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Old 04-15-08, 01:21 PM   #1
Biking_Lawyer
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Power of the internet

In response to the infamous State Farm Commercial, I wrote an e-mail to their customer service department---its posted in the A&S. Here is the response I received. Given tha the add was denigrating commuters, I thought it appropriate to post the response in here:



_________, 2008

Dear ______________,

Thank you for your email regarding our advertisement that features a cyclist riding his bike to work. We have read your concerns and those of others with similar concerns. We take very seriously each letter, email and blog comment we receive.

I discussed the perception of this ad with others at State Farm, and we decided the right thing to do would be to discontinue it. We will remove this ad as quickly as possible from the current rotation schedule.

We are sorry the advertisement offended anyone. Our intention with this particular ad was to recognize and empathize with the everyday challenge of high gas prices, and suggest that State Farm could help by providing lower auto insurance rates than a person may be receiving from their current provider. But, clearly we have heard your concerns.

This change is being communicated directly to those who have corresponded with us, but I also ask that you pass this message along to others whom you know have a similar concern about this ad.

Please know that State Farm is very concerned about doing what we can to improve the health, safety and environment in our communities. For example, in numerous states, employees can earn up to $1.50 a day by ridesharing, walking, or riding a bike to work. We also have more than 1,200 employees participating in van pooling throughout the country.

State Farm has also been a supporter of bicycle safety through the thousands of bicycle rodeos we’ve held for children throughout the US and Canada. We remain open to discussion about how State Farm might partner with the bicycling community in the future.

We value direct consumer input as we make decisions about our advertising messages and safety programs. As a mutual company with no stockholders, we work hard to be good stewards of our policyholders’ money.

If you’d like more information about State Farm, go to statefarm.com or talk to a local State Farm agent.
Thank you,
Tim Van Hoof
Director of Marketing Communications
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Old 04-15-08, 01:45 PM   #2
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I'm still not sure what the big deal about this ad was. They made a joke about cyclists in spandex, oh my god they must be anti-bike? Did they hurt us with their words?

If we can't laugh at ourselves a little bit we're doing something wrong. I personally find the superhero suits somewhat comical and the image of a guy wearing bright red lycra with a suit top definately made me chuckle.
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Old 04-15-08, 02:00 PM   #3
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In response to the infamous State Farm Commercial, I wrote an e-mail to their customer service department---its posted in the A&S. Here is the response I received. Given tha the add was denigrating commuters,

To borrow a phrase from the road forums... some of you need to HTFU.
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Old 04-15-08, 02:22 PM   #4
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I'm still not sure what the big deal about this ad was. They made a joke about cyclists in spandex, oh my god they must be anti-bike? Did they hurt us with their words?

If we can't laugh at ourselves a little bit we're doing something wrong. I personally find the superhero suits somewhat comical and the image of a guy wearing bright red lycra with a suit top definately made me chuckle.
You're one of the few who wasn't offended by it, from everything I've seen. The big stink that certain people were making was over the concept that cycling to work is something you're "reduced to doing", not something you make a decision to do.


I didn't see it until the day before they pulled it. I think it's funny. I also think the commercial with the guy with his suit and briefcase huffing his way up the hill on what appears to be a little kid's bike is funny.
Unless they show a commercial encouraging people to door me or run me off the road, I don't care if some insurace company pokes a bit of fun at cyclists to sell their automobile related products. I don't see it as any different than cyclists making broad-sweeping statements about "fat SUV drivers" when promoting their own choice in transportation.

BooHoo... State Farm picked on cyclists in a commercial. JeffS called it... some people need to HTFU.
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Old 04-15-08, 02:29 PM   #5
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Hold on a second---its not as if I decided to organize a protest outside their office or anything. My "feelings" were not hurt if that is what you are getting at. My problem with the add was that many people, including professionals, commute to work via bicycle of their own volition. The add simply reinforces existing stereotypes that only poor pople or "loosers" or someone who is "forced" to ride a bike to work will do so. This in turn reinforces the underlying notion that bikes do not belong on the road and are not a legitimate means of actual transportation (as opposed to sporting/recreation).

Did I lose sleep over the add? No. But if writing a letter means I have one less car honk at me or a driver telling me to get off the road, then it is worth it.
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Old 04-15-08, 03:45 PM   #6
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Hold on a second---its not as if I decided to organize a protest outside their office or anything.

I'm just picturing a few hundred people in suit jackets, dress shirts, ties, and bike shorts... like in the commercial. Maybe we should mount a protest. hehehe.

My "feelings" were not hurt if that is what you are getting at. My problem with the add was that many people, including professionals, commute to work via bicycle of their own volition. The add simply reinforces existing stereotypes that only poor pople or "loosers" or someone who is "forced" to ride a bike to work will do so. This in turn reinforces the underlying notion that bikes do not belong on the road and are not a legitimate means of actual transportation (as opposed to sporting/recreation).

I see it as a bit of a logistic jump, getting from the commercial all the way to illegitimization (is that a word?) of bicycles as reasonable transportation, but that's just me. I thought that more than anything it reinforced the average individuals distaste for lycra in the workplace with the "Nice pants, Jim" comment. I work in a laboratory professional environment, and I've never had anyone question my transportation decisions... I have heard people crack on my "fashion sense" though.

Did I lose sleep over the add? No. But if writing a letter means I have one less car honk at me or a driver telling me to get off the road, then it is worth it.

If it gets less drivers to give you guff, then hopefully the letter accomplished its purpose. Your letter was mild when compared to some of the ludicrous rants and tangents people went off on, spurred by this advert.
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Old 04-15-08, 03:49 PM   #7
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Hold on a second---its not as if I decided to organize a protest outside their office or anything. My "feelings" were not hurt if that is what you are getting at. My problem with the add was that many people, including professionals, commute to work via bicycle of their own volition. The add simply reinforces existing stereotypes that only poor pople or "loosers" or someone who is "forced" to ride a bike to work will do so. This in turn reinforces the underlying notion that bikes do not belong on the road and are not a legitimate means of actual transportation (as opposed to sporting/recreation).

Did I lose sleep over the add? No. But if writing a letter means I have one less car honk at me or a driver telling me to get off the road, then it is worth it.
Protest is protest. The only real question is what is the most effective form that you can afford.

I agree with you on this one. This ad makes the choice of bicycle commuting seem like the "Choice of Losers". Nothing wrong with us protesting it. It's wrong, so wrong.

Who knows, if we get our political clout together, one day a bicyclist might become President.
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Old 04-15-08, 04:05 PM   #8
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I'm just picturing a few hundred people in suit jackets, dress shirts, ties, and bike shorts... like in the commercial. Maybe we should mount a protest. hehehe.
OMG! I'd have to buy a coat, nice shirt, tie.......... I thought the "nice pants" was a subliminal was to say "nice ass".

I've seen it a number of times, and it took a while to realise that it was the same ad that people were upset about. Jeez folks, lighten up! But, then again, if this is the biggest thing in your day to get upset about..... you got a good life.
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Old 04-15-08, 04:43 PM   #9
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The add simply reinforces existing stereotypes that only poor pople or "loosers" or someone who is "forced" to ride a bike to work will do so.
Well, the guy in the State Farm ad was wearing a suit, indicative of him working a "real" job like you, and some lycra, so he probably had an expensive bike, so I assume he was a "real" cyclist like yourself and not some DUI or Mexican or whatever.

The real issue for me was not the ad, but how much people were willing to read into it just to get offended, as if it gratified them psychologically to do so. Speaking personally, I think that if you are being murdered, brutalized, censored by the government or fired for your looks ,beliefs, etcetera, you are being discriminated against, anything else and you're just choosing to be offended. I have been discriminated against in my lifetime, so stuff like this where cyclists want to act like an oppressed group and whine whine whine is very exasperating for me. And leave it to the A&S, Commuting and Living Car-Free forums, there's one of these stupid "Let's Boycott _____!" -threads at least once a week, usually cross-posted to all three forums by the same sandy vagina. It's quite baffling.
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Old 04-15-08, 04:56 PM   #10
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offended or not i am impressed that they actually listened to the people who expressed concern about the ad.
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Old 04-15-08, 05:03 PM   #11
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Good job on the letter. I fully support the decision to pull the add, and I am not one of those politically correct crazies either. It was a bad add that propagated the myth of cyclists.
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Old 04-16-08, 12:55 PM   #12
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Well, the guy in the State Farm ad was wearing a suit, indicative of him working a "real" job like you, and some lycra, so he probably had an expensive bike, so I assume he was a "real" cyclist like yourself and not some DUI or Mexican or whatever.

The real issue for me was not the ad, but how much people were willing to read into it just to get offended, as if it gratified them psychologically to do so. Speaking personally, I think that if you are being murdered, brutalized, censored by the government or fired for your looks ,beliefs, etcetera, you are being discriminated against, anything else and you're just choosing to be offended. I have been discriminated against in my lifetime, so stuff like this where cyclists want to act like an oppressed group and whine whine whine is very exasperating for me. And leave it to the A&S, Commuting and Living Car-Free forums, there's one of these stupid "Let's Boycott _____!" -threads at least once a week, usually cross-posted to all three forums by the same sandy vagina. It's quite baffling.
Very well put.
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Old 04-16-08, 01:27 PM   #13
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Ok,this is the ad where the suit rides home on a kiddie bike right? That ish was funny. They were only showing,by paraody,how difficult life can be after an accident/AoG/theft. And that dude was well 'ard to do that commute on that bike!
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Old 04-16-08, 01:53 PM   #14
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Ok,this is the ad where the suit rides home on a kiddie bike right? That ish was funny. They were only showing,by paraody,how difficult life can be after an accident/AoG/theft. And that dude was well 'ard to do that commute on that bike!
Yeah, but let's make it realistic. Next time let's have the clowns run a commercial where they follow me on my commute, on a nice sunny day, as I fly over the dedicated bridge the MUP gets over busy roads. Then zoom out as I wave to the half-mile of backed-up traffic in both directions. Dub it over with "And I was paying $3.50 a gallon to sit in that??? Not anymore!"

I wasn't offended by it so much as annoyed by the false advertising.
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Old 04-16-08, 03:16 PM   #15
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Humor almost always pokes fun at something or someone, and it seems that someone is always offended...

If the object of the humor is a certain race, it is racist...

If the object of the humor is female, it is sexist...

If the object of the humor is a bicyclist, it is anti-cycling...

We as a group should work at not being offended by something funny, and concentrate on expressing our outrage effectively against real issues like safety on the roadway.

Any publicity is good publicity!!!

BTW - I liked the commercials...

Heck, I got yelled at Saturday by some kids sitting on top of a hill, but it was easy to let their BS about my weight slide right off my back because I was doing what I wanted to do. We should be the most self-satisfied group around, as I can think of no greater stress reliever than cycling... Even when it does introduce some stress of its own.
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Old 04-16-08, 03:27 PM   #16
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Any publicity is good publicity!!!
I get your point, but no, it's not. This is like saying the LA riots did a lot of good combating racism, it didn't, at all, and just gave loathsome racists another excuse. Torturing logic, common sense and what any grown adult knows about marketing (they are not in the business of insuring cyclists,) just so you can be the A&S version of Rosa Parks for a week is fundamentally silly, and I really don't want to be lumped in with you people when motorists are having conversations about cyclists.

I'd rather it be something along the lines of "I know this guy who's hardcore, who rides to work even in the rain and cold." That's much better than "Oh, there's Kris. You know he sent a multi-page letter to State Farm comparing himself to Ghandi over that funny commercial with the guy in a suit jacket and lycra?"
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Old 04-16-08, 04:19 PM   #17
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I thought about sending a letter of protest, but then. Isn't this "normal" cager mentality? There must be something wrong with any adult on a bike. Of course there's nothing wrong with someone smoking, drinking coffee and talking on their cell phone while going down the street at 50 mph in a 30 mph Zone.
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Old 04-16-08, 08:51 PM   #18
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I've seen the ad and I think they made a good decision to pull it.

If one is increasingly finding themselves in a position where they can't afford the expenses that come with owning a car, poking fun at bike commuting is going to backfire. The ad is "funny" because it is so ridiculous. Bike commuting is looking more and more attractive to people-- financially and aesthetically. The commercial was an amateur hack.

One of the most powerful and interesting commercials I've ever seen is an early Hummer ad called "The Race" in which a kid builds a soap box derby style Hummer. From the music (The Who's "Happy Jack") to the incredible storytelling, it is a work of art-- and I HATE cars, especially Hummers.
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Old 04-16-08, 09:43 PM   #19
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Hold on a second---its not as if I decided to organize a protest outside their office or anything. My "feelings" were not hurt if that is what you are getting at. My problem with the add was that many people, including professionals, commute to work via bicycle of their own volition. The add simply reinforces existing stereotypes that only poor pople or "loosers" or someone who is "forced" to ride a bike to work will do so. This in turn reinforces the underlying notion that bikes do not belong on the road and are not a legitimate means of actual transportation (as opposed to sporting/recreation).

Did I lose sleep over the add? No. But if writing a letter means I have one less car honk at me or a driver telling me to get off the road, then it is worth it.
I totally agree with the idea of one more driver holding his peace being worth it. Last year, a simple sunday news article did the job for the rest of the calendar year! From April 'til New Year's, not so much as one honk or exchange of vulgarity. Now, THIS year....

Just had to reply cuz of the image in my head at this post -- imagine a critical mass w/ everyone in 'mens warehouse'..."you'll like the way we protest -- I guarantee it."
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Old 04-17-08, 06:35 AM   #20
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To borrow a phrase from the road forums... some of you need to HTFU.
What's the H for?
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Old 04-17-08, 06:49 AM   #21
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I'm still not sure what the big deal about this ad was. They made a joke about cyclists in spandex, oh my god they must be anti-bike? Did they hurt us with their words?

If we can't laugh at ourselves a little bit we're doing something wrong. I personally find the superhero suits somewhat comical and the image of a guy wearing bright red lycra with a suit top definately made me chuckle.
YOu're right, those guys riding utility bikes with lights and racks are funny too. ANd those guys riding those wierd front pedal bikes that look like recliners. And those guys riding on knobby tires.

It is always ok to make fun of somebody as long as it is not you.
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Old 04-17-08, 07:08 AM   #22
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incorrect

Have you ever heard of self deprecating humor?
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Old 04-17-08, 07:21 AM   #23
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Sometimes it's actually funnier when you are the butt of the joke. A lot of truth is said in jest.
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Old 04-17-08, 07:35 AM   #24
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not some DUI or Mexican or whatever.
Oh no you didn't!

As a person of 1/4 Hispanic heritage I find that statement insulting! I'm offended!

JK!

Lighten up people!

As Opus said "Your being offended offends me!"

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Old 04-17-08, 07:44 AM   #25
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What's the H for?
Harden
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