Tuesday, March 14, 2006

On-Star: Useful service, creepy ads

Is it just me, or is anyone else creeped out by On-Star's radio ads? For those unfamiliar with On-Star, it is a subscription-based service available on GM cars and trucks. If you press the little On-Star button, you can ask for emergency assistance, call for ticket reservations...all sorts of things.

Initial ads were rather funny, with actual calls from people who locked themselves out of their cars, people who ran out of gas, etc. But lately, the ads have taken a more ominous tone, with actual emergency calls from people whose passengers have had heart attacks, drivers who've just been in accidents, and so on. These ads feature screaming, hysterical people in the midst of emergencies.

The point of the ads is that these are precisely the situations where On-Star would be life-saving. At the same time, I don't think people who signed up for On-Star realized their voices would be heard on nationwide radio (I'm sure the authorization is buried somewhere in service's fine print). If it was your mother, your daughter, or your friend, would YOU want their panicked voices available in commercial format for years to come? Seems like a perverse form of emotional porn.

- P


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