Instant-Win Airbags

DETROIT–With third-quarter sales sluggish and its share of the domestic
market down 11 percent since 1993, General Motors unveiled a new instant-win
airbag contest Monday. The new airbags, which award fabulous prizes upon
violent, high-speed impact with another car or stationary object, will come
standard in all of the company’s 1997 cars.

“Auto accidents have never been so exciting,” said GM vice-president of
marketing Roger Jenkins, who expects the contest to boost 1997 sales
significantly. “When you play the new GM Instant Win Airbag Game, your next
fatal collision could mean a trip for two to Super Bowl XXXI in New Orleans. Or
a year’s worth of free Mobil gasoline.”

Though it does not officially begin until Jan. 1, 1997, the airbag
promotion is already being tested in select cities, with feedback overwhelmingly
positive. “As soon as my car started to skid out of control, I thought to
myself, ‘Oh, boy, this could be it–I could be a big winner!'” said Cincinnati’s
Martin Frelks, who lost his wife but won $50 Sunday when the Buick LeSabre they
were driving hit an oil slick at 60 mph and slammed into an oncoming truck.
“When the car stopped rolling down the embankment, I knew Ellen was dead, but
all I could think about was getting the blood and glass out of my eyes so I
could read that airbag!”

Hartford, CT, resident Jonathan Ryerson was killed Sunday when his 1997
Pontiac LeMans hit a freight train. Ryerson won $50 in the accident. “It’s
really addictive,” said Sacramento, CA, resident Marjorie Kamp, speaking from
her hospital bed, where she is listed in critical condition with severe brain
hemorrhaging and a punctured right lung. “I’ve already crashed four cars trying
to win those Super Bowl tickets, but I still haven’t won. I swear, I’m going to
win those tickets–even if it kills me!”

Kamp said that as soon as she is well enough, she plans to buy a new
Pontiac Bonneville and drive it into a tree. GM officials are not surprised the
airbag contest has been so well received. “In the past, nobody really liked car
wrecks, and that’s understandable. After all, they’re scary and dangerous and,
sometimes, even fatal,” GM CEO Paul Offerman said. “But now, when you drive a
new GM car or truck, your next serious crash could mean serious cash. Who
wouldn’t like that?”

Offerman added that in the event a motorist wins a prize but is killed,
that prize will be awarded to the next of kin. According to GM’s official
contest rules, odds of winning the grand prize, a brand-new 1997 Cutlass
Supreme, are 1 in 43,000,000. Statistical experts, however, say the real chances
of winning are significantly worse. “If you factor in the odds of getting in a
serious car accident in the first place–approximately 1 in 720,000–the actual
odds of winning a prize each time you step in your car are more like 1 in 31
trillion.” Further, even if one is in an accident, there is no guarantee the
airbag will inflate. “I was recently broadsided by a drunk driver in my new
Chevy Cavalier,” said Erie, PA, resident Jerry Polaner. “My car was totaled, and
because it was the side of my car that got hit, my airbag didn’t even inflate.
But what really gets me is the fact that the drunk driver, who rammed my side
with the front of his 1997 Buick Regal, won a $100 Office Depot gift
certificate. That’s just wrong.”