What you used to be able to see in that ad was a ridiculously dressed guy who feels humiliated because high gas prices forced him to... cycle to work. The subtext from State Farm is that biking to work is something you are reduced to, not a valid option on its own. It can't possibly be a choice!State Farm Director of Marketing Communications Tim Van Hoof explains why they pulled the ad:
As I mentioned in an earlier comment, I am 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. In fact, we take very seriously each letter, email and blog comment we receive.
During the past few days, I discussed the perception of this advertisement 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.
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.
Now lets see if State Farm will be receptive to some of the suggestions made by StreetsBlog readers.
Update: If you want to discuss this and make some suggestions to State Farm, head over to the TreeHugger Forums where a discussion about this has been started. If we get enough interesting ideas, we'll try to get them to State Farm.
Thanks to Aaron Naparstek for the tip.