The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

Editorial: Audi ad pokes fun at bikes, bus

Posted by on September 29th, 2009 at 10:30 am

“Truth in Engineering” is the Audi motto. But their new ad stretches that slogan to the limit, promoting its new, supposedly fuel efficient vehicle, the A3 (it’s supposed to get 24mpg 34mpg).

Alongside images of standing commuters jostling on an overcrowded bus, a man on a bicycle dodging cars in the rain on a major road, and a guy trying to navigate heavy pedestrian traffic on a segue, a voiceover intones: “Many people are trying to do their part.”

Cut to the staple of car commercials everywhere, the empty country road — or wait, empty except for a Volvo with a biodiesel sticker, which the shiny new luxury car easily passes on a windy mountain road. Voiceover: “Some just have more fun doing it.”

We have to say, this ad has raised our hackles — and plenty of questions. Such as: Did you ever notice that bus and bike commutes suddenly get to be a lot of fun when there is adequate planning and infrastructure to support the demand for them? To what lengths will car companies go to try to sell their product?

And some more questions in light of Oregon’s (and Portland’s) recent all-out embrace of the electric car: Is it really that fun to drive? How is 34 mpg fuel efficient? How long will the myth of the “green” car persist? Is it really worth throwing your personal money and public funds into a dying industry when other solutions actually work?

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Shawn Small September 29, 2009 at 10:37 am

    ha, that commercial is just plain silly.

    anyone with a video camera up for a remake, PORTLAND STYLE?

    we can show someone biking through traffic jams, or biking by a gas station with a zoom-in on the price per gallon all the while wearing the smuggest (word?) of smiles

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  • cyclist September 29, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Shame on you Elly for disparaging folks who use their Segway to get to and from work! Cycling is not for everyone, some folks may want to do their part to get off the road but for whatever reason don’t feel like cycling is for them. There are several people near where I work that commute via Segway and they seem happy to do so.

    Think about it this way: 15 years ago I’m sure there were plenty of folks who said, “Does anybody seriously consider bicycles as a mode of transportation?” Yes, some people do, to dismiss them so casually is to make enemies out of people who could be our allies. People who take any alternate mode of transportation, be it public transit, Segways, walking, they’re all in it with us. I hope you consider taking that snide comment out of your story.

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  • Oh Word? September 29, 2009 at 10:41 am

    I’m in Shawn. bpeebs at!

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  • Scott E September 29, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Not that I’m agreeing in the least with this commercial, but this is an Audi 3 TDI (diesel powered) and gets a highway 42 mpg and city 30 mpg (34 combined).

    The 24 mpg car you’re refering to is the regular gasoline version of the A3.

    You can search for it on that website you listed above. (I can’t get it to give me URL to link though)

    But anyway, I prefer to use human-power!

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  • Hillson September 29, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Unfortunately, my parents taught me to believe anything Audi says. : )

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  • Elly Blue September 29, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Cyclist (#2) — Wow, sorry about that. It truly has never occurred to me that a segue would be a workable transportation mode. Go figure. Snide comment deleted.

    Scott E (#3) thanks for correcting me — I’m looking for a new link now…

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  • Scott E September 29, 2009 at 10:48 am

    There we go. I got the site to behave:

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  • Nick V September 29, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Just an assumption here, but I would guess that at least 95% of Americans still consider the car to be their only logical mode of transportation. They are the target audience for ads like this. I went back to my hometown of Baltimore and the only cyclists I saw were doing a weekend fitness ride. When I told people that I drove to work, they figured my commute was only 9 or 10 blocks…….

    @#2 cyclist,
    How fast do Segways go? I don’t know a whole lot about them but from seeing pics of them, it looks easier to just walk to one’s destination.

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  • Amos September 29, 2009 at 10:53 am

    I think it’s great! A sign of changing times when gigantic auto manufacturers feel the need to compete with the ever-increasing threat of human powered (mostly) transport!

    It’s working!!!

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  • fredlf September 29, 2009 at 10:53 am

    Maybe this vile and obnoxious ad is good news: alternate commute modes are becoming popular enough for the car companies to perceive them as a threat.

    Looking forward to the day when an ad like this is considered as socially inappropriate as wearing blackface…

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  • Hart September 29, 2009 at 10:57 am

    It’s an embarrassment to the auto industry that they have to spend billions on advertising to make their cheap/sustainable competition look bad.

    Cars are over.

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  • MJ September 29, 2009 at 11:01 am

    @shawn – I like that idea! Sort of a video response to the Audi ad.

    We need to find someone with an A3.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) September 29, 2009 at 11:02 am

    To me, this ad is just the latest example of how driving is the new smoking and cars are the new tobacco industry.

    Seriously folks. The auto industry is spending millions to try and sell a lie… that using their product is fun and that it has no harmful effects… when EVERYONE knows that our country’s over-dependence on cars has a massive negative impact on many parts of our lives.

    Cars are great… when they’re used responsibly… but don’t try and sell me on the fun, don’t try and hide the True Cost they have on our society, and don’t make fun of more sensible transportation choices that we all agree we need much more of.

    Just like the tobacco industry, the car industry will do whatever it takes to sell more of their product. they have no interest other than their bottom line. be wary.

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  • Hart September 29, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Also, that 34 mpg is laughable. Not to mention that’s based on sunny, warm, dry track conditions at speeds below 55 mph, with perfectly inflated tires and a new oil change.

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  • Nick V September 29, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Correction from my comment #8, “BIKED” to work, NOT “drove” to work!!!! I should learn to proofread.

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  • Hart September 29, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Why doesn’t this ad run in prime time:

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  • q`Tzal September 29, 2009 at 11:11 am

    One of the major bike brands, not a toy bike, needs to put up a national commerical touting their Green(tm) Transport line of bikes.
    Pretty pictures of bikes of all shapes and sizes. Images of average sized americans biking down roads, some in bike lanes, some on the road, some still in european style bicycle facilites. Never less than 3 cyclists in frame at a time; subliminal message here is that numbers are growing and you won’t be alone.
    End the commercial with the brand name and the new bike commuting slogan “Remember, cycling is nowhere as dangerous as the car companies have lead you to beleive.”

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  • felix September 29, 2009 at 11:24 am

    this is the only real sustainable vehicle.

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  • Quentin September 29, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Have fun paying off the $30,000 loan you got in order to participate in the delusion that the astronomical amount of finite resources consumed by producing tens of millions of new automobiles every year, and the mind-boggling oil-dependent infrastructure they require, is going to lead the human race toward anything other than environmental and economic catastrophe. Have fun with that.

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  • Brian Johnson September 29, 2009 at 11:39 am

    A marketing honch somewhere has a beef with transport modes that don’t include single-passenger vehicles.

    (Have any of you taken notice of the number of single-passenger autos out there? There’s a gigantic inefficiency, right there.)

    Anyway– for this ad to compare a car to cycling, walking, and public transit is a bit absurd. It’s missing the point. They should have been targeting potential consumers of mid-sized gasoline-burning autos or even small SUV’s.

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  • patrickz September 29, 2009 at 11:40 am

    I could go on and on about this ad and car commercials in general. We need more ads like the Trek one from Hart, #16. It makes me want to get on the road and try (and/or enjoy) MY efficiency. Also, the people in the Audi ad are mostly going to their jobs, except for the lucky driver who is out for a spin in the sunshine. How many of us commute like that?

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  • cyclist September 29, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Nick V #8: The top speed on them is 12.5 miles an hour, definitely faster than walking, and not that much slower than cycling (especially for the people that are using them).

    I know there aren’t many people on them, but I don’t see any reason to act dismissively towards people that do. They’re a much better option than a gas combustion engine for people who commute by themselves, and are a workable option for folks who don’t have to commute more than 5 or 6 miles.

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  • Brian Johnson September 29, 2009 at 11:47 am

    The Trek ad is pretty nice. That certainly should see more air time on television to counter car ads.

    This one has been my favorite:

    With a little editing this could be a great TV spot, I think. It certainly makes me want to go by bike for my next in-town errand.

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  • Brad September 29, 2009 at 11:52 am

    This editorial is laughable!

    The auto industry is trying to sell cars – shocking! The images they are using are pretty effective on their TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC and, sadly, quite truthful. Been on a MAX train at rush hour lately? Ever not had proper weather gear on a rainy commute? Ever been afraid to ride in traffic? (Especially you Elly – weren’t you frightened enough to more-or-less forget there was actually a tradeshow in Las Vegas that you were supposed to cover?)

    I think you are ticked off that someone had the audacity to poke fun at us alternative transportation users and, from a creative standpoint, it actually works. My we are a thin skinned bunch!

    Will I give up riding? No. Will I buy an overrated German car? Again, no. Will this ad cause bike commute share to plummet to less than 1%? No! It’s a freakin’ car ad and most bike users are not mindless consumer sheep!

    The most amusing part of your tome is the question, “Did you ever notice that bus and bike commutes suddenly get to be a lot of fun when there is adequate planning and infrastructure to support the demand for them?”.

    I must have forgotten what I learned in college marketing classes. A CARMAKER and their ADVERTISING AGENCY are supposed to stroke our egos, validate our choices, or advocate for local transport planning in lieu of selling their product? Perhaps I was hungover that morning and took really poor notes.

    Fess up – you and BikePortland hate cars and you don’t really want to share the road either. It’s OK to admit that and it is a perfectly legitimate point of view. You are preaching to a choir of sorts here and your wishy-washy psuedo-philisophical ramblings are just embarrassing and make you look like a humorless wonk that can’t take a joke. Or do you need the validation of like minded people parroting back your POV?

    Jonathan, please think about returning to what this site does best: covering Portland’s thriving bike scene. This site is best when it informs us about local matters of policy, local activism, and about how people in our town are creating a better environment for bikes. It inspires us with tales of bike fun and how to make bikes an integral part of our lives. Complaining about car ads and labeling auto use as a “vice” neither informs nor inspires very much at all. In fact, it just inflames people in the same way as “bikes vs. cars” nonsense and you have been clear about your position on that subject.

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  • wsbob September 29, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    The auto industry is withering or ailing, but it’s not dying. Short of a nuclear apocalypse, it may never die unless humanity does.

    Cars are can be fun to drive…this is a well engineered vehicle that’s fits, handles well, is fast, and does decently well in today’s mileage wars, so it probably is a car that’s fun to drive…maybe not quite as fun…like sex and drugs…? as this ad would like everyone one to think. I’m trying to think when I ever had fun riding a bus…. .

    Nick V, Segways are built to have a top speed of 12.5 mph/20kph. I’ve only seen one out in the Beaverton area…quite a few downtown Portland. Guy rolled right into the Fred Meyer on it. I’m not sure I think much of that idea, but being able to do so says convenience and practicality. People whose joints and what not are starting to fail may be thinking these type machines are the best thing since the invention of the car.

    Segways cost a lot of money. There’s lots of less expensive electric vehicles that will get you there. The bike though, for those that can still ride them, can still give you the most bang for the buck.

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  • Grimm September 29, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Somebody should edit in a final scene of that fancy audi sitting in gridlock traffic and circling the blocks finding a parking space… As a cyclist rolls up locks his bike w/ a 0.00/mpg patch on his backpack.

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  • Rich Wilson September 29, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    My problem with the Audi is the pass on the twisting road. My problem with the Hutchison ad is that the Masi guy has a death wish. Just because you have a hot car or some fixed skilz doesn’t mean you should be an asshole out there.

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  • Brian Johnson September 29, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    Brad #24: That’s what an “editorial” is for. It’s a segment for expressing opinion. Just about every news outlet features them.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) September 29, 2009 at 12:05 pm


    Thanks for your input about our editorial and the choices we make about what to publish. We’ll take that into consideration.

    Your assumptions that we hate cars and “don’t really want to share the road either” are incorrect.

    I’ve said many times that I’ve got nothing against responsible car use… but it’s about using the right tool for the job.

    And I have never called driving a car a “vice” as you attest above. I love my mini-van. It allows us to take road trips, pick up family from the airport, haul huge loads of cargo, etc…

    I think it’s an important trend to cover when car makers go beyond just trying to make their cars look good and they start disparaging other modes (like bus and bike) that they know are gaining momentum in the eyes of public opinion.

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  • Bahueh September 29, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Is this what Bikeportland has turned into? dissecting car advertisements that don’t align with a particular viewpoint?

    slow day at the office?

    and Hart..the car is not going anywhere, not in your life time…and if it goes anywhere in the near future, it will only be to the electric conversion shop…

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  • Grimm September 29, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Bahueh, I think the point that traffic is diversifying and the auto industry is scrambling to make itself still seem like the golden child. Sure it will probably be the largest mode of transit in our lifetimes, thats fine. But ridership on bikes and buses is up. I was slightly floored last time I went to Best Buy, they have electric bikes, scooters and segway knock offs on their sales floor. It makes sense that audi is trying to down play any other options, they are scrambling and using scare tactics to make them seems like that only legit option that is luxurious and “green”.

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  • El Biciclero September 29, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    This ad is not much different from others in that the over-arching message is that our car makes you superior to other people. Appeal to pride is a pretty good tactic to use in advertising. Walking is for suckers. Riding a bike is for poor losers. Living within your means is for suckers who don’t understand “leverage”. Driving around in our car allows you to scoff at, smirk at, pity, pass, feel superior to all those poor suckers who are either too poor or too stupid to buy it. Classic. I used to know a guy who played a game with his kids called “spot the lie” every time a TV ad came on.

    To be offended by this ad is a little bit of a stretch, but understandable in that cyclists are lumped into the “poor sucker” group. It would be one thing if this car was being compared to other cars, but it is interesting that Outie thinks they need to compete with the bus, bikes, and Segways.

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  • Diego September 29, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    What’s really interesting is that the 1983-85 Volvo 240 they show there probably ISN’T a diesel-powered car. While Volvo did make a diesel 240 in 1983 and 1984, you can see from the front end pictures that the exhaust downpipe is that of a regular 4-cylinder gasoline model, and not a diesel.

    Another big tipoff is that the Volvo appears to be going uphill under load. If it was really a diesel Volvo – no matter HOW clean the biodiesel is or what shape the engine is in – it would be blowing a large amount of black smoke out the tail pipe. Even brand new, the 1980s Volvo diesels were smokey, especially when going uphill.

    While I am shocked and outraged at this inaccurate portrayal of the terrible (Volkswagen-manufactured!) D24 engine, I have to say the Audi A3 is a pretty neat car. While it’s been available in Europe since 1996, it’s only recently (2006) been imported to the USA, as the demand for smaller cars has picked up.

    Also, Audi is no longer shipping the A3 with the optional gas-guzzling V6, and has instead offered it with the usual turbo gasoline engine or (new for 2010) the turbo diesel engine.

    Volkswagen AG (owner of Audi AG) has continually improved their diesel technology over the years and is one of only a few companies to offer diesel vehicles in the USA. All you have to do is compare the sooty-spewing Volkswagen/Audi/Volvo diesels of the early ’80s with one of their 2010 TDI engines (which can run on biodiesel from the factory). I applaud them for it.

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  • felix September 29, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    #24 BRAD

    Well said!

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  • wsbob September 29, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    “I was slightly floored last time I went to Best Buy, they have electric bikes, scooters and segway knock offs on their sales floor.” Grimm #31

    The BestBuy out in Beaverton doesn’t display segway knockoffs…it has the authentic Segway, but equipped with off-road tires…’off-road tires’…think about that. The Segway website is worth a look.

    “…but it is interesting that Audi…or ‘Outie’…I thought that was at least a little funny too!… thinks they need to compete with the bus, bikes, and Segways.” El Biciclero #32

    Is that what Audi is thinking? I the appeal is there despite various benefits of mass transit and muscle powered personal transportation. If people like cars and they have the money, at least some of them will buy an exciting, well designed, sexy motor vehicle for those times they want to drive.

    I was reading somewhere yesterday that in Europe where percentage of people riding bikes is greater than it is here in the U.S., sales of cars are still high. The possible suggestion being, that people drive their cars but they don’t put as many miles on them in daily use as Americans do.

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  • Steven J September 29, 2009 at 1:09 pm


    Tell me the bike industry doesn’t use the same kind of hype to sell their products.

    I’d respond with a video of taking a vacation each year to Spain, with the money I save from cycling.

    Or the 8 weeks I’ve taken to ride Trans-America and spent less than a grand to do so.

    30,000 could also go a long way towards buying property.
    Property that’s value wouldn’t drop 5k just driving it off the lot.

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  • Jebus September 29, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    I’ll continue to drive my WRX for fun, as it is the only time I ever get to drive it! My bike takes me everywhere within +/- 10 miles, and that is just about everywhere I want to go.

    The car takes me the hour long trip into the country to my parents house with the dog and with food and beverages and most importantly the wife.

    Cars can be fun. Sometimes bikes aren’t.

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  • Virginia Bicycling Federation September 29, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Well, they got ya to put it on your blog, didn’t they?

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  • N.I.K. September 29, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    A car manufacturer attempts to sell the public on a product by insinuating that they’re doing less of the “right thing” than Freakshow Loser Exhibits A, B, and C, and that the solution is to do more by buying a pricey item during a recession.

    What’s that? No, there isn’t a punchline. **giggles**

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  • Mark September 29, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    There are so many comments that I’m not sure anyone else noticed. The ad uses racial stereotypes for their transit riders. Frankly, that’s the only shame I can see here. Audi wants to sell cars. They will not be rolling back progress in alternative transportation, at least not here, as a result. Time to pull on the rain pants and do my part to keep the mode split going up and to the right for bicycling.

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  • kitty September 29, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    show it stuck in traffic @ 13mph. how much fun is that?

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  • kit September 29, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    This ad is like a country club making fun of minorities. Classless, disgusting and laughably out of touch if it wasn’t so exploitative. The hapless klutz stereotype of cyclist is a shameful image to draw upon to sell cars. From a marketing perspective, it is NEVER a good idea to take a shot at the little guys. It makes you look like a grade-a dick. Is that the market Audi is trying to reach?

    Thanks for showing us side you’re on, Audi. I won’t forget it.

    @grimm: thanks for the zero per gallon love. 😉

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  • Kt September 29, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Audi is trying to show that a turbo diesel car is as good if not better than a regular gasoline-engined car, in a market that has traditionally viewed diesel-powered vehicles as dirty, slow, ugly outdated trucks/tractors/station wagons.

    That’s why the alternate modes of transportation in their commercial are shown thru a gray-blue filter (blah), and the car driving up the twisty hill is shown in a brighter yellow-white filter (yippee!).

    34mpg (combined city/highway) is pretty good.

    Point taken that all the great MPG in the world means exactly nada when you’re stuck idling in traffic.

    Just providing an alternate viewpoint, so don’t shoot me.

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  • cyclist September 29, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Kit #42: Comparing what cyclists experience to the racism minorities have had to tolerate in this country is much more offensive than the advertisement itself. The lack of perspective is truly appalling.

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  • Richard September 29, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Will these cars even be available? Last year, my wife and I were looking for a new car, and contacted VW dealers locally about the new VW wagon, “clean diesel” TDI. We were told that only a handful were being delivered to Oregon, they were already sold, and there was a long (years) waiting list.

    Anyway, that’s advertising for you. They have to convince people that commuting in a car is fun. Been there, done that, won’t go back. I’d rather commute by bike, even on the coldest and rainiest day Portland has to offer.

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  • wsbob September 29, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    “show it stuck in traffic @ 13mph. how much fun is that?” kitty #41

    13mph is fast for being stuck in traffic. Try 2mph, or being stuck dead/stop and go with stinky-hot exhaust whirling around everywhere. It really sucks for drivers when people walking on the side of the road are making time on the cars!

    Cars, even fancy ones like this Audi then become little prisons, but there’s the comfy seats, air conditioning, stereo, and snacks in the car offering quite a bit of consolation.

    I think that advances in recumbent bikes equipped with electric assist and cockpit enclosures that allow better personal environment control… ventilation/heat/cold, stereo, will increasingly have more to attract commuters that enjoy the comforts and appeal of an exciting car.

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  • kit September 29, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Cyclist #44:
    I am not saying that the comparison is of two equivalents. I was making an exaggerated comparison of an established, lazy, and privileged group taking a shot at one less established and more underprivileged.

    Every time a conversation around cyclists goes into the realm of cyclist as minority people get up in arms about how a minority of choice shouldn’t be put in the same category as one not of choice. But this is really missing the point. The dynamic between underprivileged minority and privileged majority exists, whether by choice or not, and I assure you, ON THE ROAD, cyclists are an underprivileged minority. Seen in this light, there are plenty of valid comparisons if one isn’t so caught up in the difference in scale of injustice.

    Again, I intend no offense and I CERTAINLY do not intend to belittle the massive history of injustice against ethnic minorities the world over.

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  • Rich Wilson September 29, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Personally, I’d like to commute in once they work out a few turning and acceleration kinks.

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  • cyclist September 29, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Kit #47:

    “I am not saying that the comparison is of two equivalents…”

    “This ad is like a country club making fun of minorities.”

    The comparison above was the first sentence of your comment. Who on Earth is going to take that statement seriously? There’s a WORLD of difference between how cyclists get treated and how minorities get treated. If people keep getting upset with you comparing cyclists to minorities, perhaps you should abandon it and come up with a better way of arguing your point.

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  • Mike September 29, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    So many people mention showing the car stuck in traffic… why not show the bus stuck in traffic? Or the drunk guy sitting next to you that hasn’t showered in a month? How about showing all the cyclists trying to ride their bikes in the snow? I realize there are some die hard commuters out there, but that is certainly not the majority.

    Not everyone in the US lives in Portland (sounds stupid to say, but follow me a sec.) Therefore not everyone has the amenities and infrastructure that PDX provides, the weather of the NW, nor the tolerance of cyclists by non-cyclists.

    People need to chill out and gain a little perspective. Is a car commercial (a very effective on at that) really worth getting “our hackles” raised over? Really?

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  • Rich Wilson September 29, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Maybe a better example would be how everyone is young happy and beautiful in beer ads.

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  • Elly Blue September 29, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    Mike — and others who question our decision to editorialize about this ad — it’s actually a very relevant point to make in critiquing this ad that people often don’t have many transportation options beyond driving (and as I learned in Vegas, sometimes driving is a dreadful option as well, if the lesser of all evils). One reason this ad is fascinating is that it takes for granted the myth that the only factor in what mode you use is your personal choice — what you think is “fun” or “green.” Never mind the extra lane added to the highway, or the complete lack of bike-friendly route, or inadequate bus service.

    A lot of our daily transportation choices aren’t really all that free, and the context is full of subsidy, lobbying, policy, and money that tilts the scales heavily towards cars and infrastructure that limits all other kinds of mobility. For some reason our instinct here in the US is often to see this as the natural order of things, written directly by the invisible hand of the market. It isn’t.

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  • kit September 29, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    Cyclist #49:
    It was an exaggeration. I’m sorry if it offended.

    As for the rest of this chain, this ad is disgusting and exploitative. It mocks people who are genuinely, earnestly trying to do something better, and that makes me pissed off, because I know and love these people, and I won’t apologize or concede that I shouldn’t *really* be pissed off because “oh, it’s just an advertisement.”

    If you guys are happy sitting down and letting a pretentious, unapologetic behemoth car company make fun of you and those you love, that’s your business. As far as I’m concerned Audi can f$!# right off.

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  • kit September 29, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    @Elly: Preach it! Take out the glamorous car shots and this might as well be a PSA about how crappy our infrastructure is for all but the automobile.

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  • Tom September 29, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    I have a turbo-diesel VW pickup and it gets 50mpg, how could a brand new car with an updated version of the same engine get less mpg? I only rarely use my truck, but when I do it sure is nice to know that Im able to get 50mpg and use bio-diesel.

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  • KimJSCP September 29, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    I am offended by this ad, but understand that its choice makes sense from an advertising standpoint. I realize that the point of an ad is to make your product look like the best choice and competing products look like a worse choice and it is nice to know that Audi feels that Bikes, Segways (yes – that is the correct spelling) and the like are competition.

    I ride a bike AND drive a car and believe there is a place for each – especially based on my current needs, location and family situation. As far as cars go, I love German cars and especially those made by VW and one of the primary reasons is their diesel technology.

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  • Jordan September 29, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Hey Shawn #1,
    I think you mean smugliest.

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  • Opus the Poet September 29, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    Tom #55

    The 2009 version is carrying around about 1500 pounds of safety equipment and added structure required to allow it to work properly, that’s why the new car with the advanced technology gets 34 to your 50 MPG. The irony is that 1500 pounds would not be necessary if people would wear 3 pound helmets when they drive. Chew on that for a minute. Almost all of that weight was to install various airbags that keep people from hitting their heads on things inside the passenger compartment that couldn’t be padded and still function (windshields windows etc.) with some going to create stronger foot boxes that won’t collapse around the driver’s or passenger’s feet trapping them in a wreck. But the vast majority of that weight could have been left out had a helmet law for cars been passed when they saw that head injury had become a major mode of injury and fatality in cars. MY last car weighed in at 1800 pounds, the model that replaced it is ~3000 now and doesn’t have any more passenger room or cargo space than my old car. It does make a dang good battering ram now though. I miss that car…

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  • Joe September 29, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    poop! #51 boo! sorry 2 word man tonight..

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  • John Reinhold September 29, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Also, that 34 mpg is laughable. Not to mention that’s based on sunny, warm, dry track conditions at speeds below 55 mph, with perfectly inflated tires and a new oil change.

    Have you ever actually driven an Audi/Volkswagen TDI?

    I have owned two Volkswagen TDIs, and their mileage far exceeded the “official rating”, and diesels also don’t get their best mileage until after 10 to 15 thousand miles.

    But check this out, for “sunny, warm, dry track conditions at speeds below 55 mph”

    Now I am not saying that they should poke fun at bicycles, but people who poo-poo the cars without ever having any actual experience with them just make themselves look silly.

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  • John Reinhold September 29, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    I have a turbo-diesel VW pickup and it gets 50mpg, how could a brand new car with an updated version of the same engine get less mpg?

    Your truck doesn’t have the same safety and emission standards the new ones have to meet. Emissions standards for new diesels are very high, and eat up a good bit of fuel economy in the name of clean air.

    In my Jeep CRD diesel, you could get an extra 3 or 4 mpg by disconnecting your EGR – of course that violated emissions laws.

    New cars have all sorts of (heavy) safety equipment too, like ABS and airbags and TPMS and whatnot. They all add up and take away fuel economy…

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  • John Reinhold September 29, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    Dang I missed a slash in my closing blockquote. Sorry about the formatting in post 61…

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  • Pete September 30, 2009 at 2:20 am

    Hart (#14): “that 34 mpg is laughable.”

    Not really. John Reinhold beat me to it, but many of the Audis are quite economical. I have an S4 wagon that’s way more fun to drive than the A3 in this ad, but I’ve averaged close to 30 MPG on past Gorge commutes. That is, until they started polluting our gas with ethanol. (For those of you without cars: 30 MPG from a 318 hp V6 doing ~75 MPH is pretty darned good, 42 highway will put this A3 pretty close to the top in modern fuel efficiency, nearly rivaling a Prius but not quite a VW Golf TDI).

    I wouldn’t let your hackles get raised too high… it’s just a car ad. 🙂

    Speaking of Segways (a “segue” is a topic or music transition, not the 2-wheeled invention of Dean Kamen), any of you Beaverton riders ever encounter that dude on Murray? That fat dude that always has a cigarette hanging out of his mouth? He has a horrible habit of riding the wrong way in the bike lane. Almost took me out twice!

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  • Michael September 30, 2009 at 8:49 am

    Agreed — stupid ad based on a flawed concept. The money it took to produce and broadcast the ad should have been spent on R&D for green cars.

    However, only something short of Armageddon would make bikes the predominant transportation mode. Look around: American cities spread out for miles and miles. Look at the aging population. Cars are here to stay. But they need a far more radical overhaul than modestly increasing the MPG.

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  • Dave September 30, 2009 at 8:57 am

    My 1974 VW Beetle gets about 35mpg, and it’s plenty fun to drive.

    For most of my trips through the city though, I prefer my bike 🙂

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  • Mike September 30, 2009 at 9:57 am


    I understand your need to critique car adds, it’s a slow time for news and you need filler.

    That was not my point, and my comment was directed just as much at at all who are posting about the PDX slanted commercial.

    I do still question why this particular add would affect you so greatly. How many American vehicles do not even come close to 34mpg? How many commercials do you see for these vehicles? Do you walk around with your hackles raised all the time?

    And to answer your question: “To what lengths will car companies go to try to sell their product?”
    They would stoop so low as to create an add the portrays their product as superior to mass transit and 20+ year old cars.

    Those bastards! How can they sleep at night…

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  • danceralamode September 30, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Elly, OF COURSE Audi is poking fun at us cyclists. They’re pissed off we’re not stimulating the economy by buying their cars and spending tons of money on gas. Slamming cyclists, Segue riders, and transit takers is the only way they can justify continuing to make over-priced vehicles. (If I ever buy a car again, watch me have to eat that comment cause it will be an Audi, hah!)

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  • […] PDRTJS_settings_517975_post_94 = { “id” : “517975”, “unique_id” : “wp-post-94”, “title” : “Audi+pokes+fun+at+cyclists+”, “item_id” : “_post_94”, “permalink” : “” } Thanks to and Elly Blue for this. […]

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  • Brad September 30, 2009 at 11:41 am

    It’s simple Mike. Some of us revel in the freedom and benefits that our bikes provide. In fact, no matter the conditions, we actually LOVE cycling and see it as a blessing. Can it be better? Sure. But our love for bikes is pure and transcends the petty squabbles and sleights of the less enlightened.

    But many in our ranks would rather be victims. They see themselves as oppressed, ridiculed, and mistreated. They fancy themselves as rebels or vanguards of a new age fighting a cruel and horrible tyranny. This is quite fashionable in some circles but ultimately hollow.

    You see, it is far easier to lash out at sleights real or imagined than to do the profoundly more difficult work of true change. That task requires patience, thoughtfulness, and compromise. It also requires understanding the needs and wants of your adversary to bring about solutions that create some measure of harmony for all. A lack of understanding only breeds perpetual conflict, disappointment, and anger.

    In any event, drivers and advertisers can laugh at me for riding on a cold, wet day or sandwiched on mass transit. That’s their perogative and no real threat to my ego or self worth. I’ll still ride because it brings me joy.

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  • dan wieden September 30, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    i don’t bike. all the ad said to me was that audi is for snobby suckers. doing your part means buying brand new shit rather than cutting back. is there any car company that is anti-consumption? doubt it. the tone of this ad is just lame. audi, congrats you’re now no better or worse than every other “luxury” car. i can now tune out your ads. this idea is about as creative as a gieco ad. way to raise the bar audi.

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  • John September 30, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    Folks, you’re missing the point…which is that a lot of people see the “green movement” as pretty laughable and just another fad…trendy=green. I thought this commercial was funny, but I wouldn’t buy this car, because it too perpetuates the whole marketing idea behind “green”…that is to say, “Hey, buy this product, because cool people are green, and you’ll be cool if you own this car”.

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  • wsbob September 30, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    “That fat dude that always has a cigarette hanging out of his mouth?” Pete #63

    Haven’t seen him, but people generally fitting that description are one example of a use I imagine many people dread the Segway and other e-vehicles will enable.

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  • n8m October 1, 2009 at 2:40 am

    im having so much more fun riding my bike …especially in the rain. you can keep your audi.

    thanks for the interesting post

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  • Andy October 1, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Here’s what I emailed AUDI:

    I can’t believe you’d make a commercial like this (…the difference between doing your part…). This is completely closed minded and archaic. How about a commercial showing a cyclist driving to an epic ride in your clean diesel with a bike on top of your car or part of a very long commute with the bike on your car? Be a part of and integral to the movement instead of this closed minded redneck approach. I’d expect such an for an F450 but Audi!? Americans are using mass transit and bicycles more and more because they’re tired of the high cost of petroleum. You think you can curb that trend with this add? I can’t put to words how badly this paints Audi. Fire your add agency and whatever CEO approved this. Your product is worthy of much more.

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  • es October 1, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    Re: Elly, “Did you ever notice that bus… commutes suddenly get to be a lot of fun…”

    FUN? What bus line do YOU ride? I ride #9 and I can tell you it ain’t no fun being jammed packed with smelly, dirty, weird passengers, no matter how accessible the bus. It sucks.

    Re: Maus. Do you drive a car, ever, for any reason? If so then your comments have no credibility. What, it’s okay for you to drive, as long as it’s convenient for you? But not okay to drive for reasons with which you don’t agree?

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  • rider October 1, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    How about an advertisement that illustrates something to this effect:

    Cost of ownership Bike vs Car over 5 years?

    Bar graph/Spread Sheet detailing all of the estimated annual costs of driving a vehicle –
    Down Payment vs Bike Purchase
    Car Payments + Financed Amount over sticker cost
    All DMV fees
    Vehicle Insurance
    Estimated Repair Costs
    Parts & Labor

    And then statistics showing your carbon footprint

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  • Pete October 1, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    Wow, pretty entertaining reading the comments on this. It’s just a car ad! Yeah, we get that bikes are better than cars for the environment, big oil sucks, we get healthy riding them, etc, but actually this is one of the least snobby Audi ads I’ve seen – it’s kinda cute, if you get (like a few commenters do) that it’s just a rebuttal to the green bandwagon.

    The reality is that all of the car companies are trying to please all market segments right now. Americans don’t want to drive economy cars because they’re small, perceived as less safe, and don’t carry status, pure and simple. Americans would rather drive to work than ride bikes, take a bus, etc – and while I don’t agree with validating the negativities associated with those forms (like this ad is doing), I don’t believe this ad is going to sway anyone who was on the fence about, say, biking to work this week. Car companies are gonna keep putting out pretentious fluff like this, whether we’re the butt of their stereotypes or not.

    It’s up to those of us who get it, to promote it, and the best way is to just keep being seen riding with a smile on our face.

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  • Compare and Contrast « Rode Rage October 2, 2009 at 6:23 am

    […] via BikePortland […]

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  • Adron October 2, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Hey “Shawn Small” – I’m totally up for it. In addition I’d be glad to blog it when it is done. Hit me up at adronhall [at] gmail [dot] com. 🙂

    A remake… will be awesome for this ad!

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