DETROIT -- General Motors Corp. has withdrawn a Corvette commercial that shows a young boy driving wildly through city streets after safety advocates complained, the company said yesterday.
Leaders of seven auto safety groups wrote Tuesday to GM chairman Rick Wagoner to protest the television spot, saying it sent a dangerous message.
GM spokesman Joe Jacuzzi said the automaker pulled the ad for its 2005 Corvette in response to that letter and other consumer feedback. The ad had been running during the Olympics broadcasts. Titled "A Boy's Dream," it features a sequence in which a clearly underage boy is shown behind the wheel, attempting unrealistic maneuvers at high speeds.
Judith Stone, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, welcomed GM's decision. "We're delighted that they did the right thing," she said.
Stone pointed to real-life cases in which children as young as 5 have tried to imitate their parents by taking out their cars.
"Promoting illegal and risky behavior in ads viewed by millions of families -- especially young males -- watching the Olympics is egregious corporate behavior," the authors of the letter said. "It is doubtful that General Motors would condone the beer industry showing a 'dream sequence' of 10-year-old children having an after-school 'kegger.' "
Jacuzzi said the ad never was intended to depict a real-life situation. "The intention right off the bat was to capture a boy's aspiration of driving a Corvette in a very exaggerated way," he said. He said the company received positive reviews as well as criticism of the ad.
Janette Fennell, founder and president of Kids and Cars, said the Corvette ad made a big impression on her 9-year-old son.
"Kids, especially boys, love cars," Fennell said. "There has to be a strong message that a car is not a toy."