Sometimes perfection can become an obsession. In this commercial from GM, a manufacturing line robot is busy at work when it drops one of its screws. Everyone around it turns to it in sorrowful disappointment; a foreman comes over and lays a hand on the robot, who is clearly disappointed with its own blunder. As some human coworkers look on regretfully, the robot rolls itself away from the company as “All by Myself” plays in the background. The robot rolls past cars and is forced to try several different jobs-including holding “for sale” signs for house sales and the speaker for a drive-thru restaurant window-at which it fails time and time again. At the end of its rope, the robot stands on the edge of a bridge, looking first at the waters below and then at several GM cars that roll by on the road behind him. Gazing down at the water one last time, the robot finally takes the plunge, toppling into the cold waters below. As it makes contact with the river, we see the robot standing in the factory; I’m sure many viewers found themselves eerily relieved that it was just a dream. As the robot looks around in its own sense of relief, an announcer tells us that the GM one hundred thousand mile guarantee has everyone at GM “obsessed with quality.”
Whether this commercial was great or terribly upsetting, I leave to each viewer to decide. Yet the idea of even a factory floor-working robot being obsessed with the perfection of its work was enough to get this commercial embedded in my memory throughout the remainder of the Super Bowl. I found myself thinking, “Those must be some pretty great cars.” And indeed, that’s what GM would have us believe. Yet using the concept of suicide as a sales pitch isn’t exactly what one would call “politically correct.” In fact, it’s not even close to being sensitive to the emotional states of many television viewers and everyday citizens dealing with bouts of depression and dissatisfaction with their lives. The fact that it was all a dream seems to redeem the commercial a bit; and it does recover a little on the humor side when the commercial suggests that this horrific nightmare was a result of being obsessed with GM’s quality.
Overall, I’d give this commercial a good rating. It’s a little touchy, and, as several who watched it along with me stated, “Touches your nerves” in a sympathetic and possibly positive way. Overall, it did manage to give the idea that the GM Company is, indeed, “obsessed with quality.” Maybe next time they’ll think about being more sensitive to the issues everyday people are facing outside of marketing their product. Until then . . . let’s all just rest happy knowing that little yellow robot is safe and sound!
Watch the GM commercial here: