Sometimes it seems as if at least half of the commercials on television are for cars – swooshing, whizzing, and roaring through the landscapes and streets of the nation to throbbing and propulsive soundtracks. These commercials promise that by getting behind the wheel of such sleek and powerful machines, you will be able to dominate your environment, whether it’s the glittering streets of an idealized city where traffic doesn’t exist, or the hairpin turns of a road that cuts through primeval forests. It’s a seductive vision.
Now, for the first time, I’ve seen a bicycle ad that gives these car commercials a run for their money. The spot, just released by Copenhagen’s Butchers & Bicycles (located “in the heart of the meat-packing district in Copenhagen, Denmark”), employs all the traditional automotive tropes to promote the company’s new cargo bike, the MK1. Even the name has crisp edges.
A handsome, manly young man takes the bike around sharp turns, through glistening nighttime streets, across pastoral landscapes, all to music that suggests that riding this bike is cool and edgy and might help you pick up some babes.
The MK1 – with extreme tilt action that allows cornering at speed – is a far cry from the sensible cargo bikes one associates with Dutch or Danish families out for a round of errands. Those are bicycling minivans. The MK1 is more like a souped-up SUV, “giving you an uncompromising ride with safe and thrilling turns,” the ad promises, showing our hero in action on the streets of Copenhagen, interspersed with sexy shots of the bike itself that rival those in the most idealized car commercial. “How would you ride? Fast? Aggressive? Or just cruising?”
The vision of life on an MK1 is one of urbane masculine freedom in the ideal city. It’s the kind of imagery so often used to promote cars that it barely registers anymore. With a bicycle as the vehicle for sale, though, it seems downright radical.