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Ad Nauseam

“Ad-Nauseum”: Audi Takes Greenwashing to the Next Level

9:28 AM PST on February 9, 2010

Picture a future where a smiling multi-racial police force, who apparently answers to nobody, moves unchecked through society arresting and detaining people for offenses to the environment.  Use plastic bags at the grocers?  You're arrested, frisked, and handcuffed before being frog marched from the store.  Set your hot tub at too high a temperature?  You're chased, mostly naked, through your back yard by a hoard of police officers.  Sound like a nightmare scenario dreamed up by a conservative talk radio host?  Nope, it's just another greenwashing attempt from the same car company that mocks cyclists, bus riders, pedestrians and people who drive cars run on vegetable oil.

Audi's offering for the Super Bowl, "The Green Police", is really something to behold.  From the admittedly catchy theme song parodying "The Dream Police," performed by eighties super-cover band Cheap Trick, to the celebration of gestapo tactics against environmental offenders; Green Police has something for everyone.  The Huffington Post calls the advertisement "hilarious," while Grist beams that "The ad only makes sense if it’s aimed at people who acknowledge the moral authority of the green police."  Of course, the only way to avoid the unchecked power of the Green Police is to buy an Audi that is powered by "clean diesel."

Completely absent from the commercial is any mention or image of cyclists or pedestrians, which is actually sort of an improvement from past ads.  The aforementioned vegetable oil powered car?  It's still waiting at a Green Police Vehicle Checkpoint while Audi's are waived through.  The attractiveness of the segway seems to have improved since it was mocked last fall, the electric powered vehicle is now the transportation of choice for the Green Police...when they're not in their helicopter or car caravan.

But Audi inadvertently has sent the correct message to the middle-class masses who might be interested in purchasing their diesel fleet: That buying this car is the best way to feel good about yourself without really doing much for the environment.  After all, it's the same paramilitary police force that sees that car as the answer to our environmental crisis that can't compute the amount of environmental destruction caused by a helicopter raid against someone not composting or surrounding a house with squad cars because the person isn't disposing of their batteries correctly.

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