Why, when suggesting that riding a bicycle is an important part of building a ‘greener’ city, does PG&E pick a recumbent bike with a big flag sticking out the back? Why not an everyman’s bike that readers will see and say to themselves, “Oh yeah, I could do that.”
Why is he all alone, trying to stay between the MUNI rails, with a car about to pass him on the right? Isn’t this the exact situation that my friends have in mind when they say “I don’t feel comfortable biking in the city”?
Why do they say “Green is this guy”? They might as well write “Green is that guy”. ‘This guy’ puts him at a distance from us, the mainstream reader.
What if, instead, PG&E chose a younger, sexier — no offense — model, maybe a woman, on a stylish city bike, in one of the bike lanes that SFBC has fought so hard for, with three other bikers flanking her in the background (as is often the case on Market St. in the morning hours)? Instead of saying “Green is this guy,” they could personalize it by saying “Green is Karen Jones”.
If you’ve seen “Who Killed the Electric Car?” you know that, just because a company advertises a product, doesn’t mean that they necessarily want people to buy the product. In the case of the electric car, there’s strong evidence that GM and Toyota wanted to kill their electric car programs and were only advertising them to fulfill the legal requirement in California.
In the case of PG&E’s Let’s Green This City campaign, they are advertising individual action such as bicycle riding, but obviously not doing it in the most persuasive way they could.