April 26, 2011

Making Fun of Weathermen Reaches New Depths

Weatherfolk are often the butt of jokes and I have experienced that many times myself. How many times have I heard snide remarks about weather forecasters predicting with dice, that "meteorologists can be wrong 50% of the time and still get paid" and similar comments. You get a thick skin eventually or leave the field.

But I have to admit that many of us in the weather community are not a little upset with the latest Subaru ad campaign: "The weather doesn't matter if you have a Subaru" .

The main character of this campaign is "the world's worst weatherman." Want to see him in action? Take a look at one of their clips:

INSULTING! And worst of all, especially for me, he says he is not good with numbers and that is why he became a weatherman. You know how I feel about that! Math is critical to being a good weatherman.

But it gets worse. Here is the Subaru weatherman's take on being a storm chaser (click on image for video)

Did you notice the guy looks quite a bit like the Verizon's "do you hear me?" spokesman? As if all weathermen look like geeks with greased-back hair!

And there are other videos, including one in which the Subaru weatherman locks his keys in a running vehicle.

But there is more, much more.

They have a calculator function on the Subaru website on HOW MUCH TIME YOU HAVE WASTED THINKING ABOUT THE WEATHER. Can you imagine that? Thinking about the weather is NEVER a waste.

Lets say you are 40 years old and spend 3 hours a day thinking about the weather. That is not much. Hell, I spend at least 10 hrs a day thinking about weather, sometimes more. OK, assuming 3 hrs a day and forty years old, their calculator tells you that you have WASTED over three years. Outrageous.

I was so incensed that I called University Subaru to complain. The sales manager listened to me patiently and told me I was completely wrong. " Subaru actually loves weathermen" he said and particularly the ones that exaggerated snowstorms and bad weather. He explained that since most Subarus had all-wheel drive, sales surged as conditions got bad. I asked him who his favorite weather person was and he immediately answered Jim Forman of King TV. I had to stop myself from saying anything more.

I am in the market for a new car, looking to replace my trusty 19 year old Ford Taurus, and I was going to consider Subaru products. No way now. I am going to boycott them until they become more weatherman friendly. And so should you.


  1. I dunno, Cliff...

    Just think of the ad campaign they could run if you bought one:

    "Seattle's favorite weather guru drives a Subaru"

    Maybe they would give you a substantial discount!
    (It's worth a shot.)

  2. That's pretty damn insulting and insensitive, I agree.

    I have an idea.

    Give up four wheels altogether.

    I know you ride a bicycle; that's a great place to start. If you need to go farther or faster, you can make your two wheels powered, or if you *really* need four wheels for a few hours or a day, you can nab a Zipcar on campus.

    You will save a TON of money on gas, insurance (even full-ride motorcycle insurance is a pittance compared to cars), and the vehicles are far cheaper, too.

    AND. You will be more aware of the weather, and all of nature around you. You can be first on the ferry, park in creative spots... and it's relaxing.

    Just a thought.

    (If you do decide to go two-wheels-powered, take a safety course! It'll make you a far better rider - well worth the bucks.)

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  4. It should console you that if the mean and the median are close, then half the people are dumber than average. That means that with 6.75 billion people on the planet there are probably more than 3 BILLION people who will like these ads, the dumber half of course, but they still buy cars...

  5. "Never assume malice when it can be can be explained by stupidity" - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanlon's_razor

    Follow up on Snapdragon's suggestion. Our Forester has been sterling during the winter in the NE and on the Olympic Peninsula.

  6. Straight from the "What are the odds?" section of Subaru's "Worst Weatherman" page:

    "Where you are standing right now, the odds of...

    Hail occurring -- 1 in 43

    A thunderstorm occurring -- 1 in 126"

    Worst weatherman indeed...

  7. Ah, stereotypes abound. Not all weatherman are nerds with slicked-back hair, yeah, but not all Subaru drivers are yuppies. Some of us are just moms with young kids and ageing parents who need to be able to get around in the area when it snows despite best intentions to stay off the streets when they are a mess and insane drivers abound, and so bought ourselves extremely used Subarus to be able to handle our local unplowed, icy roads.

  8. Folks,
    I got a quite a few comments (which I did not publish) from people who thought my blog was completely serious and that I would never buy a Suburu. Some went on in depth telling how much they like Subaru's etc. I am having fun with this blog...I would have no problem buying a Subaru. Some of my best friends drive Subarus....cliff

  9. May I suggest a MINI Cooper? They have front wheel drive, great on snow, gas sipping and fun to drive! I just got my mine and I am having a blast!!

  10. Welcome to the "professionals made fun of" club. As a dentist, I have a slight smile and at the same time a slight cringe when I see similar fun made of my profession. Weathermen(women)and dentists are easy targets. This dentist thinks life would be quite dull without weather. :-)

  11. Be strong, and realize that most people don't even know what probability is, don't know that the world is a flattened sphere, don't know that Columbus didn't 'discover' America, and don't know that the Romans killed Josh of Nazareth (yeh, the same people who later started the big religious franchise).
    And all of these people get the same 1 vote you do. Sad.

  12. INORITE?! And not all programmers (my profession) are socially inept. Why, I know to leave my pocket protector at home for evening wear. :-) Keep up the good work. I love your column, and I stick up for the poor weatherman whenever a friend says something snide.

  13. What do you think about the movie "L.A. Story", with Steve Martin playing a weatherman?

  14. Awesome! Cliff, I'm sure you'd love those commercials if Mr. Foreman was in the leading role. Just imagine that dorky weather guy with a yellow parka! Hilarious!

  15. Remember "Joe Isuzu" from that car company's TV ads in the 1980s? The actor playing Joe was pictured as the stereotypical sleazy car salesman with goofy clothes, a smile that would curl your toes and the mannerism of a poisonous snake. Just like all people who sell cars, right?

    Isuzu dealers everywhere HATED the campaign and said so to Isuzu management. But lo and behold, Isuzu sales went through the roof with that campaign. Until, that is, buyers started to find out just how crappy the products were.

    Well, I don't suppose this has anything to do with stereotyping meteorologists and your angst is certainly justified, Cliff. And certainly your "product" is anything but crappy. I don't have a moral to this story. Just hope you don't "waste three hours"

  16. But Cliff you make fun of bad weathermen all the time! Go get that shiney new Subey already, you'll be glad you did! I am in no way affiliated nor do I benefit from this, just a customer/user: if you are looking for a Subaru you gotta look at cars101.com it's a local dealership's Internet sales manager's site. It was a huge help when buying Subarus for my Mom and Grandmother.

  17. Geez... well, if you weren't making up those Subaru ads, I'm very disappointed in Subaru, Cliff. As a lifelong Subaru owner, I would reconsider buying another one. And as a teacher, I'm quite familiar with the "not everybody passed the test, but the teacher still got paid" attitude. No more Subarus for me; my next car will hopefully be electric, if someone comes up with one that meets my mileage and storage needs.

  18. I feel your pain... but perhaps you should just take this as a call to do away with the "weathermen" who simply read the teleprompter, as opposed to actual meteorologists,who convey their fascination with natural phenomena.
    I guess it's aimed at the people who call to complain if the "weatherman MADE it snow/not snow". Just think, it could be worse... you could've been a lawyer! ;)

  19. It's just a commercial, Cliff. No harm, no foul.

    You think weathermen have it bad? I'm an umpire - now THERE's a vocation that has no end of jokes. Here's an insider secret: Neither me, nor any of my peers, is actually blind!

  20. You resent being insulted for your profession? You ain't got nothin' to complain about -- try being a lawyer!

  21. A good counter to their ads would be, "How much time have you spent filling your Subaru with oil? Or pressure-washing your driveway?" They are famously leaky, especially the older models that came with a burning-oil smell standard!

  22. I'm a pilot, sailor and backyard astronomer. I think about weather all the time also, but I drive a Ford!
    ...but I do get my best weather information from Cliff Mass and Scott Sistek. ;-)


  23. those ads are fantastic. brought a smile to my face. love the guy's suit. thanks for sharing them, cliff. good laugh!

  24. Christopher- Lawyer? That ain't nothing. Try politics :)

  25. I'm glad you clarified that your post was satire, Cliff, because I didn't get it at first and was pretty confused! I wasn't going to go on a pro-Subaru rant on you (I've never driven a Subaru) but I *was* going to say there are a lot more important things to be upset about than silly weathermen stereotypes in Subaru commercials!

    Love your blog. You are awesome.

  26. Cliff - It's snowing at 800ft on Cougar Mountain in Bellevue 5:27PM 4/27/2011.

    I need to ride my motorcycle. Can you order up some 70deg and clear?

  27. I'm a merchant seaman, and my life depends upon good weather forecasts. The ocean is a cruel mistress. 'Nuff said!

  28. Confirming Seattlites have no sense of humor! I thought you were being really funny...what is NOT funny is this darn weather. Not funny at all...snow? I mean really.

  29. I appreciate that my Subaru came with a weather radio, which is the main source of weather updates I use while on the road. Ditched the tv a long time ago (no commercials, and no weathermen !)

  30. Cliff,

    Do not let that get you down. Forecasting has improved greatly and will continue to improve. Seattle area is tough. You know the reasons better than I. You men and women do GREAT!

    Consider the new Fiat 500. There is a new dealer in Kirkland. I have had Fiats since 1973. Great cars. My 1984 Spider has 204,000 miles on it. It has seen 109 degrees and drives well in a foot of snow!

  31. I thought Cliff was a climatologist, not a meteorologist (weatherman). I am not sure why he is getting bent out of shape over this. I understand that he does short-term forecasts, but he isn't a typical TV weatherman.

    Remember the big fuss when meteorologists were surveyed and a large percentage doubted global warming and the difference between weather and climate needed to be explained?

    I have travelled enough and watched enough small market weathermen that I have seen most of the stereotypes portrayed on the Subaru commercials in real life.

    Maybe, after seeing people in my profession (software engineering) inaccurately portrayed, I have even thicker skin than Cliff.

  32. But really Cliff, geeks are IN.
    Been driving my 22-year-old Toyota 4x4 pickup since the day it was new. About 215,000 miles on it and still going strong.

  33. "I am going to boycott them until they become more weatherman friendly. And so should you. "

    I **completely** agree! After all, Math is hard! -Barbie

  34. Hello Cliff
    with the dreary weather that we have had to endure the last few months we need something to chuckle about

  35. As a used car dealership, we see Subaru as some of the most unreliable yet EXTREMELY popular Japanese car ever made. Headgasket issues, transmission problems, coupled with timing belts and AWD upkeep, and horrible gas mileage, yet people will still buy them like 10 cent donuts.

    I admire their AWD capability, having owned the older (better) true 4x4 legacy's, but with an average of most 2000-2003 Subaru EJ25's netting 19 mpg city in the 8 months we don't have snow, isn't very green.

  36. Hi, Cliff --

    It shouldn't be too hard to find a photo of a Subaru that's been flipped over by a tornado. Maybe that'll shut 'em up?

  37. We saw the pictures of your evil weather manipulating machine and the elaborate ducts pumping out clouds. This "dumb weatherman" ploy is just a foil to hide your deep conspiracy. You should be glad that Subaru is playing along... ;-)

  38. What is this world coming to? An Ivory Tower guy dissing Subaru?

    You realize that all over Puget Sound, and as far South as Western Oregon, the cries of angst can be heard above the drumming on roofs of the not-yet Spring rains.

    Why, if it weren't for Subarus, not very many NW people could CLAIM to be off-road capable. BTW, a Subaru won't do a bit better off-road than my 1970 VW Beetle will.

    It must have been a slow day in their ad dept.

    BTW this chap keeps up with Subaru ads:


    ...and I note from there that you can comment at subaru.com/dearsubaru

  39. Subarus are so-so cars. Their drivers, however, tend to be obnoxious boobs. Have you seen the bumper stickers that always seem to grace their posteriors? 'Nuff said!

  40. yeah, some weathermen have crazy curly hair!

    most popular is probably the straight blond haired beauties.


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