Chevy Silverado pick-up trucks must be very hard to sell. Otherwise, General Motors would not have its ad agency make such a controversial commercial. Scott G confesses to enjoying the music in the spot while wincing at the visuals.

First of all, I don’t drive a truck. I own a Ford Focus and a Toyota Camry. So I’m not really the intended audience for Campbell-Ewald’s latest commercial for General Motors’ Chevrolet division and one of their road menaces, the Silverado.

Yet GM advertises their hulking products to me anyway. I’ve seen the spot eight times in the past two weeks, which lets me know they’re really really really desperate and I’ve had the TV on too much in my studio lately.

Actually, my TV viewing is probably about the same as always; it’s just that this spot uses a John Mellencamp song, “Our Country,” that’s pretty nifty, and I look up from whatever I’m doing when I hear it.

It’s a fine song, a beautiful reworking of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” (which I assume is either in the public domain or the Guthrie estate shares in the royalties).

But the images of the commercial cause people like me to write commentary speculating on the motives, shamelessness, brilliance and/or stupidity of the people behind the spot.

So, who and what appear in the commercial? Rosa Parks. Martin Luther King. The pillars of light at the site of the World Trade Center. Vietnam War soldiers. Peace marchers during the 1960s. Images of Bushville (New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina).

None of that imagery should appear in a commercial context for any product that wants to maintain any semblance of tact, decency or good taste.

Richard Nixon is in the spot as well, which is like showing a gangrene leg in an ad for chicken wings. You’ll also see racing footage of Dale Earnhardt’s stock car prior to his fatal crash. Which is problematic in an automotive ad, I would think.

In addition, the commercial contains images that are commercially viable, including Muhammad Ali, Mellencamp with acoustic guitar, Woodstock-era dancers, East Coast fishermen, West Coast brush fires (WTF?), posed photos of “firefighters,” homes being built, beat-up old Chevy trucks, a fake wheat field, and kids dressed up to look like the Marlboro Man.

The music pulls you in while the visuals push you away. Here’s how one of the ad agency execs explains it: “These are the bruises and scars that have shaped our nation and we have rebuilt ourselves spiritually, emotionally and physically.”

Yeah, right. The commercial might just as well be saying, “The country is split apart, hatred rules the airwaves, and the Bush regime still hasn’t figured out how to stop hemorrhaging money overseas and fix the problems they caused in New Orleans, so go buy a truck.”

No Go
The spot is a beautiful mess. You know what? It’s not a commercial message. This is a nice music video. Too bad they trucked it up with those ugly Silverados.

[tags]G-Man, Scott G, Communication Nation, advertising, General Motors, Chevy Silverado, John Mellencamp, ad agency, marketing, ad rants[/tags]