If you live in the United States, you’re probably aware of the March Madness NCAA Basketball tournament that’s been going on for quite awhile now. If you’ve been watching, you’ve probably seen a commercial for BMW, called Cute Cottage.
In the commercial, a couple driving an X3 pull up to a cottage, which seems to be overgrown with tall grass, run down and decrepit. They pull up with caution and see a woman, in a tattered bath robe and grim look on her face, standing on the porch. The couple seem frightened by her, so they ask Siri for some information, to which Siri warns them of previous “slayings” at the cottage. The husband then asks the ConnectedDrive personal assistant in the car to reroute them because “She seems crazy.”
Seems like a pretty harmless commercial, right? Apparently, Linda Rosenberg, CEO of the National Council of Behavioral Health, doesn’t seem to think so. “This went beyond just the word [“crazy”] for us,” she told CNBC. “It was saying that word, and then behaving as if someone who has a mental illness doesn’t deserve your help. … They’re just going to walk away,” says Rosenberg.
Rosenberg sent a letter to BMW demanding the commercial be pulled from the airwaves and off television. BMW responded to Rosenberg, saying “We are deeply sorry to anyone that was offended by this ad, as it was certainly not our intention. The ad was intended to spoof a horror movie.”
BMW also is starting to take the ad off the air, claiming “The ad is naturally starting to run out of our ad-buy rotation.”
The woman depicted in the ad did not have any noticeable, specific mental disorder and the couple only leave because of the ominous tone surrounding her and the cottage, and because of Siri alerting them of slayings that occurred at the cottage. So naturally, the couple are going to leave. They aren’t leaving this woman because of the lack of desire to help a mentally ill person, they’re leaving for fear of being “slayed”.
The humor in the commercial is obvious, the joke is clear and the ad works.
The commercial is clearly a spoof on cheesy horror movies and in no way specifically mocks mental illness. To look at it in such a way is a product of one’s own doing and not the intention or even implication of the ad. But without a doubt mental health issues are no laughing matter, so we understand why some people could get offended.
The process of removing the ad has started and the wheels are already in motion.