Chevrolet has been criticized for repeatedly resorting to nostalgia and patriotism to sell its cars to Americans. Even its current “Chevy Runs Deep” tagline carries with it an implicit reference to the company’s long history and role in American culture. It’s not a new phenomenon. In the 1970s, as the domestic auto industry tried to compete with the first wave of Japanese cars sold in America, jingle composer Ed Labunski and Campbell-Ewald ad writer Jim Hartzell wrote “Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet”, which provided the soundtrack to what Car and Driver called one of the two best car commercials of all time. It was a landmark advertisement that is considered to have changed not just advertising but also branding in general. Chevy even reprised the concept this past summer with a spot called “Love Affair”, that reflected changes in baseball, America and the Chevy lineup.
It seems to me that while a lot of the criticism of Chevrolet and GM advertising is valid, when you’re a company that’s 100 years old you can’t run away from your history. After all, in the minds of consumers that history, good or bad, is a part of Chevy’s brand. So Chevy can’t exactly avoid its history as America’s car brand, a position it held for much of the 20th century. As the Chevrolet centennial approaches even critics of Chevy’s nostalgically themed advertising have to allow the company a little space to celebrate its anniversary.
William C. “Billy” Durant and Louis Chevrolet founded the Chevrolet Motor Co. on November 3, 1911. With Chevy’s actual centennial only two weeks away, the other night Chevrolet introduced the commercial that will be the company’s public face running through it’s 100th birthday celebration. In the spirit of Labunski and Hartzell, Chevy launched the ad during the first night of the 2011 World Series.
The commercial is called “Then and Now” and the ad, created by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, part of the Omnicom Group, is very clever film making. It’s one of those cases of synergy, where the visual concept of the ad meshes beautifully with the messages.