New GM Ad: Our Cars Are No Longer “Grenade-Like” Death Traps

In the midst of a reputation-damaging string of recalls now totaling more than 11 million vehicles, General Motors is in need of an image shake-up. But the carmaker may be getting a little too honest in a new TV commercial.

The above ad* appeared on Sunday’s episode of HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, oddly enough, in the middle of a segment mocking GM for its attempt to cover up the ignition defect that has resulted in at least 13 deaths. The ad also makes use of many of the terms — such as “grenade-like,” “rolling sarcophagus” and others — that a recently uncovered internal GM memo had instructed employees to not use.

While we appreciate that GM would want to reassure drivers that its vehicles are not “Kevorkianesque” or “catastrophically flawed” or “potentially disfiguring,” its new slogan — “Why walk through the valley of the shadow of death when you can drive?” — is a bit grim.

Maybe the company has learned its lesson after being slapped on the wrist for $35 million (which is less than $2.7 million per known death) for waiting 13 years to acknowledge an ignition defect it knew about before the first recalled vehicles hit the road? Probably not.

*Yes, I know it’s a parody and not an actual commercial. You can now stop writing that nine-paragraph corrective e-mail to me about it.