7 October 2002
General Motors hasn't had any problem moving Chevy trucks lately, and I'm inclined to believe it's because they knew how to sell them. A pickup, even if it's driven by your Aunt Hilda, is still a big ol' bruiser, and advertising for trucks reflects the long-standing American desire for Industrial Strength stuff at home. (Sister GMC's "We Are Professional Grade" nattering is slightly sniffier, but ultimately just as elemental.)
What the General wasn't doing all that well was selling Chevy cars, sales of which have been sinking, well, like a rock. Really, what's the last Chevrolet ad campaign you remember? If you, like me, have to go all the way back to Dinah Shore, the problem becomes obvious: Chevy is simply off most buyers' radar.
Until, perhaps, now. This year the bow-tie boys took a tiny step away from the blandness of "We'll Be There"; Campbell-Ewald, Chevy's ad agency, figured out that scores of popular songs over the years had mentioned Chevrolet and its cars, and decided to run with the idea. The first installment was a shot of a little red Corvette, complete with the appropriate lyric fragment courtesy of The Artist Usually Known As Prince. A verse from AC/DC's "That's The Way I Wanna Rock And Roll" accompanies a new Monte Carlo coupe; a '63 Impala evokes the Beach Boys' "409".
The big question, of course: will these rockin' ads strike a chord with buyers? I think they will; even if you're not considering a Chevy, you'll certainly think about Chevy. And two years ago, the precursor of this campaign, a billboard in Chevrolet's home town of Warren, Michigan, placed just in time for the Woodward Dream Cruise, said succinctly: "They don't write songs about Volvos."
Now to see if Ford fires back with some Mustang sallies.