On the Lighter Side: Range Rover ad raises Forest Service hackles

From the Washington Post today….

Pike’s pique: A Range Rover TV ad raises some Forest Service hackles

By , Published: October 9 E-mail the writer

We’ve all seen the warnings that accompany those daredevil car ads admonishing us not to try such feats ourselves or warning us that they’re being pulled off by a “professional driver on a closed course.”

Despite the warnings, they still make some stunts look pretty cool. Some folks, it seems, have a problem with a new TV commercial that they say promotes off-roading on federal lands, which is a distinct no-no.

A new ad for the 2014 Range Rover Sport shows the rugged-yet-luxurious SUV scaling the snow-crusted Pike’s Peak, which is part of the National Forest system. Up the paved roads of the mountain the truck goes. And then — as a group of impressed guys who look like a pit crew, wearing matching Range Rover jackets and hats, look on — the vehicle appears to go over the top and down the other, unpaved side.

“It clearly goes against the basic philosophy of ethical attitudes and proper driver behavior for using OHV’s [off-highway vehicles] anywhere, let alone on NFS lands,” Jack Gregory, a retired Forest Service officer, wrote to the Forest Service. (Jeff Ruch, the head of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, shared the missive with us.)

Forest Service spokesman Leo Kay, one of the few employees of the agency still in the office during the government shutdown, tells the Loop that the car did not actually go off-road on Forest Service land during filming, though it appeared to through the wonders of modern film-making.

And he says he’s unsure of the precise wording of the permit that the car company got to film the commercial there. The folks who handle those are furloughed.

“It’s kind of a ghost town around here,” he says.

But precedent exists for curtailing how film crews portray public land. When the Forest Service issues permits for crews to film in wilderness areas, for example, the agency requires them to “keep within the spirit” of the 1964 Wilderness Act, Kay explains. That might mean that they wouldn’t be allowed to depict, say, littering or tossing lit matches around.

The Forest Service isn’t up in arms over the commercial. It’s not protesting the way the National Park Service did in 2003, when a Metamucil commercial depicted a Park Service Ranger pouring some of the regularity-inducing product into Yellowstone’s Old Faithful geyser.

“This advertisement goes against all of the National Park Service’s efforts to encourage people not to put foreign objects into the thermal features,” NPS sniffed at the time.

In a statement, Range Rover tells the Loop that viewers needn’t take what they see so literally. “As is typical in much of advertising, there are scenes that are realistic but not meant to be taken literally, including both racing up the mountain, as well as driving off road back down, though the vehicle is more than capable of both.”

5 thoughts on “On the Lighter Side: Range Rover ad raises Forest Service hackles”

  1. There was also an instance of a mountain bike company wanting to have an ad with their bike on top of Mount Lassen. They were granted a permit, as long as no one was riding the bike up, or down the trail. So, they walked the bike up there, got their shots, then walked back down. One COULD say that goes against how National Park land policies are “portrayed”. As we all know, there is a radical element among mountain bikers, who seek to gain access to Wilderness Areas. We’ve also seen them constructing “bike parks” in National Forests, without permits.

  2. Purely on the basis of potential soil erosion, I am against any off road vehicles in public places. The whole mentality seems to be how can we leave our mark by what we tear up.

  3. here in North Idaho, it’s kind of a “redneck badge of courage” to drive your jacked-up 4×4 around town 100% caked in mud except for a tiny swatch of clear windshield. Can’t seem to get through to those folks that the mud they’re parading around with used to be soil, and soil is out there for a reason. Slobs.


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