Zipcar ad jabs bicycling, spurs response – Updated

[Scroll down to see how readers have re-made the ad.]

Zipcar, the nation’s largest and most well-known car-sharing service (that just had an IPO), has long positioned themselves as a bike-friendly company; but a new advertisement has some people scratching their heads.

Check out the big banner graphic that’s running on Zipcar.com…

Come on Zipcar; why make bikes look bad just to make a buck? I thought we were friends. And why use a car when a simple set of panniers or a front rack would do the trick?

Bike touring expert, photographer, and former Portlander Russ Roca, who knows a thing or two about low-car living, instantly went to work on his own versions of the ad:

Want to create one too? Our friend Tomas Quinones made a version of the image with a blank background for your convenience

Feel free to Photoshop and caption to you heart’s content… And if any readers have friends at Zipcar, maybe drop them a line and point out how ridiculous that ad is.

UPDATES:

Reader Shane from Eugene sent in his mock-up:

And here’s one from Natalie:

And yet another:

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Chris
11 years ago

Send them an email at info@zipcar.com to express your disappointment. I just did. Or contact General Manager Jeremy Nelson locally at 503.328.3539.

Gregg Woodlawn
11 years ago
Reply to  Chris

I love the poster that Russ made- “Sometimes you just need a bicycle.” I’d like to see zipcar run that add.

dwainedibbly
dwainedibbly
11 years ago
Reply to  Gregg Woodlawn

That reminds me. I need to buy something from Russ or Laura.

Come on Zipcar! WTF?!?

Mike Fish
Mike Fish
11 years ago
Reply to  Chris

Me too – thanks for the link.

Scott Batson
Scott Batson
11 years ago

did anyone stop to think that inflamitory adds fuel discussion, increasing name recognition, i.e., free advertising for the initiator?
silence is better than golden.

Natalie
Natalie
11 years ago
Reply to  Scott Batson

yep, i think we did. no reason not to call them out for it anyways. maybe if no one had heard of them before then this would be free advertising, but i don’t think that applies here.

q`Tzal
q`Tzal
11 years ago
Reply to  Scott Batson

The only people that are going to be inflamed by this are cyclist who are most likely quite aware of the brand name.

The sad thing is that they are alienating the market segment they are most likely to expand in to: non-auto owning cyclists.

Non-cyclists won’t bat an eye at anti-bicycle propaganda. What’s worse for Zipcar is that it reinforces to the hard core auto owner that they HAVE TO have a car because nothing else will do.

So they have simultaneously given a subconscious negative purchase bias towards the larger auto-only market segment while consciously antagonizing the cyclist market.

Zipcar: fire your ad agency!

middle of the road guy
middle of the road guy
11 years ago
Reply to  q`Tzal

well, the reality is that sometimes you DO need a car.

the only people getting upset over this are the ones who already have persecution complexes.

xiousgeonz
xiousgeonz
11 years ago

I considered the fact that there are times when a car would better meet my needs — I’ve reserved a zipcar for tomorrow, for the second tiem since I signed up. When I have an all-day event 70 miles away, it makes sense to drive it.
So, the picture of a sign with a 70 mile distance and a dayplanner would have made me smile.
Picture of people trying to carry things and look nice reinforces the myth that this doesn’t work on a bike. It also implies I’m a fool for trying. WOnder how much utility cycling you do (actually, I am ;))

was carless
was carless
11 years ago
Reply to  Scott Batson

Its really tongue-in-cheek now, isn’t it?

But, sometimes you DO need a car. 😛

Mike Fish
Mike Fish
11 years ago
Reply to  Scott Batson

Then I’d be worried that someone would claim I’m part of a “silent majority.”

rwl1776
rwl1776
11 years ago

BUT, isn’t the ad true, sometimes you just DO need a car?

-J
-J
11 years ago
Reply to  rwl1776

Yes, sometimes a car is necessary, but not in the situation that they portrayed.

A more realistic situation would be a graphic that shows needing to be at a point 60 miles away in 1.5 hours. Then a car makes a lot of sense…cars are convenient for getting distant places, not for carrying a few pieces of paper and your lunch. Zipcar is clearly playing to a certain demographic of young professionals who are likely to use their services (I use Zipcar occasionally), but this is clearly a situation where a basket or panniers would meet their needs. Also, they are trying to imply that you can’t ride a bike in a suit or “office” clothes…which I do all the time.

Allan Folz
Allan Folz
11 years ago

Really? I’d be embarrassed by such a display of thin skin.

And last time I checked, photo context not withstanding, many cyclists sometimes do need a car. So where’s the line between admitting this simple fact, and becoming a bore that has to correct every ad graphic that isn’t 100% ideologically pure?

It reminds me of Soviet-era propaganda bureau. The North Koreans should be envious.

Natalie
Natalie
11 years ago
Reply to  Allan Folz

Haha yeah this is totally like North Korea. Such an appropriate comparison dude!

Allan Folz
Allan Folz
11 years ago
Reply to  Natalie

The vigor with which ideologues go into attack mode on those with unsanctioned thoughts, you bet. But hey, perhaps Orwellian is more PC.

Natalie
Natalie
11 years ago
Reply to  Allan Folz

Those darn ideologues and their attack of this advertisement’s unsanctioned thoughts! Feel free to cite the first Amendment and the “gotcha” media, too.

mabsf
mabsf
11 years ago
Reply to  Allan Folz

I like your take, Allen… perhaps we need to learn not to take everything so personal… and it is kind of hard to ride with an architecture model or a cake if you don’t have a trailer, xtracycle or big front rack…
Go cargo bikes…

BicycleDave
BicycleDave
11 years ago
Reply to  mabsf

ZipCargoBike anyone?

was carless
was carless
11 years ago
Reply to  Allan Folz

Haha, yeah, is that the Dear Leader in the background, looking on?

Mao would be so proud.

craig
craig
11 years ago
Reply to  Allan Folz

I don’t think anyone’s debating the text of the ad, only the context.

Mike Fish
Mike Fish
11 years ago
Reply to  Allan Folz

Really? Nine people think some bike portland readers’ reaction to this is like Soviet era censorship and current North Korean censorship? That’s just sad and shows what a bubble we live in.

JRB
JRB
11 years ago
Reply to  Allan Folz

Hyperbole much? Spend a couple of days living in a Soviety gulag or a North Korean prison and tell me how some folks who take offense at an ad is just like living under a totalitarian regime. Personally I don’t find the ad all that offensive, but people are just as free to express their opinion about the ad as Zipcar is to publish it.

SilkySlim
SilkySlim
11 years ago

Sometimes your business needs more than matching single-speeds.

Elliot
Elliot
11 years ago

I’m not nearly as offended by this as everyone else seems be. A Zipcar membership is complementary to bicycling and low/no car ownership. Knowing this, I don’t believe the intent of the ad was at all malicious. I just think they got the picture wrong. You don’t really need a car to go to a business meeting, but you might if you want to go furniture shopping.

Hugh Johnson
Hugh Johnson
11 years ago
Reply to  Elliot

well put. Some real over sensitive folks here.

Mike Fish
Mike Fish
11 years ago
Reply to  Elliot

The picture is a key aspect to the ad – ask any ad exec. Take away the picture and it’s simply a completely different ad which would probably spawn a different conversation.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)

For the record, I agree that sometimes you just need a car… But this ad is annoying because it portrays bikes as having no utility and it puts them in a bad light. Why would zipcar want to make bikes look bad? They could do the same ad and make the same point without taking the jab at biking. Zipcar should do everything they can to show biking in a good light – especially since many of their members are people whose primary vehicle is a bike.

Travis A. Wittwer
Travis A. Wittwer
11 years ago

The ad group probably considered this a visual and a situation that did, indeed, connect to its large bicycle using users. However, as pointed out, the ad was viewed by many in a light not intended. So…lesson learned, Zipcar.

I found it humorous. However, I think the intended message was lost as it did not connect to the humor, especially because the visual does not create a need for a car.

Allan Folz
Allan Folz
11 years ago

It’s just a picture. What’s your picture for conveying an instance where it would be nice (ops, impure thought) necessary to have a car?

matt picio
11 years ago
Reply to  Allan Folz

I agree Allan, but there is an issue that many companies are subtly reinforcing the common perception that bikes are toys, useless, or only for losers. Like this Microsoft Ad from 2007:
http://www.fearlessgearless.com/story/microsofts-ad-campain-against-cyclists

Allan Folz
Allan Folz
11 years ago
Reply to  matt picio

OK. But that isn’t the case with Zipcar so choosing to make an issue where there is none shows, at best a thin skin, at worst an Orwellian dogmatism, and most likely the humorlessness of a zealot. All of which I find distasteful and borderline creepy. Regards.

9watts
9watts
11 years ago
Reply to  Allan Folz

“But that isn’t the case with Zipcar ”
you just asserted that. But the folks on bikes are represented as dupes, as hopelessly wedded to their bikes when they are clearly not the ‘right tool for the job,’ as incomplete without a car. That I think is a slightly milder form of what Matt was getting at.

Mike Fish
Mike Fish
11 years ago
Reply to  Allan Folz

That is the case with zip car.
Regards.
PS No YOU’RE borderline creepy…. 😛 🙂

Indy
Indy
11 years ago

Gonna side with nobody on this issue. Hopefully the human race can decide on the merits of various transportation systems without banners or marketing pushing them any which way.

q`Tzal
q`Tzal
11 years ago
Reply to  Indy

Optimist!

cycler
11 years ago

As a big zipcar user, I’m disappointed in their going for the easy laugh and in showing a situation that is ridiculously simple to address with a pannier.

Now, if they’d shown someone trying to move or carry home a dishwasher or a 4×8 sheet of plywood I think that would be more reasonable. There clearly _are_ people who have the special bike equipment to carry such heavy/ unwieldy loads, but I think there are a lot of people who use bikes for 95% of their transport needs, but who find zipcar a good option for when they do need to move something extraordinary.

Chris
Chris
11 years ago

Are we really unwilling to admit that riding a bike in a freshly pressed suit with briefcase on a warm day is a recipe for pit stains, extreme sweatiness, and general discomfort? I mean, I’m all for riding whenever possible, including using panniers/trailer/pack/etc, but to get up in arms at the notion that there are certain drawbacks to riding a bike in certain situations seems pretty silly.

was carless
was carless
11 years ago
Reply to  Chris

I have seen many businessmen wearing suits bicycling. Try riding the NY Subway in the middle of August wearing a suit. You’ll sweat just as much…

Chris
Chris
11 years ago
Reply to  was carless

Gasp! How could you portray NY Subways in such a negative light? That’s very anti-alternative transportation of you! Also, are you implying that businesswomen don’t ride bikes? That’s sexist!

jon
jon
11 years ago
Reply to  Chris

thousands of people in the netherlands ride in suits daily as do many on bike share systems in this country

annefi
annefi
11 years ago

Well done, Shane, Russ, and Tomas!

Natalie
Natalie
11 years ago

The ad isn’t a huge deal, but it is annoying. It’s like marketing beer to women by telling them “sometimes you just need a man’s drink”–it’s poor logic, kind of insulting, and shows that they aren’t bothering to think on the same level as the people they’re trying to make money from. I think Zipcar–a company that I otherwise have zero qualms with–made a poor choice and that this is a fun way of showing them that.

Here’s my remake of the ad: http://postimage.org/image/1nbsh6kdg/

9watts
9watts
11 years ago
Reply to  Natalie

zero qualms? What about their recent pact with Ford Motor Co. to buy lots of their crappy cars when to date they’ve focused on relatively fuel sipping Hondas and Toyotos?

Psyfalcon
Psyfalcon
11 years ago
Reply to  9watts

The Focus is rated for nearly 40mpg highway and is brand new. Its not a Prius downtown, but it compares favorably to the non- hybrid models from Toyota or Honda.

The crappy Fords (28city, 38hwy) comes in 1 mpg lower than your fuel sipping Civic (28-39).

9watts
9watts
11 years ago
Reply to  Psyfalcon

I stand corrected. Thanks.

jon
jon
11 years ago
Reply to  9watts

F-ix O-ften R-epair D-aily

matt picio
11 years ago
Reply to  Natalie

Natalie – love the analogy, and your remake.

RH
RH
11 years ago

I don’t see anything wrong with the ad. Yes, sometimes you need a car….and sometimes you also need panniers. Relax.

K
K
11 years ago

I’ve been first a Flexcar, and now a Zipcar user, for many years now, and have been consistently impressed by the great service they offer, as well as their wonderful customer service.

As a cyclist, the ad is a little patronising perhaps, but on the other hand, I’m sure the ad wasn’t meant to be inflammatory per se. I ride a bike for 99.9% of all trips. But sometimes, juuuust sometimes, I DO need a car. Renting twelve foot long skiis from REI for instance! Not all of us have access to a huge bike trailer at the last minute.

I think context is key here. I’m curious whether this was part of a series of photo ads for Zipcar. Other ads could include –

* A pedestrian lugging a chest of drawers down the street about to collapse in a heap
* A soon-to-be carless motorist dropping their car off at the mechanic’s garage for a week
* A hot air balloonist, in the middle of a field, with a hole in the balloon.

Brian E
11 years ago
Reply to  K

To your Balloonist, “Sometimes you just need a patch kit”.

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu
11 years ago
Reply to  K

What do you use a 12 foot ski for?

Alan 1.0
Alan 1.0
11 years ago
Reply to  Machu Picchu

Really Big Air

Randall S.
Randall S.
11 years ago

My thoughts: If I had an interview at OHSU, and I had to wear my suit and take my papers, could I do it on a bike? Sure. However, it’s currently 33C out, and I’d be pretty sweaty by the time I got there. I could pack my suit in a pannier, and try to shower when I got there, but that’s pretty inconvenient, and I only know they have showers because I work there.

Or, I could walk across the street and take a nice, cool ZipCar. I think the ad portrays a great example of when ZipCars are appropriate.

Mindful Cyclist
Mindful Cyclist
11 years ago
Reply to  Randall S.

Exactly! I am not going to take a bike to an important interview or if I am at work and have to go several miles to give an important presentation. I think maybe that is what ZipCar may have been trying to portray.

Not all of us cyclist own muliple panniers or burley trailers.

dwainedibbly
dwainedibbly
11 years ago

Why not take the bus?

Mindful Cyclist
Mindful Cyclist
11 years ago
Reply to  dwainedibbly

A bus could be a good option. Unless you need to make two transfers and suddenly it adds an hour to your trip.

jon
jon
11 years ago

except if you ride a bike regularly you definitely live within 5 miles of OHSU so a bus is not going to take that much longer

Mike Fish
Mike Fish
11 years ago
Reply to  Randall S.

Sorry, I missed the part in the ad where they said that both of those people we’re going to OHSU interviews and that it was 33 degrees out. My bad. Might still have other options though, or did I also miss the part about their destination being inaccessible by public transportation?

BicycleDave
BicycleDave
11 years ago
Reply to  Randall S.

If they’re going to an interview at OHSU why are they on a flat. Why not a steep hill?

Noelle
Noelle
11 years ago
Reply to  BicycleDave

I live six miles from the tram. Take it easy and you can arrive fresh and lovely if your interview or presentation is in the morning. Just sayin.

Tomas Quinones
11 years ago

Thanks! I’ll try to continue to use my power only for doing good deeds.

Mike
Mike
11 years ago

Wow. Considering their demographic (non-auto owners), I wonder if the point of the ad is lost by most of the thin skinned and easily offended?

Zipcar is not suggesting people go out and buy vehicles. It is attempting to show that there is an alternative to owning an automobile and using one only when necessary.

Is this really something to get worked up over, or perhaps something we should be supporting? I guess it is easier to get angry and play a victim.

Mindful Cyclist
Mindful Cyclist
11 years ago
Reply to  Mike

I could understand if a car company posted this ad, but not ZipCar. Wow, is right!

Tomas Quinones
11 years ago
kathy
kathy
11 years ago

I have to chime in another vote for “I’m a non-car owning cyclist/zipster who doesn’t find this offensive.” Sometimes I just really need a car. That’s why I HAVE a zipcar membership – for when riding my bike isn’t practical. Their ad is for people just like me who ride most of the time and sometimes get a zip.
P.S. I picked up a zipcar to go to a late night show a couple of weeks ago and they left me a gift basket – how cool is that?! I love zipcar – without them I wouldn’t be able to be carless. I’d have to suck it up and own car and carry insurance and deal with the maintenance costs of something I barely used.

fiat_luxe
fiat_luxe
11 years ago

FWIW, this is a piece of a larger campaign, one with images showing a shopaholic at a bus stop, two guys with a canoe at a subway/metro platform, musicians on a subway car, and a fellow whose significant other is throwing all his stuff onto the street out of the second storey window of a brownstone.

I agree that the bike visual could have been tweaked to be less obnoxious — such as using the canoe imagery instead — but overall I like the campaign as I feel the implicit message is, “You don’t *always* need a car, just sometimes.”

Natalie
Natalie
11 years ago
Reply to  fiat_luxe

Wait, so the women in the ads are shopaholics and psycho girlfriends and the guys are canoers, musicians, and unlucky boyfriends?

…And this ad is supposed to appeal to non-car-owning bicyclists who are already comfortable commuting by bike (but know of better situations where they actually would rent a zipcar)…

…And Streetsblog posted an article last month ( http://www.streetsblog.org/2009/08/03/zipcar-takes-the-anti-urban-route/ ) about ZipCar’s disingenuously anti-urban advertising tactics…

Sounds to me like Zipcar isn’t bothering with greenwashing its product anymore and is just going with mainstream advertising tactics: quasi-humorous truisms, stereotypes, and anything that’ll get them a little extra attention.

Chris
Chris
11 years ago
Reply to  Natalie

Who said the shopaholic was a woman or that the musicians were men? Stereotypes?

Natalie
Natalie
11 years ago
Reply to  Chris

No, I looked at them. Feel free to do so yourself. zipcar.com

Mike
Mike
11 years ago
Reply to  Natalie

Rather than that, I am boycotting Zipcar. I am buying my Jepp Gran Cherkee today.

That’ll show ’em!

jon
jon
11 years ago
Reply to  fiat_luxe

sounds like ‘sometimes you need a delivery service’ (as was the case in cities before total auto domination)

Andycigarettes
Andycigarettes
11 years ago

Looks like they should have had a V-8 this morning.

Monica
Monica
11 years ago

On Friday, I hauled 20 gallons of heavy deck restore stuff home from a big box home improvement store in a Zipcar Prius. THAT was a time I needed a car–I should have invited their photographer over.

dmc
dmc
11 years ago
dmc
dmc
11 years ago
Reply to  dmc

ahahahhah, thanks Jonathan! I would have spent more time on it if I knew you were gonna post it! These are extremely fun. I hope you post photoshop projects in the future!

esther c
esther c
11 years ago

I think the theme is good and bike friendly. Just poorly executed. Should have shown them doing something that couldn’t easily be done by bike.

dmc
dmc
11 years ago
Reply to  esther c

yep, that’s what I was thinking in my first image.

Lance P.
Lance P.
11 years ago

I have sent an email to both:
info@zipcar.com and Kaleb Miller <kmiller@zipcar.com. They need to know that spitting on their customers is unacceptable. If they don't want me as a customer any more (4+ years) fine.

9watts
9watts
11 years ago

Doesn’t it really boil down to one’s mindset? Zipcar is in the business of being there/convincing us that at times they are there for you. This dovetails very nicely with our gradually dawning realization that we can really do a whole lot of stuff without a car, and certainly without owning a car.

But, really, do we ‘sometimes need a car’? I think that is a question we’ll argue about forever. I’m working on setting up a small inner-SE bike trailer rental business because I think this offers another solution to exactly the problem we’re talking about here. Part of the answer is having good technical-infrastructural options; another part is about what we’re used to or comfortable with. I can haul just about anything on my bike trailers that someone else needs a Zipcar for. But I also understand–and don’t expect–that this is for everyone. Making a wide variety of bike trailers more available to me seems like a way to fill this gap for some folks.

dmc
dmc
11 years ago
Reply to  9watts

The word “need” is often misrepresented. It is a much more powerful word than how most of us use it today.

BicycleDave
BicycleDave
11 years ago
Reply to  dmc

I was thinking the same thing. “Want” would be more correct, but “need” allows the customer to feel less guilty.

Greg
Greg
11 years ago

I think it upsets most “car free” folks because it pokes them right in their hypocrisy. The fact is that they DO occasionally need the use of an automobile. Zipcar stands to fulfill that need and provides a valuable service for the otherwise car free individual. On the other hand, you could just continue to bum the use of a car or truck off of your friends that you simultaneously look down your nose at for owning the raging steel cage of a fume belcher.

9watts
9watts
11 years ago
Reply to  Greg

Greg,
are you saying this as someone who is quote-car free-unquote? It kind of doesn’t sound like it. What is with the ‘hypocrisy’ epithet?
Would you rather those folks who claim to be quote-carfree-unquote didn’t bother? Would you rather they had a car? Why not appreciate that they’re trying to live without a car, and perhaps even doing a helluva job at it? Why the suspicion, the gotcha tone?

What is in your view hypocritical about living without a car 95% or 98% of the time and catching rides or renting a zipcar the rest? Do you dream in black and white?

Mike
Mike
11 years ago
Reply to  9watts

So Zipcar should launch a campaign applauding those who do not and would not use their service?

Perhaps they could just give their advertising dollars to me and I can spend it on burritos for feral cats.

9watts
9watts
11 years ago
Reply to  Mike

Mike,
not so fast. Here’s how zipcar presents itself vis-a-vis how their business coincides with people driveing less, biking and taking public transit more:
http://zipcar.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=231
an excerpt:
Key findings from the survey include:

Eighteen percent of respondents have sold their vehicles since joining Zipcar, and 46 percent stated that they have avoided buying a car.
Seventy-two percent said being a Zipcar member made it less likely they would buy or lease a car in the future, which could result in fewer personally owned vehicles across the city competing for parking spots.
The number of Zipsters taking five or more car trips in a month has decreased from 38 percent, to 12 percent, and the number of respondents driving fewer than 500 miles per month has increased by more than 17 percent.
Fourteen percent bike more, 21 percent walk more, and 11 percent use public transportation more. More than a third of respondents say they use public transit to get to a Zipcar.

q`Tzal
q`Tzal
11 years ago
Reply to  Mike

YEAH! Kitties are cute but they prefer cheeseburgers:)

Natalie
Natalie
11 years ago

Relax.
Thin-skinned.
Easily offended.
Playing the victim.
PC.
Soviet propaganda.

…Do you guys ever wonder where your rhetoric comes from? You’re doing every conservative bigot who hired a thinktank to turn those concepts into insults a huge favor every time you regurgitate them.

aaronf
aaronf
11 years ago
Reply to  Natalie

Since when is “thin skinned” just rhetoric? It sounds descriptive (and accurate in this case) to me.

Imagine a situation where someone you respect really WAS being thin skinned in your opinion, and they were offended by something that you feel does not merit their over-zealous response… how would you communicate that to them?

Without any “rhetoric” :p

xiousgeonz
xiousgeonz
11 years ago
Reply to  Natalie

Huh? Is it “thin skinned” to respond to an ad that portrays cycling falsely? Speak for yourself, please; if speaking up for myself is thin-skinned, then I’m proud of it. Maybe you just think “it isn’t nice” (remembering Malvina ;))

beth h
11 years ago

Sometimes you just need new infrastructure.
..::sigh::..
Until we have that, sometimes folks will just need a car.
(Still, I love Russ’ “bike” poster and would buy one to frame if I could.)

Tomas Quinones
11 years ago
Cychosis
Cychosis
11 years ago

Wow, come on guys, this is not a big deal. There are actual bike unfriendly companies and entities out there that we should direct our energies toward — I don’t think Zipcar is one of them.

Deeeebo
Deeeebo
11 years ago

This only poses a problem for people who self-identify so unilaterally with the Portland bike-rider brand that this has to be taken as a personal affront. Diversify your life, see it as a goofy picture and move on.

Jerry_W
Jerry_W
11 years ago

I don’t see a problem with this ad. I know of one bike advocate, car-free type who regularly asks to borrow someones car to take his kids to the beach, or other activity. I think the message from Zip is right on.

BicycleDave
BicycleDave
11 years ago
Reply to  Jerry_W

Doh! Now I’ve finally figured it out. That guy is carrying swimsuits and an umbrella in his briefcase. And I thought he was going to work.

Brian
Brian
11 years ago

The only thing I really wish about Zipcar is that all their cars had a bikerack on the back/roof as standard!

Unless the Zipcar near my house is free, I often have to bike to the Zipcar I’ve reserved fifteen blocks away to pick it up, and then put the seats down and put my bike in the back, drive back to my house, take the bike out, put the seats back up. Then I’m ready to roll in the Zipcar!

Chris Tuttle
11 years ago

If you think about it, the flipside of what is being said by the ad is that most of the time you don’t need a car. This didn’t even register on my offense-o-meter.

Mindful Cyclist
Mindful Cyclist
11 years ago

Let’s consider this is probably a national ad. Not all cities that Zip Car is located has up to an 8% bike commuter rate. We don’t own cargo bikes and some of us (gasp) don’t have kids so we don’t have an bike trailer in our garage.

If I saw this ad first in a magazine instead of here, it would not even have been an issue.

Al from PA
Al from PA
11 years ago

First they laugh at you and belittle you, then they fight you, then you win.

We’re just at the starting point…

Aylene
Aylene
11 years ago

Let’s just all remember that Zipcar is a for-profit company looking to make a buck any way they can. If they seem to have been friendly to bicyclists in the past, it’s only because they thought there was some profit to be made with that group… They are not necessarily interested in getting people to drive less – they really just want people to drive THEIR cars.

Jen
Jen
11 years ago

I think a better ad would be to show a zipcar with a bikes on a bike rack which some of them have.

jon
jon
11 years ago

sometimes you just need b-line

q`Tzal
q`Tzal
11 years ago

The angst here is all about the image Zipcar wants to portray. 1st and foremost a private busness cares about profit and as self important as we feel here in Portland we are still a MINORTY.

If Zipcar wants to spend their advertising budget in the most profitable way they need to spend it on the MAJORITY which are auto driver who have never considered a bicycle a valid transportation device.

What this ad does wrong is t highlight the disadvantage of not just bicycles but of not owning your own auto full time.
Playing the powerful angle of envy of your peers against fear of being unprepared they are unintentionally telling their BIGGEST POTENTIAL market growth segment “you can’t win without a car and you’ll never know when you’ll need one.”

Portraying the auto as the status symbol that it unforntunately is and the fear of being without can only lead the target demographic to want a vehicle all to them self.

Zipcar’s self sabotage is done on the heels of denegrating cycling IN THE EYES of the majority: this makes it disgusting on top of stupid.

peoples republic
peoples republic
11 years ago

and sometimes cyclists just need a sense of humor.

Marcus Griffith
Marcus Griffith
11 years ago

I thought the AD was cute, but again it takes a fully trained dominatrix to get my panties in a bunch.

Brian Johnson
11 years ago

That’s part of a rotating display. Others show a band with their instruments on a train, a woman waiting for a bus, and a guy getting his stuff thrown out of a window by his ex-girlfriend.

Should we get bent out of shape about an apparent jab at public-transit? Or maybe people throwing guitars out of a window?

This is a little out of proportion, folks. Sometimes having access to a car is indeed handy. We don’t all need to be driving around all the time, but being able to transport large, heavy, bulky items easily by car when you need to is okay.

9watts
9watts
11 years ago
Reply to  Brian Johnson

Few people here are arguing that point. What I think many, though, are saying is that it is unfortunate if not reprehensible that they make their ‘you sometimes need a car’ point by setting up a preposterous biking scenario in which the protagonists are shown to be fools for trying to make do without a car; acting as if they didn’t need a car when we all can plainly see that in this situation the car would solve all their problems. See how that reifies car use as normal, as the fall back, as sensible? That’s what irks.
Most of us probably find the core principle of car sharing fine. And we’re not arguing that point here.

Emily
Emily
11 years ago

I actually found the zipcar ad quite humorous. I am a car-free mama of six who has visited the zipcar website several times and toyed with the idea of joining – except there are no 8 passenger zipcars in Pdx! Sometimes you just need a bicycle:) I carry 5 on my bike regularly, sometimes 6 with a friend, plus a 5 gallon water thermos, plus my stroller, plus whatever else we pick up along the way. I gave up my car after regular lectures from the AAA battery jumper guy that if I didn’t drive my suburban often I should at least take it for a little jog around the block every week to keep the battery juiced. Keeping up with 6 kids is a full-time job…. so having to “walk the needy Suburban” wasn’t too appealing. So I sold it. I have found that you really can carry all sorts of things on a bicycle.

Rol
Rol
11 years ago

You know I just love sh** like this, but I’ll pass on the PhotoShopping and instead share this:
http://tinyurl.com/qekphz
Sometimes you just need a car.

Rol
Rol
11 years ago
Reply to  Rol
Opus the Poet
11 years ago

Something nobody else has brought forward, but the different images are connected to different vehicles on the bottom of the page… There is a specific vehicle that is highlighted for the bike picture (and you can go look at it for yourself).

are
11 years ago

cycler
Now, if they’d shown someone trying to move or carry home a dishwasher or a 4×8 sheet of plywood I think that would be more reasonable.

i have done both

Jym Dyer
11 years ago

=v= Zipcar has a “caption this photo” contest on Facebook. The following is my contribution (and is based on real-life situations):

“Eduardo, the entire bottom floor of this ugly building is devoted to parking. How did we get past the local ordinances?”

“Simple, we said we’d devote a portion to eco-groovy car share parking, and the fools fell for it. Of course, this building will still mostly be a parking garage long after Zipcar is out of business.”

“Oh yeah, our usual greenwash approach. Is that why we’re arriving on these fauxie bikes, instead of hiring messengers the way we usually do?”

“You got it, Jenna.”

Will Campbell
Will Campbell
11 years ago

Down here in Los Angeles Zipcar swallowed up its predecessor FlexCar a few years ago and then promptly and literally gave zip to us dedicated FlexCar members by consolidating all cars around USC and UCLA campuses without so much as a hint of warning or an iota of consideration.

ZipCar can do no right in my book, and this ad is just further proof of that.