)

jack
Guest
jack

hmmm…by my off the cuff calculations,considering mode share %\’s (5% bikes/95% cars) and the mini\’s mpg difference from average commuter mpg (i\’m guesstimating doubles the mpg), motivating car communiters to use vehicles like the mini have a much more dramatic impact on a communities emissions than cycling, even with a doubling of cycling commuters

ie.

before changing drivers vehicle choice:

bikers 5% of traffic = 5% reduction
drivers 95% of traffic = status quo

after changing drivers vehicle choice:
bikers 10% = 10% reduction
drivers 90% = 45% reduction

no one in particular
Guest
no one in particular

Bike Snob NYC had a pretty hilarious take on these ads:

The people \”going green\” these days are the same people who did graffiti or experimented with homosexuality at their liberal arts college–they enjoy flirting with a lifestyle they don\’t understand in an environment where it\’s looked upon favorably, but as soon as it becomes difficult, unsafe or embarrassing they conveniently abandon it. Fortunately for them, you don\’t have to give up your car to \”go green.\” Instead, you just need to buy a new one with marginally better gas mileage.

Metal Cowboy
Guest

Greenwashing is the modern equivalent of rearranging chairs on the Titanic or telling the emperor how nice he looks in his new clothes. It\’s rationalizing while we continue to over consume. How\’s this, we stop drinking flavered water out of a plastic bottle instead of feeling great that they\’ve made the plastic container with 3 percent less plastic but spent more resources than that on marketing their accomplishments. I could list literally 100 examples of these marketing ploys to the carnival of idiots on show still seeking last century\’s American Dream.

Bike fun trumps car fun and reduces carbon footprints in a meaningful way. Have a bike fun-filled weekend.

brodie
Guest
brodie

for a hilalarious look at how seriopus mini owners take their cars, check out bikesnob\’s recent post where he references making fun of mini owners for that add, and then starts a redhot discussion on a mini forum. funny stuff.
http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/2008/08/worst-of-craigslist-delicious-savory.html

SkidMark
Guest
SkidMark

I think the Mini has always had \”fun\” as part of their marketing campaign, going back the the original Minis in the Sixties. I have driven and ridden in the original Mini, and it is indeed \”fun\”. I\’ve own several vintage VWs, they were all fun. When I was growing up we had a restored 31 Ford Model A and riding in the rumble seat was loads of fun. I don\’t like much in the way of new cars, but a new Mini sounds like fun: powerful engine and good handling in a small car.

I think a new Mini is more green than the giant SUVs and diesel 4-door pickup trucks driving around, I would much prefer that many Mini\’s on the road.

Arem
Guest
Arem

Another thing to mention is that the two-wheeled cousin of bicycles – the motorcycle pretty much outstrips any car in the efficiency category as far as being \”green\” is concerned in relation to internal combustion *coughobsoletetechnologycough*

Of course, an efficient electric version would outstrip either.

SkidMark
Guest
SkidMark

I don\’t know how true that is Arem. Motorcycles still are not required to have catalytic convertors.

Jeff Ong
Guest
Jeff Ong

A couple of years ago there was an awful commercial for some car that showed a giant game of musical chairs in a parking lot, where all the drivers scrambled for spots. Despite the daffy fun-filled musical score, I suspect this commercial bombed because it was altogether too close to the actual experience of endlessly circling a parking lot looking for a spot. Yay! Fun!

There\’s a reason every other car ad shows a car alone on an empty, winding road, even though that describes about half a percent of most people\’s driving experience.

Jen
Guest
Jen

Oh, you\’re going to hear from a lot of Mini Owners. I am one; I also bike. I have a standard transmission on the Mini, and routinely get 40 mpg. Skidmark is right: \”fun\” has always been part of Mini\’s advertising, so \”carfun\” must have been irresistible. Sure, we should all be striving for better mileage, alternative fuels, better public transportation, and bike/pedestrian paths everywhere. But lighten up ! Mini drivers are pretty cool, happy folks. They\’ll share the road with us, no problem.

todd
Guest
todd

http://www.flickr.com/photos/cleverchimp/2634332007/

that is all.

[Editor\’s Note: I\’m posting todd\’s awesome photo below on his behalf:

Pete
Guest
Pete

Joe (#6): I saw a lady walk out of Safeway with at least four doubled-up plastic bags of groceries and get into a green Prius with a \”Share the Road\” plate the other day… 😉

Meep
Guest

BikePortland, say hi to marketing.

There are a lot of smart people in marketing.

(yick… marketing.)

Deborah
Guest
Deborah

Mini owner here. Love my mini, standard transmission, great mpg, super fun to drive. Long distant road trips, 2 bikes on top, 2 humans, 2 large dogs on the back seat, tent and gear in the boot. 42 mpg freeway. Highest resell value of any car on the market. It\’s red and makes people smile. You can\’t look at a mini and be negative.

Go to Youtube and search for all the fun Mini ads that were never shown in the PNW.

[shudders]
Guest
[shudders]

I think you meant \”shuttering\” factories, as in closing them down.

(@#3 started it.)

SkidMark
Guest
SkidMark

I think advertising hybrid SUVs as green is much more insidious.

a.O
Guest

\”BikePortland, say hi to marketing.\”

Ah yes, marketing. Here\’s what I have to say about advertising and marketing (warning, NSFW):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDW_Hj2K0wo

matt picio
Guest

I agree with Skid (#17) – \”green\” SUVs are much more insidious. There are worse things than current car drivers switching to the Mini en masse. While it would be preferable that they switch to bikes, (or at least to an electric scooter or something) it\’s better than many of the alternatives. I\’m going to continue to encourage people to trade their car for a good bike(s), but I\’m not going to condemn anyone who trades in a Navigator, Escalade or F250 to own a Mini – unless they plan on keeping the other car too!

Metal Cowboy
Guest

I\’ve got nothing against the mini especially in light of all the maxi\’s out there on the road, but the article was about the marketing of a car as green and cooping the foot print message and a calculator to make one feel good about driving a car. I have a poor man\’s mini – an echo – it gets better mileage, 45-48mpg\’s but when I drive it with five people aboard, I don\’t feel like an eco-warrior. I put less gas in but I\’m still adding to global warming etc. It\’s not abouyt lgihtening up, I\’m a rather positive spirit despite what I see around me, but if we want to tell ourselves fairytales through national media campaigns or at the very least, buy into them, all I can say is that we reap what we….

To Jack\’s arguement that a nation of minis would go a long way to solving our problems, we are much more likely to increase our mode share of bicycle use than we are to replace all those SUV drivers with mini\’s – no matter how fun they are, and the way you presented your arguement it seems to say that bike mode share will never grow beyond 5 percent. I would much rather focus on increasing that mode share for bikes than trumpeting a country conversion to mini\’s. But maybe that\’s just because, as an echo owner I have mini envy.

joeb
Guest
joeb

Maybe if I’m ever in the market for a car again, I’ll support my local economy and buy Deborah\’s Mini off Craigslist if she\’s done with it.

An interviewee in a recent local news story about drive through car washes being less harmful on the environment than hand washing said \”Wow, I drive through because it\’s easy. I didn\’t know I was helping the environment.\” Well dude… \”Your not.\” I think it is pretty easy to convince the general public that Arrowhead\’s curvaceous water bottle is environmentally friendly because it requires 30% less materials to make. Um, that’s still about 100% too much material. Ford\’s current ad campaign throws out 35, 29, 26 MPG as if those are huge numbers. I hope people aren’t that stupid. Toyota advertises a car apparently made of sticks and leaves that decomposes into a pristine meadow. I was encouraged until my research found no substance. I wish a company would really take it on and make a genuine effort for zero impact process and products. Advertising is sickening.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

I drive, and I don\’t bike (Don\’t ask why I\’m here, it\’s a long story!) And I walk alot. I drive a fairly fuel efficient car probably a below average amount a week. I also follow the rules – woo.

I also don\’t eat meat. The initial reason I gave up meat was because of the environmental impact livestock etc has.

When calculating my carbon footprint (as best as I can anyway) I\’ve tried it two ways.

The first way, I calculate it as my lifestyle is now.

The second way, I calculate it as if I were to drive 0 miles, but change my diet to be an average meat eater.

My carbon footprint is actually smaller the first way, and well below the \”Target Carbon Footprint\”.

Anyway – my point is that I read alot of comments on bikeportland that generalizes motorists as \”gasholes\” or other insinuations that motorists don\’t care about the environment.

While I think it\’s great that people are biking and going car free, I just want to point out that while it\’s a great way, but not the only way to significantly reduce your carbon footprint.

Not all motorists are jerks, ya know? 🙂

Thanks.

jack
Guest
jack

hey metal,

thanks for the polite address to my comment, in response

\”it seems to say that bike mode share will never grow beyond 5 percent\”

my attempt/example at putting numbers to this took into account a doubling of the mode share to 10%, in no way shape or form a hit against a cyclists 100% reduction of daily contributions to pollution and air quality, or a discouragement of growing bikings mode share, its just a recognition of the realities of our commuting community and the validity of encouraging/supporting responsible vehicle choice, this has a real environmental impact and is not a foo foo marketing ploy

\”we are much more likely to increase our mode share of bicycle use than we are to replace all those SUV drivers with mini\’s\”

agreed with the increase versus all, however coming for a pro-environment perspective i see the move to high mpg vehicles \’low hanging fruit\’, meaning that with already developing consumer trends and the reaction among big car companies in production and marketing budgets that this would be an area that swift progress can be made in reducing pollutants

Does anyone know the mode share %\’s for amsterdam or other model biking communites?

KWW
Guest
KWW

This is the apologist generation, whether you drive a big fat stonkin\’ SUV, or ride a bicycle, people are guilt ridden for existing – phooey.

As for those mini drivers out there, I am not believing the 40mpg claims. The standard EPA mpg figures quoted on the mini site don\’t go over 40mpg. And if you are driving in the stop and go traffic of PDX, your mileage is more like 25 at best.

When you look at total lifecycle environmental cost (including manufacture), motorcycles are much cleaner than any car. This is including the fact that most bikes don\’t have catalytic converters.

For one, a great deal of new motorcycles run fuel injection these days and are only incrementally dirtier emissions wise.

But you have to be careful, as emissions tests in this country are based on parts per million (ppm), not total volume.

If emissions were evaluated on total volume/mile basis, then a sub 1000cc motorcycle would be at least 3-5x cleaner than an SUV, if not more. That\’s talking actual pollution.

If you are a 50cc moped riding hipster, then you have 100x less impact than a SUV, emissions wise.

As for myself, I ride a bicycle to work instead of driving or mass transit. Thats 10 miles round trip every work day, or a reduction of driving/mass transit of about 2500 miles per year.

On the weekend I primarily drive, and I am not apologizing for that.

Dr. Benjamin
Guest

What if Shift (and others) had million dollar ad campaigns? Would more people have more fun? I\’m not convinced. So instead, on behalf of Shift, I\’ll pay myself to drink and come up with pithy campaign tag lines:

\”See how you can drink and bomb hills at the same time. Having fun on the road isn\’t just borderline illegal, it\’s a weekly ritual.\”

\”See how you can hug women and get naked at the same time. Having fun on the road isn\’t just about bikes, it\’s about love.\”

\”How can you hug steel and leather at the same time? Having fun on the road isn\’t just possible, it\’s a lifestyle.\”

\”See how you can eat pavement and hop corners at the same time. Having fun on the road isn\’t just painful, it\’s hilarious.\”

\”See how you can drink and ride at the same time. Follow me for 10 minutes, it\’s bound to happen.\”

\”Trees in corners obstruct the view of oncoming traffic. Cork!\”

\”See how you can have more bike fun and meet your entertainment quota at the same time. Having fun on the road isn\’t just a hobby, it\’s a priority.\”

\”Having fun on the road isn\’t just about the size of your wheels, it\’s about the size of your gears. See how you can hug years and derailleur at the same time.\”

Now you try! More bike fun… related ad campaigns!

Shift – A proud sponsor of Team Zoobomb and More Bike Fun

Deborah
Guest
Deborah

KWW # 23
wanna go for a drive?

love my Mini, love my Trek 2.1 WSD, love my Kline, miss my Cannondale(theft) miss my Nishiki (age 40yrs)Yashiki(piece of crap) tolerate the BFs DeRossa (put a light on it honey)
We can bike and not hate 4 wheels
Mini has great ads — go view them on YouTube, none have ever been viewed on MSM here in the PNW because there was a 6 to 12 month waiting period without ads. Just proves people in the PNW are pretty dang smart to latch a good thing early- bikes or neat cars.

Graham
Guest
Graham

a.O. #19

\”Oooo, the anger dollar, huge!\”

Funny (angry) stuff, thanks for sharing.

Deborah
Guest
Deborah

Hey A.o
another NSFW:
my grandsons opinon of large trucks, or maybe something else……..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhPgGh4tPzw

…maybe just early challanges with T & F?

he does ride a bike, with a helmet, in Alaska which is HUGE!

Graham
Guest
Graham

Deborah, that little boy had me laughing harder than the professional comedian 🙂

a.O
Guest

HFS, Deborah, that had me rolling on the floor!!

Here\’s a much more erudite discourse on the joys of owning a Mini (seriously NSFW):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aS6AOkOTaFM

Paul Tay
Guest

My idea of carfun is falling asleep at the wheel.

eddie
Guest

I guess I\’m just not feeling the hate. I\’m lucky enough to live somewhere where I can live without a car. And I love it. but I\’m sure I will drive a car from time to time in my life. bikes are fun, and I\’ll bet they are more fun than a mini, but as cars go, it\’s probably better than a hummer.

and even if greenwashing is making small positive changes to large systems for selfserving reasons, the impact can be very large.
if it is continually met with cyansism(sp)then maybe the selfserving response would be something like cyansist washing like \”they\’ll hate you anyhow, drive a hummer\”
have fun, portland.
smile,breath and go slowly

m
Guest
m

I\’ve always felt a bit conflicted about driving since I do try to lighten my footprint as much as possible. I ride a bike most of the time, but I do own a car and LOVE to drive almost as much as I LOVE riding my bikes. I grew up in a car culture environment and family. Dad restored cars, step-dad restored cars. I\’ve owned 25+ cars and I\’m only 35. I learned to drive when I was 8. I went car free for eight years (expect for flex/zipcar when they came around) and it wasn\’t bad. But I just couldn\’t help it when I got a sweet deal on a 21 year old GTI. the point? oh yeah, not all drivers are bad. I have no problem with cars as long as they\’re used responsibly. If everyone only drove when they really needed to or just for the occasional road trip, we wouldn\’t have to worry about oil or greenhouse gases.

and you can\’t go 120 mph on a bike.

Deborah
Guest
Deborah

Here\’s an article about a car dealer giving away bikes to children for reading. Should meet with your approval.

Nearly 900 bicycles offered to students who improve reading
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 08/16/2008 01:53:28 AM MDT

Nearly 900 students will win bicycles for reading this school year as part of the Ken Garff Automotive Group\’s \”Road to Success\” program, which kicked off Thursday in Orem.
This year, 220 Utah schools in 13 school districts will participate in the program, which challenges students in grades K-6 to read at least 20 minutes a day throughout the school year.
For each 100 minutes a student spends reading, the student can enter his or her name into a drawing to win a bicycle. Wal-Mart is donating 880 bikes to the schools.
Each school will get four bikes to give away. This is the program\’s second year. Last year, 50 Utah schools participated.
The initiative is led by Ken Garff, Zions Bank, American Family Insurance, KSL 5, KSL Radio, FM 100, Arrow 103.5, Utah Scholars, Utah Educational Savings Plan, and the Utah Blaze

SkidMark
Guest
SkidMark

KWW, I wouldn\’t be too sure about mopeds being less polluting either. No emission control devices, old, and 2-stroke pre-mix. Who\’s to say that every hipster understands how much oil a 50:1 ratio is? It may use less gas, but old carbureted 2-strokes put out high PPMs of unburnt fuel and oil vapor. It\’s one of the reasons I parked my Vespa P200e 5 years ago.

Mike
Guest
Mike

One again Portlanders demonstrate how self righteous some can be. It almost seems like a competition on who can be the hippest, wierdest, or greenest. Don\’t bash people for driving cars, using plastic bags, etc. Just worry about your own darn self and keep your ultra-coolness to yourselves

Landon
Guest

Bikes are fun. Word-up.

-L

Eileen
Guest
Eileen

I will give up my car when they have a commuter train between Portland and Salem that stops in Aurora/Hubbard. And when I can give up my car, I will be able to afford one of those fancy bikes to haul my kids around in. By the time that happens, I\’ll have a job in Portland and my kids will be old enough to ride alone.

I think it is a good goal for people to give up their cars and go by bike, but it is just not realistic to expect that of people when there aren\’t yet enough viable and safe options to replace cars.

SkidMark
Guest
SkidMark

hey Mike, maybe you shouldn\’t bash people for being hip, wierd, or green.

Worrying about just \”your own darn self\” is what got us into this mess in the first place. It\’s why the world is so polluted, and it is why there is such a mad scramble for oil.

Eileen
Guest
Eileen

Mike, do you really think that efforts at being green are a \”hipness\” contest? We can\’t worry about just our \”own darn selves\” because we have to share the planet. When you drive, you are polluting MY air, and so does the factory that makes your plastic bags. I drive too, mainly because I haven\’t figured out yet how not to and feeding my family are my first priority. But I certainly don\’t see driving as something to be proud of or as a god-given right. It\’s just how things have evolved (DE-volved really) and I would like to see things differently. You know what freedom means within the boundaries of a community? Freedom means you can do whatever you want so long as it doesn\’t hurt others. Well, polluting the environment hurts others. The \”every man for himself\” mentality never did much except make a few guys rich, at the expense of a lot of other guys.

glenzedrine
Guest
glenzedrine

Eileen, although I agree with what you are saying, that it is unreasonable for all people to stop driving, but that it\’s a good goal for some people, I feel the need to point out that the \”every man for himself\” mentality is the reason humans came to exist in the first place.

Eileen
Guest
Eileen

I disagree glenzedrine. Cavemen never could have survived alone. They depended on each other. Name me the time/place in history when communities were not the norm.

SkidMark
Guest
SkidMark

It is unrealistic to think that people are going to stop driving completely. It is not unrealistic to expect people not to drive less than a mile to pick up a quart of milk or a pack of cigarettes. It is not unreasonable to expect people to carpool or use public transit to enter a major metropolitan area to go to work, where their car will likely just take up space all day. It is not unrealistic to develop alternative fuels, or require new cars to be flex-fuel and get better gas mileage. In Japan motorscooters have \”idle stop\” where the engine stops running when the scooter is at a stoplight, and starts back up by simply twisting the throttle when the light turns green. Why can\’t this technology be adapted to cars, considering so much pollution come from cars idling in traffic? There are many ways to ease our dependence on the oil nipple.

Eileen
Guest
Eileen

I agree skidmark. Point well-taken. My problem is getting in the habit of planning ahead. The society of cars and cell-phones has made us a very by-the-seat-of-our-pants culture. Sometimes I feel like everything is last minute and I just can\’t afford the extra minutes to walk or bike to the store, even though it\’s only a few blocks away. Of course, had you been in Trader Joe\’s last week when my 4-year-old was having a meltdown after I made him walk 8 blocks in 90 degree heat, you might be more willing to give me a pass. But I think part of the whole \”bikefun\” idea is slowing down and enjoying life. Maybe letting go of the overscheduled life. I\’m sure we\’d all be happier.

I am reverse commuting right now and I actually carpool 2 days a week, but when we have kids who need to be dropped off at daycare and have to be at work at 7 am, it\’s tough to do more than that. But it\’s somethign I think about which I guess is a first step.

SkidMark
Guest
SkidMark

You\’re doing what you can, that\’s all the \”pass\” you need. I am well aware of the \”not enough hours in a day\” that comes with moving kids around and making time for them.

SkidMark
Guest
SkidMark

You are also doing a lot more than Joe Blow from Washington commuting into portland in his Ford Explorer all by himself. I don\’t think you should be able to cross that bridge into Portland at rush hour with at least 2 people in your 5 to 7 passenger SUV.

Maybe Joe Blow should get a Mini.

Someone mentioned a Toyota Echo. You can fit a BMX bike in the trunk (closed) without taking off the front wheel.

Eileen
Guest
Eileen

Well, I appreciate that skidmark. I am not doing nearly enough, but I can\’t change my entire life overnight. We shouldn\’t ever be satisfied, but at the same time, we have to be patient with ourselves and each other.

Those of you who are modelling the \”life\”, huge kudos. You are my inspiration.=)

peejay
Guest
peejay

Eileen:

What you\’re going through – we all have done. I took about six months to realize that I could use the TriMet pass my company gave me, together with my bike, could actually get me to work, and then another year to figure out that the fun doesn\’t have to stop in the winter. My girlfriend is still working out how she can bike to her retail job and be presentable enough to deal with customers. She\’s up to 50% bike, 50% bus, which is awesome! Everything you do is better than nothing, and it usually makes the next step easier. Good for you, and know that you have supporters in your journey.

steve
Guest
steve

The greenest car is keeping the one you already have.

The greenest parenting choice is to adopt.