This isn’t even a new low.
A new viral Dodge ad has some street safety advocates outraged at the notoriously aggressive automaker — but others point out that this is just the latest chapter in the company’s long history of commercials openly promoting the deadliest of driving.
On Thursday, the Stellantis subsidiary tweeted a new ad for the Durango SUV, which depicted a simple image of the 2.5-ton assault vehicle with a glossy red coat of paint threatening the lens, followed by the tagline: “A predator needs no camouflage .” and a grinning emoji.
The company later deleted the tweet, but only after it sparked angry backlash from hundreds of users, many of whom questioned a marketing strategy that highlighted the Durango’s killing power after one of the bloodiest years on American roads in recent history.
The Federal Department of Transportation estimates that more than 40,000 people will be killed in car accidents by 2021 – the highest number since 2007 – and experts say the rising share of trucks and SUVs in the national fleet is one of the reasons for the rise, especially among pedestrians. which drivers of large vehicles are two to three times more likely to kill than motorists who choose smaller cars.
The US has a record year of pedestrian deaths caused by oversized pickup trucks.@Cleverness: How do you do fellow predators? https://t.co/mt28otjUlT
— Thomas Eckert (@thomaseckert_) January 12, 2022
This “predator” is now available in:
‘Blood of Children’ Red
(“Needs no camouflage”) https://t.co/3JUUN2mcTE
— Speech (@Byclemore) January 13, 2022
all the car ads are like you can literally kill hundreds of pedestrians with this thing and look pretty sweet? https://t.co/eLsd6mG02y
— vanilla cola enjoyer (@capittalism) January 13, 2022
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time Dodge had openly compared its customers to cutthroat carnivores.
A 2015 double ad for the company’s Hellcat and Viper models featured a Phil Collins soundtrack over a snarling voiceover, despairing of a modern reality where people “don’t have to worry about predators like our ancestors; no saber-toothed tigers stalking out of the undergrowth, no terrifying wolves circling the camp. There are no more monsters to fear – so we have to build our own.”
When that commercial appeared in Streetsblog’s America’s Most Toxic Car Ad contest last September, we wondered why, exactly, anyone in their right mind would be on “team make-America-a-violent-prehistoric-hellscape-again” – and what it says about American culture that the idea of intentional stalking and killing something having a car would be such a strong selling point.
Even those ultra-aggressive posts weren’t bad enough to beat the competition, though. The infamous Dodge “Predators” commercial didn’t even make it past the first round – because it was compared to another Dodge ad that compared its cars to supernatural demons capable of shattering glass with just the sound of their speeding engines.
Dodge’s violent ads aren’t just a matter of bad taste. There is some evidence that depictions of aggressive driving can lead to such behavior among motorists on real world roads – evidence that countries around the world have responded by banning car advertisers from broadcasting them.
In particularly strict countries such as the United Kingdom, even the perpetual “closed-circuit professional driver” is not exempt. A 2018 Ford advert was banned from Britain for including a voiceover of the famous Dylan Thomas poem “Do Not Go Gentle” – you know, the one urging readers to “rage, rage against it dying of the light” – about depictions of officer workers increasingly enraged by the daily indignities of spilled coffee, overcrowded train journeys and obnoxious lectures from the boss.
At the end of the ad, a Mustang pulls out of a parking garage onto an empty public road; the car never travels as fast as the average car in a Dodge commercial, but the British Advertising Standards Authority still thought the behavior on the scene “endangered the driver, other motorists and pedestrians”.
For now, US watchdogs are not very likely to intervene, even when companies like Dodge openly market driving as a violent and predatory activity – let alone a horrifically fuel-intensive way to decorate a Christmas tree.
— Dodge (@Dodge) December 24, 2021
But given enough pressure from advocates, maybe one day they will — and in the meantime, those same advocates will fight for the kind of road designs that will slow down even the most speed-hungry motorists.
And along the way, they’ll even give one or two free biology lessons to the company’s advertisers.
Your chosen fursona, the ram, is a vegetarian. Also name a predator that has no camouflage. Go ahead. pic.twitter.com/1doR6L6wDO
— Pancake Town Hall (@peasantvision) January 12, 2022