Kyle Johnson
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Buick Rips Off its Own Press Release to Capitalize on Erika Buzz

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Photo: © General Motors

In the midst of Winter Storm Juno, Buick put forth a press release extolling the virtues of its AWD-equipped vehicles and promising that they make driving around in the winter “more bearable.” Ostensibly, Buick took advantage of a buzzworthy storm to tout StabiliTrak, AWD, IntelliLink with OnStar 4G LTE, and heated steering wheels, a move that is so incredibly tone-deaf and transparent that the automaker had no choice but to do it again eight months later. And a day shy of the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, no less!

For the past week, the buzzworthy storm of note has been Tropical Storm Erika. The name of the storm and the season in which it occurs are just about all that’s changed in Buick’s approach to using a potentially catastrophic natural disaster as a vehicle for marketing the new features in its vehicles.

Don’t believe me? Here’s the introductory paragraph for the January press release (emphasis mine):

With predictions of up to two feet of blowing snow and coastal flooding in the Northeast through Wednesday, Winter Storm Juno is threatening to be the mother of all blizzards this season. While vehicle technologies can neither prevent clippers nor replenish empty bread shelves, Buick confidently forecasts they’ll help make getting around more bearable:

And here’s the intro for the release issued Friday (emphasis mine):

 As Tropical Storm Erika makes its way toward the Southeast, residents of Florida and the Carolinas are preparing for the storm to make landfall. While vehicle technologies can neither prevent flooding nor restore electricity, Buick confidently forecasts they’ll help make getting around more bearable:

Buick is confident that it’ll be more bearable to get around in a flood if you’re driving a Buick. Presumably because Buicks are also now impervious to water and, in extreme circumstances, have the ability to transform into boats and submarines. Seems like it would have been helpful to mention that feature here.

Worth noting: on the same day that this press release dropped, Erika caused landslides and flooding in Dominica that resulted in hundreds of destroyed homes and no fewer than 20 deaths, but hey, do they even buy Buicks there anyway?

The similarities between press releases don’t end there. Here’s the January blurb about AWD (emphasis mine):

Vehicle control is everything in winter driving. The beauty of all-wheel drive – available on the Buick Regal, LaCrosse, Encore and Enclave – is it automatically senses when there is a loss of traction and sends power to the wheels that need it. The driver does nothing.

However, as smart as AWD is, it’s no substitute for common sense and adhering to local snow-emergency laws. Packing an emergency kit that includes a folding shovel is recommended, too.

And the blurb for Tropical Storm Erika (emphasis mine):

Vehicle control is everything in wet conditions. The beauty of all-wheel drive – available on the Buick Regal, LaCrosse, Encore and Enclave – is it automatically senses when there is a loss of traction and sends power to the wheels that need it. The driver does nothing.

However, as smart as AWD is, it’s no substitute for common sense and adhering to local emergency laws. This includes avoiding standing water. According to the National Weather Service, two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including SUVs and pick-ups.

The bit about StabiliTrak is the same exact text for both storms, word-for-word. Apart from that, the word “hurricane” replaces “blizzard” in the sentence “The only thing worse than a ____ is being isolated in one,” and the newer release swaps out the bit about a heated steering wheel for more information on OnStar 4G LTE.

The only thing worse than slapping together a press release that is at least mildly insensitive to the very real threat of a natural disaster in the hopes of capitalizing off of some buzz is self-plagiarizing one!

Fortunately, Erika largely dissipated before reaching Florida, though the state is still at risk for “significant flooding of streets” as of Monday morning. But hey, at least if you’re driving a new Buick in Florida and you become the victim of a flood, your water-damaged car will be worth at least a bit more than others because of all those fancy features.

You’re doing god’s work, Buick.

  • Kyle JohnsonEditor

    Kyle S. Johnson lives in Cincinnati, a city known by many as "the Cincinnati of Southwest Ohio." He enjoys professional wrestling, Halloween, and also other things. He has been writing for a while, and he plans to continue to write well into the future. See more articles by Kyle.