These new commercials—set in a dystopian, Max Headroom-ish near future—are comic and cynical and just plain brilliant. First, there’s the kid who becomes most popular in the class by bringing a snowball into show and tell. The snowball is an exotic, magical specimen, because everyone’s parents drive hummers, and the children have no firsthand knowledge of winter or this once common substance.
The next spot (clip above) is called “Submarine,” and it features a young Mac user who customized his H3 to swim underwater. It’s an adaptation clearly designed to cope with the rising sea levels caused by melting polar ice caps. He drives off a pier into the sea; for all we know, that pier is in Nevada.
The message is simple: the environment may collapse, but Hummer drivers will triumph. Last summer’s Tofu commercial got publicity enough (its imagined confluence of vegan and Hummer driver is prima facie an absurdist null set), but that earlier campaign traded on parodying outmoded gender insecurities. There is no self-scrutiny in these new ads. Here the Hummer driver is superman; where a weaker car driver might fret or apologize, the Hummer driver just takes it off road.
One of the all-time great Internet memes is the rude gesture to the Hummer driver. This campaign, perhaps, is its subtle return gesture.