GMC SIERRA: REAL TRUCK
In some cases, uncovering the implied ethics of an ad is an exercise in uncovering the basic logic the ad is asking you to accept. This commercial asks you to “imagine your first bike” as it projects an image of a boy joyfully riding his first bicycle. But then, the commercial challenges you to think bigger: “No, your first real bike.” This is accompanied by an image of a man riding an expensive road bike. Finally, the commercial arrives at its juicy conclusion: “So can you imagine the feeling you’ll get from your first real truck?” The commercial then cuts to the heroic shot of a GMC Sierra charging down the road.
The intention of this sequence is clear: since riding your first bike was great, and riding a better bike was better, then driving a Sierra will be absolutely mind-blowing. In logical terms, this is a brand of SYLLOGISM... if A is great, and B is better, then C is best.
But for a syllogism to work, the premises and conclusion have to be related in some fundamental way. Each piece of the puzzle has to fit. But how exactly is a truck anything like a bicycle? Sure, it’s on wheels, but isn’t that where the likeness ends? Wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to end with a comparison to a motorcycle, or at least as much sense with a comparison to a stretch limo? There’s no reason why a passion for bicycle riding should translate to a passion for truck driving. The two things are different in more ways than they are alike. (And all of this is setting aside the fact that many people would likely remember their very first bike with more joy than their first over-priced performance bike.) The result is a SYLLOGISTIC FALLACY. It would make as much sense to say, “If you like cheese sandwiches, then you’ll love grilled cheese sandwiches, and you will absolutely freak for hot dogs.” Premise A does not necessarily lead to Premise B, and leads nowhere close to conclusion C.
Sometimes the implied ethics of an ad are just a fundamental lack of respect for the mind of the consumer. This approach is at best careless, at worst manipulative, and essentially lazy.