There's a Contest for the Most Toxic Car Commercial

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Ever watch a car commercial and feel like something isn’t quite right? Whether it’s blatant greenwashing, unsafe driving practices, or in-your-face gender stereotypes, car commercials can be pretty toxic.
That’s why Streetsblog USA launched a March Madness-style contest for the most toxic U.S. car commercial. According to Streetsblog, the aim of the contest is to open up “a conversation about the impact that auto advertising has on American culture, as well as our roads and streets.”
A hand holding a remote in front of a TV
Streetsblog USA has launched a bracket-style contest to determine the most toxic car commercial in America.

How does this contest work?

Streetsblog’s competition, called “America’s Most Toxic Car Commercial,” is a bracket-based voting contest in which readers can select which commercial is truly the most toxic. These votes will be accompanied by deep dives into the issues surrounding these toxic ads—such as the glorification of unsafe driving and the auto industry’s neglect of the climate crisis—as well as activists’ input on what can be done about these issues.
Readers submitted their top picks through a Google Form or were able to simply tweet a YouTube link to the commercial as well as a brief explanation of why the ad deserved the title of “most toxic.” The hashtag #ToxicCarAds were used to mark submissions.
Streetsblog has specified that eligible ads must be videos that were aired in the U.S., though they don’t necessarily need to feature an American automaker. They give priority to ads from the last five years—those which, in their words, “are shaping U.S. car culture right now.”
Submissions opened in mid-August and closed on Sept. 3. Now, the voting process is in full swing.

What makes a car commercial “toxic?”

This is one of the most frequently asked questions about the contest, and Streetsblog has elaborated on what they consider to be a “toxic” commercial.
“There are certainly a lot of bad car commercials out there, but to claim the title of America’s Most Toxic Car Commercial, the submission should highlight something violent, aggressive, dangerous, disturbing, or otherwise corrosive about U.S. car culture,” said Streetsblog.
They add that some usual suspects of toxic car culture include dangerous stunts or otherwise risky driving practices, such as speeding, off-roading, or breaking the law. A toxic commercial might also be sexist, homophobic, or racist, or may glorify gas-guzzling or high-carbon vehicles. “Think big—chances are, we probably want to see it and poke a little fun at it,” said Streetsblog.

Which car commercials have made the cut so far?

Streetsblog is breaking up the contest into themes, so that voters can vote on which car is most toxic within an individual category, before moving on to voting for the number-one most toxic commercial. Some notable categories so far have included “A Toxic Masculinity Twofer,” “Greenwashing Edition,” and “Child Endangerment Edition.”
Each category features a face-off between two vehicles whose ads were especially toxic, often in a way that pertains to the theme. For example, the “Greenwashing Edition” of the contest pitted a commercial for the Mazda CX-5 against the “Clean Diesel” Audi A3. After reading a description of the ad and an analysis of why it’s problematic, readers are able to vote on which car they think is more toxic.
Start casting your votes now to have a say in which car commercial is deemed the most toxic in America.

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