Ford Motor Co. marketing photo.
I’ve found the moronic portrayals of fly fishing by ad agencies to be almost humorous up to this point. You’ve all seen the bad-casting actor with a saltwater rod in a tiny brook, the silly rubber hippers and dopey hats. Those are all ultimately caricature representations of fly fishing by marketing “gurus” who apparently realize fly fishing is “aspirational” enough to sell pharmaceuticals, insurance, investment services and SUVs … but clearly don’t understand or give a rip about the sport. It seems as if they’ve only ever walked on pavement and never actually gotten their boots wet.
That’s a pity. Because now, more than ever, with so many people finding or re-attaching to the outdoors and particularly rivers and streams, it’s time to show how to respect and share river resources responsibly.
The other day I watched an ad for the rebirth of the Ford Bronco. For the record, I’ve bought three Ford SUVs and am stoked to see the Bronco come back in a new sporty incarnation.
The ad was witty: A colt raised by goats… learned its footing in mountains and rivers and such… became a “Bronco.” The new Bronco.
But then to show how wonderful it was, they had to run it through a river. Maybe only a fraction of a second in the 30-second spot, but there it was.
It’s a bogus representation of where quality performance meets the outdoor ideal, and it’s a bogus representation of what true anglers and hunters really want in terms of capability.
Running over rocks in a flowing river only screws up the river. If you’re an angler, a hunter or otherwise, you already know this. Bombing through a river doesn’t’ make you a hero, it makes you a jerk.
Moreover, I think this messaging creates a serious public safety issue. It only takes a few inches of running water to throw any vehicle off. In flash floods, some will say a mere three inches of fast-moving water can wipe you and your vehicle off a bridge, let alone wash you down a river. Do we really want people driving through moving water with the overconfidence that some company showed them their vehicle could handle it?
So, auto companies, if you want to imply that your vehicle can handle the roughest tests, like plowing through snow and working on rocky roads, be more careful. I don’t think the image of driving through a river is anything less than shameful. And I think inspiring people to drive through moving water is dangerous and irresponsible.
Jeep already totally dropped the ball. TU tried to reach out, to no avail. Ford is totally dropping the ball now.
Maybe you companies should talk to some of us who actually fish and hunt and explore the backcountry and otherwise, before you use our sport to project your products. Maybe you should actually get off the pavement — with your feet first.