I did not accept GM's invitation to visit Detroit for their Dadmobile junket for several reasons, some logistical, some ethical, and some on principle. The first category is boring. The second category pretty flimsy, considering I'm already on record offering endless, fawning coverage in exchange for a DOT/EPA-certified Mercedes A- or B-Class.
My principled objection was not based on the topline of their survey-driven Dadmobile media campaign, which is rock solid:
Move Over, Mom: Dad's Becoming the Car Pool KingGreat. Sounds right. About time. Actually, no. GM's been targeting their full-size family vehicles at dads since at least 2008, when they launched the Chevy Traverse and its rebadged brethren. [Remember this annoying kid?]
National survey finds majority of fathers active in driving kids to and fro
And I don't even dispute the survey results that men prefer other types of cars to minivans:
While moms may prefer minivans for their sliding doors, more than half (58 percent) of the dads surveyed prefer to do their business, personal and leisure shuttling in a family hauler that doesn't question their masculinity. In fact, survey results demonstrated that fathers gave their current family vehicle a 6.4 "cool" rating on a 10-point scale.Wait, what? Hold on, there, Top.
On the most basic level, it makes perfect sense for a company which offers no sliding door "family haulers" to argue that they're not cool. Or even necessary. But what GM is doing here is marketing to men by grabbing onto an association between sliding doors and minivans with women--and then giving it a squeeze with the assertion that such a car--a sliding door family car--"questions their masculinity."
And that bugs.
For one thing, just flip this interpretation of Chevy's survey results around: 42 percent of dads apparently "prefer" driving cars that "question their masculinity." Really?
Actually, I just realized this preference finding relates to "their business, personal and leisure shuttling," which were different survey categories from family shuttling and carpooling. In other words, it's the cross-functional core of the crossover offering. You're fine taking the kids to school in anything, but you don't want to drive your team to Five Guys in the minivan. Is that what this is about?
Crossovers, especially vehicles like the Chevy Traverse, are basically car-platform-based SUVs. They've come a ways since 2004, when Malcolm Gladwell so thoroughly debunked the comforting myth of SUV safety. But I think crossovers like the Traverse still cling to the SUV illusion of safety through power and street dominance. It's as if GM's brand DNA still contains traces of Hummer, the military-wannabe SUV named after a blowjob and driven most often by insecure douchebags.
Which gets me back to the question in the headline. Any thoughts?
Oh man, how could I get this far without even mentioning the nutso Dads Gone Wild Honda Odyssey video made by that one agency on spec?