Why I hate the Audi “Green Police” Ad

Posted by on February 9, 2010 in Green/Sustainability, Marketing, Showcase |

Our family hosted a Super Bowl party that included another couple who also has 4 year old twin sons and a friend who brought over his 3 year old daughter and year and a half year old son. So as  you can imagine, it was fairly chaotic constantly and we didn’t get a chance to watch and analyze each and every Super Bowl ad as we typically have in years past.

But I did happen to watch when Audi’s now notorious “Green Police” ad ran and I immediately hated it. If  you haven’t seen it, I’ve embedddd it below. But it begins and showcases a society being run by “Green Police” – who are arresting people for various violations such as drinking bottled water and using incandescent light bulbs. The only person who escapes is a man driving an Audi A3 Diesel – which Audi is quick to point out was named “Green Car of the Year” by Green Car Journal. But as the Christian Science Monitor noted, “Audi’s eco-friendly alternate universe looks rather Orwellian, with checkpoints, raids (one man is pulled out of a hot tub; at 105 degrees, the temperature was too high), and constant intrusion into people’s private lives — a kind of libertarian nightmare.”

Libertarian nightmare? How about the rest of us who value our privacy and freedom. And yes, Greenies can and do fall into that group as well.

What I hate about the ad is that it reinforces the stereotype and false assumption that those of us who care about the environment and are pushing for Greener and eco-friendly alternatives have a secret agenda to control other people’s lives – and that the only way we are going to have a Greener society is if it’s mandated and rules by a heavy-handed police state.

Yes I know it is supposed to be a parody of sorts but if you are trying to tout yourself as being an environmentally-friendlier alternative, you might want to consider your target market more carefully before mocking them in a commercial during the most-watched TV event in American history.

I am not alone within the Green community who believes that the biggest change is driven by choice. Studies have shown that most consumers will choose an eco-friendly alternative if provided the alternative and there is no perceived difference in quality. This is why I have been among the many who have been working hard to help create a larger Green marketplace – so that people will have eco-friendly choices as consumers.

There is a time and place for legislation to step in to help accelerate the process or to stop practices that we know are doing significant harm to the environment and/or climate. Recent plastic shopping bag bans by various cities (including my very own Edmonds) is an example where this serves us well.

Yes I know that there are those who say that it’s a slippery slope to use legislation as a tool to change societal behavior – the question is always “Where do you draw the line?” I think that the line usually draws itself in most situations – especially when you are trying to make changes that will have profound impact on your younger and future generations.

It wasn’t long ago when smoking was allowed everywhere – offices, shopping malls, even airplanes! But the health community and advocates pressed on and showed the serious negative effects second hand smoke has on non-smokers. When the smoking bans first began, there were cries about the loss of liberties for smokers and the negative impact they would (somehow) have on society. But we have survived with liberties intact and non-smokers now have healthier environments.

And as far as I know, the “No Smoking Police” is nowhere to be found.

Shame on you Audi.

Audi 2010 Green Car Super Bowl Commercial

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