TAC enters advertising hall of shame

A recent advertisement from the TAC, published in The Age, has ruffled bike feathers by insinuating riding a bike is some sort of punishment.

Dr Alexa Delbosc brought this to attention online with the following Tweet:

As it often does on Twitter, outrage ensued. 

Of course, we understand humour can be an effective marketing strategy, and that the purpose of this add is to ultimately make the roads safer – however too often we see large influential organisations (often at the hands of smart-aleck advertising agencies) spreading a harmful wider-message that bike riding is for losers. 

A similar campaign by WA Road Safety Commission in 2018 aimed at denouncing speeding drivers depicted riding a bike as "social suicide, ridiculous and the choice of no one if they have an option to drive a car".

Then Road Safety Minister Michelle Roberts was forced to step in and cut the campaign short, and remove it from online, after negative feedback from bike groups, health advocates and the general public. 

It was called out then, has been called out now, and will continue to be called out until it stops.

Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richards expressed his disappointment in decades of hard work to cultivate a bike-friendly culture in Victoria being undermined by a silly ad.

"The state government is investing millions in rolling out pop-up bike infrastructure to help promote active transport, but then some advertising agency slips this completely contrasting message through in an attempt at humour. I'm baffled by it, to be honest."

The caption in the recent advertisement issues the warning, "you might even need a bicycle to get around" – as if the only transport option that simultaneously increases physical and mental wellbeing, reduces carbon emissions and air pollution, decongests roads, improves liveability and reduces the cost of living for Australians is something to be feared.

It's hard to imagine a future where ads like this are not looked back on with shock and shame.

TAC issued this Twitterpology the next morning:

After discussions with the TAC, we’re confident they won’t repeat such a gaff, but sadly we’re not so sure we’ve seen the last of this type of cringeworthy creative.

This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.