UAW Members Said "No" To Commercial Before It Aired

By: Lauren Zakalik Email
By: Lauren Zakalik Email

Before the multi-million dollar commercial hit the Super Bowl airwaves, some Lansing autoworkers got a sneak-peak. What they saw-- a robot dreaming of committing suicide-- was not what they had in mind.

"[We told them] we're serious about quality, but we think it doesn't represent the right thing with the whole suicide thing," says Mike Green, vice chairman of the shop committee for UAW Local 652.

With the GM Grand River plant's reputation on the line, Green asked GM execs to delete that scene.

"We were lead to believe it wasn't going to be in there."

But it was, and it aired in front of more than 93 million viewers. Now GM is faced with angry auto-workers and miffed mental-health advocates.

"I saw the commercial, and I just thought, did they have to do that?" says Dr. Dennis Martell. Martell deals with suicide prevention on a daily basis in his job as a health educator. He says in no way was this commercial appropriate or humorous.

"They can get across the point of what they wanted to say in the commercial without having to give an option of a robot jumping off a bridge," Martell says.

Martell says suicide is a top cause of death in people ages 15 to 24.

"As a society, we have a responsibility to guard those messages we send out," he adds.

In response to the national backlash against the commercial, GM has pulled it from the air. And advertising execs are now re-tooling the commercial to remove the suicide scene. But Green worries the damage has already been done.

"We're here to put together a quality car. When that's jeopardized, it's very irritating," he says... especially when human life-- and human work-- is at stake.


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