Zipcar Takes the Anti-Urban Route

zipcar.jpgPhoto via PSFK

While Zipcar looks to entice drivers to give up vehicle ownership, another pillar of its marketing strategy is that car-sharing is an environmentally friendly service for city dwellers who normally travel by other means, presumably including public transit and even their own two feet.

This is why a couple of recent Zipcar campaigns are so puzzling. As seen on PSFK, Zipcar staffers were spotted "clocking" and "ticketing" New York pedestrians for moving too slowly. In an earlier print campaign, the company encouraged subway riders to "burn rubber," and pictured a Zipcar peeling out like a race car — not the most responsible message in a city where pedestrians die at the hands of motorists an average of once every three days.

Transportation Alternatives tried to get Zipcar to pull the "burn rubber" ads. But despite a pledge that the company would not only nix the campaign but do more to educate its clients on safe driving, nothing has happened.

Instead of goading pedestrians and transit users into getting behind the wheel, wouldn’t it make more sense to try to get car owners to reduce congestion and pollution by swapping their daily driver for a Zipcar membership and a MetroCard?

We have a message in with chief marketer Victoria Godfrey about the pedestrian promotion. In the meantime, here’s an Advertising Age interview from January where Godfrey discusses Zipcar’s "feet-on-the-street" growth philosophy.

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