GMC Misfires with #Woke Campaign. Ford Prospers.

A black and white photo of a boy playing with a dump truck

If you’re in the market for a new truck and are comparing the 2019 Ford F-150 vs 2019 GMC Sierra, your decision might have just been made easier – depending on the intensity of your socio-political beliefs.

As we all know, and might have even forgotten by this point, razor-giant Gillette made massive headlines in January with their controversial long-form commercial, which asserted a clear and decisive position in the ongoing debate of #ToxicMasculinity.

Stemming from the company’s trademark slogan, ‘The Best a Man Can Get’ the commercial encourages customers (and all men) to become ‘The Best a Man Can Be.’ Challenging men to become suitable role models for younger generations of boys, in the hopes of furthering gender equality in the generations to come.

The results were…mixed.

While Gillette was applauded by many for their bold statement, many criticized the company for both the overall execution of the campaign and the subtext, which seemed to send a mixed message. Claims of reverse sexism and racial lopsidedness seemed to prevail, and some pointing out the inherent hypocrisy of #WokeCapitalism.

Setting aside the overwhelming vitriol being thrust outwards from both sides of the debate, The Lemon aims to remain neutral in the debate. But when automotive juggernaut General Motors seized the opportunity to create some positive press (following multiple plant closures and thousands of layoffs) we could no longer sit idly by, without offering some perspective.

Playing upon similar ideas, the campaign (exclusive to GMC models) makes the self-affirming declaration that they offer “The Best Truck a Man Can Get.” As with Gillette, the commercial consists of a number of slow-moving, desaturated images intended to stir both emotion and sentiment from its male viewers. Shots of fathers and sons working under the hood, and young boys playing with toy trucks are among the mainstays. But the shots then pan out, to feature young girls and women waiting to the side, as if to imply that ‘the boys weren’t letting them join in the fun’. Of course, the commercial then proceeds to show the little boy handing his prized toy truck to a girl, so that they can play together. The father, then invites his daughter to look under the hood.

And while we applaud the sentiment (enjoying it quite a bit when our daughters help work on the car, or participate in any activity that defies gender stereotypes) the commercial loses us with the tagline. Why? Because GMC trucks have never been the best truck a man can get. And while we are perfectly willing to buy a truck from a major corporation that operates with some degree of operational immorality – let’s be clear – no-one likes a liar.

But you know what people do like? A Ford truck (argue with me, and I’ll call you a rapist).

There are a lot of reasons why Ford’s F-Series are the best selling trucks of all time, and GMC manages to keep fighting it out for fourth place. And while we’d be far more appreciative of their open-minded commercial had it been an original idea, copy-catting it after seeing how the attempt backfired at Gillette feels short-sighted. And I don’t know if I want to buy a truck from a company that can’t see that far in front of its face.

Especially if they’re a liar.


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