This article on PR disasters after the Silverado Strong blunder has some interesting comments. But it really made me think about some other PR campaigns and where they went wrong.
The one that comes immediately to mind is this commercial from Mercedes-Benz.
My roommate and I looked at each other and rolled our eyes when we saw it — at least the first time. Then it started making us angry.
Woman: I didn't realize I was drifting into the other lane. I was literally falling asleep at the wheel.
How does this happen? I get that you might drift a bit, ma'am, and I certainly understand this in high winds (I've driven an original VW Beetle in a crosswind)… but you were "literally falling asleep at the wheel." If you're too tired, pull over someplace and get some rest. You're endangering yourself and everyone else on the road.
Second Man: It got my attention, telling me I wasn't paying attention at the wheel.
Why are you allowed to be behind the wheel, sir? What are you doing besides driving? Texting? Probably.
Third Man: I had no idea that the car in front of me had stopped short.
With all due respect, sir, you are a dick. People do not stop short. You were following too closely, even if you're Merc stopped because you were driving harder than your abilities allow.
This last point is the one that angers me the most about this commercial, so I'll reiterate.
People do not stop short. If you believe this, you also believe you are somehow the God of the Road and are therefore the Fair and Unbiased Judge as to where other drivers should stop their cars. But here's a fact: you're not driving their car, you're driving yours. So you should concentrate on what you're doing. Drive defensively. If you're not tailgating, not doing something besides driving (texting, talking on the cellphone, looking anywhere but at the road) for the conditions, and actually paying attention, you'll never have an accident or a near accident because someone "stopped short."
As far as the technology is concerned, anything that causes fewer accidents is a good thing. But Mercedes-Benz's whole campaign is built around people that shouldn't be on the road. Seriously, these people should have their licenses suspended until they take some driver's education courses.