Both sides in SUV war launch PR efforts

Detroit: The PR war over SUVs is heating up with both pro-SUV and anti-SUV forces launching new initiatives to take their cases to the public.

Detroit: The PR war over SUVs is heating up with both pro-SUV and anti-SUV forces launching new initiatives to take their cases to the public.

The Sport Utility Vehicle Owners of America started the latest exchange with ads - and an accompanying PR effort - bearing the tagline "What does Jesus drive?" The ads were a parody of earlier anti-SUV ads, which asked, "What would Jesus drive?"

The Sierra Club took its shot at GM's mega-SUV Hummer last week with a parody website, hummerdinger.com, which pokes fun at the giant, $50,000-plus vehicles.

"The goal was to let people know, in a humorous way, how much gas the H2 [Hummer] guzzles," said Zach Roth, media coordinator for the Sierra Club in Washington, DC.

The group was looking for a new way to capture media attention for its messages that SUVs are bad for the environment and that automakers can make them more fuel-efficient, Roth said. Without the attention created by the new site, "it's the same old story of 'Sierra Club attacks SUVs,'" he explained.

Jason Vines, head of Stratacomm's Detroit office and president of the SUV owners group, said his organization's communications effort was designed to poke fun at anti-SUV groups, but also to encourage people to sign a petition on his group's website asking opponents to stop anti-SUV efforts. The owners group believes such efforts encourage extremist groups that have been known to torch SUVs on dealer lots.

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