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Five Wacky Ways Automakers Try To Sell You New Green Cars

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In the automotive world, there’s a constant struggle going on between automakers keen to encourage customers to choose their green car over the competition. 

Just after a major auto show or car launch, automakers find it relatively easy to sell new car, especially if they have lots of new features or impressive gas mileage.

But at other times of the year when consumers are looking to other big-ticket spends, ad agencies and PR firms start to get creative.

Sometimes the result is a unique and clever ad campaign. More often however, the resulting press releases are humdingers that make us howl in pain.

Here are some of the worst attempts we’ve seen to get publicity for a new green car.

1) You’ll save enough to continue buying your morning Joe

We’re used to automakers using real-world analogies to explain how much fuel their latest green car saves, but we’ve never before encountered an automaker that has tied together power steering, coffee and gas. 

Enter Chevrolet and the 2012 Malibu Eco. Equipped with eAssist and electric power-assist steering, the Malibu Eco is capable of achieving 25 mpg city and 37 mpg highway. 

According to GM’s press release, that means you don’t have to worry that rising gas-prices will force you to give up a morning cup of coffee from the local Starbucks drive-thru on your way to work. 

2) Your kids will learn to read

Mazda CX-5 Truffula Tree Friendly

Mazda CX-5 Truffula Tree Friendly

Enlarge Photo

When Mazda announced a new ad campaign centered around Dr. Seuss’s 1970s children's’ book The Lorax, we admit it came across as a cutesy way of selling the compact crossover SUV.

But when it was later reported that Mazda was entering into elementary schools and using kids to pester their parents into test-driving the car, under the auspice that doing so would help raise money for the school, the ad campaign quickly turned sour.

3) Polar Bears will hug you

In the green car world, ad campaigns that focus on a green car’s environmental impact aren’t unusual. After all, they’re called green cars for a reason. 

In September 2010 however, Nissan took the idea a little further, producing what we like to call the Bear Hug ad. 

Simply put, the sickly-sweet ad revolved around the conceit that Polar Bears would literally walk thousands of miles to give hugs to Nissan Leaf owners, thanking them for not destroying the polar ice caps.

2011 Nissan Leaf BearHug

2011 Nissan Leaf BearHug

Enlarge Photo

4) You’ll make oil barons mad

Sometimes, the distinction between a good advert and an offensive ad is so small that it becomes hard to figure out which it is. Sometimes it’s obvious. 

Which is why a 3-year old ad for the 2008 Nissan Tilda gets a mention. 

In it, an actor clearly dressed as a wealthy Arab oil sheikh attacks a fuel-efficient Nissan Tiida parked outside his offices, presumably because it doesn’t burn as much gasoline as he’d like it to. 

Watching it once made us cringe. And no, we’re not linking to it.

5) Aliens will covet your car and your wife

What is it with aliens and women? That’s what we want to know after watching the 2012 Superbowl ad for the 2012 Chevrolet Volt. 

In it, a tired Volt owner comes downstairs late at night to ask the group of curious aliens -- who have already visited several times this week -- to quit probing his Volt for advanced technology. 

As he’s doing so, his wife appears in shot, dressed her night robe. And of course, the Aliens get just a teeny-bit excited...

It’s funny, but hardly a decision maker when buying your next car. Especially if you like a good night’s sleep.

Missed any?

If you think we’ve missed some pretty poor ad campaigns and press releases designed to get people buying a green car, let us know in the Comments below. We’d love to hear from you.

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  1. Interestingly, they have an alternative cut of the Volt alien commercial where the aliens don't get excited about seeing the wife. Maybe someone thought better of it.
     
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