Melissa McCarthy’s terrible Kia ad


Obviously greenwashing isn’t new. I first recall hearing about it over a decade ago, and it is, depressingly, still going strong. Also not new is humor aimed at the idea of tree-huggers saving the environment. In general, I’m not opposed to this. Of course, subjectively, some do it better than others. But combining humor with selling a product directly implicated in environmental destruction [1], not to mention climate change, is pretty reprehensible.

This can be seen in the new Kia/Melissa McCarthy commercial, which I will neither link to nor embed. For those blissfully unaware, Melissa McCarthy finds herself in some pretty hilarious situations in her role as eco-warrior. And it’s a hit! I’m sure Kia’s shareholders are stoked, as is the natural world which can now breathe a sigh of relief. In general, car commercials are some of the most cloying examples of environmentally harmful companies attempting to manipulate one’s emotions with maudlin drivel (“Love. Its what makes a Subaru, a Subaru.” Puke.).

Let’s see what the CEO of Kia has to say:

People will go to great lengths to support the causes they are passionate about, and the Niro is a “smarter kind of crossover” for those looking to go green without making sacrifices…The Niro is like nothing consumers have seen before, and with an audience of over 100 million people tuning in, Melissa McCarthy is the perfect partner to tell the world about Kia’s uniquely alluring yet practical new crossover.

The last thing I’d want to do in my personal efforts to save the world is make any kind of sacrifice. Like, if doing anything beneficial for the planet involves sacrifices I say fuck that. I know when I’m driving a car I need that extra UMPH to make me feel like a STRONG MAN. And not only just a STRONG MAN, but one who CARES about things.

McCarthy, from the same article above, had this to say:

For years, I’ve been trying to find the perfect project that combined the real threat of me breaking every bone in my body, with my desire to help save the environment. Thanks Kia!!!  XOXO Love, Melissa.

For the first time in a long time, I think we’re on the right track. I’m just glad that doing my part to save the planet is as easy as running over to my Kia dealer and buying a brand new $23K car. The fact that I can laugh about a funny lady slamming into the side of a boat and being chased by a rhino is icing on the cake.

World=Saved.


 

[1]

Historian Mark Foster has estimated that “fully one-third of the total environmental damage caused by automobiles occurred before they were sold and driven.” He cited a study that estimated that fabricating one car produced 29 tons of waste and 1,207 million cubic yards of polluted air. Extracting iron ore, bauxite, petroleum, copper, lead, and a variety of other raw materials to process steel, aluminum, plastics, glass, rubber, and other products necessary to construct automobiles consumes limited resources, uses great amounts of energy, and has serious environmental repercussions. In recent years, for example, the automotive industry in several developed countries was a major purchaser of iron and steel (30 percent), lead for batteries (46 percent), aluminum (23 percent), and platinum for exhaust fume control (41 percent). Approximately 75 percent of the cost of the industry’s power comes from electricity, but the auto industry also consumes natural gas (15 percent of energy expenditures), and coal and coke (over 8 percent), as well as steam, oil, and propane.

Comments

  1. Johnny Vector says

    Oh yeah, I saw that ad during some recent sportsball thingy. I remember it making me want to down a shot of whiskey while doing the tango and the foxtrot.

    On the other hand, as for Mark Foster, a single non-peer-reviewed study by a historian, from 1981, is pretty unconvincing. I have no reason to believe (or disbelieve) his number. I’d like to see a modern study, by a materials expert. Cars last a lot longer now, and contain substantial amounts of recycled materials. I suspect the manufacturing costs are a significantly smaller fraction of the lifecycle costs these days. Also, how do ICE and electric vehicles differ in their lifecycle costs. It would be great to know whether going electric is as useful as I hope it is.

    • says

      Totally agree. I tried (not hard enough) to locate a peer-reviewed, more recent study that took into account what you mentioned. And then I got sidetracked and decided, eh fuck it – the fact that auto manufacture necessitates massive amounts of raw materials is self-evident. It’s likely things have gotten incrementally better in terms of recycled materials, better practices, etc. But I would also imagine that more cars are produced now (this page says about 20 million more in 2011 than in 1999: http://www.worldometers.info/cars/).

  2. Johnny Vector says

    Eh fuck it is probably the correct response. Even if car manufacture requires 3x less raw material now than back in the 80s, it’s still a huge amount.

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