By on November 2, 2010

Well, there’s nothing quite like being wrong, is there? Exactly a week ago I registered my (somewhat hesitant) support for Chevy’s new tagline, “Chevy Runs Deep,” and though I still believe that the tagline itself is better than anything else GM’s marketers have dreamed up in a while, I probably should have waited for the brand’s ads to come up out before weighing in. After all, any good (or good enough) idea is only as good as its execution… and these ads really don’t seem to move the game past some of Chevrolet’s previous cornball ad efforts. The main ad in the series (above) is as bland as an Impala’s interior, and does nothing to inspire respect for Chevy in contemporary (read: post-bailout) terms. Can “the strength of the nation” be found in every Chevrolet? If so, does that strength refer to something other than the government money that kept Chevrolet from the scrapheap of history? Instead of inspiring a bold approach, it seems that the “Don’t call it Chevy” moment simply pushed Chevy’s advertising back into gauzy pseudo-patriotism of its recent past. But don’t take it from me… hit the jump for a sampling of the latest Chevy Runs Deep ads.

The new ads seems to run from the vacuous…

…to the absurd…

…to the surreal. Do these guys realize that for a growing number of people, “the first Chevy” was something miserable from the company’s several-decade-long low point? More to the point, Americans are probably more likely to remember their last Chevy than their first one. Yes, loyalty is a huge part of what keeps Chevy viable, but there’s still a major disconnect between the brand’s loyalists and the sections of the market that left Chevy for Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan and Ford…. and these ads just don’t seem to bridge it.

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33 Comments on “Chevy Runs Deep. The Ads? Not So Much…...”

  • avatar

    Bring back the “Like a Rock” campaign. IMHO, it perfectly depicted what Chevy (sorry,Chevrolet) needs to be, a strong, tough, permanent part of Americas auto industry. Instead we get taglines that read like punch lines to a dirty joke.

  • avatar

    Agreed. I wasn’t even around during the period Chevy seems to be pining for. The last chevy I remember our family owning was a chevy celebrity station wagon that was uncomfortable as hell and died after about 80k miles. It’s only in very recent years that I’ve considered that my next car could possibly be a malibu or now a Cruze.

  • avatar

    So, what’s your complaint? I found the ads pleasant enough, not annoying (which is usually a bigger deal with me than worry about how brilliant they are), and is a nice play on their heritage . . . . which, contrary to a few opinions around here, is a bit more than the absolutely crap cars of the ’70’s and ’80’s.

    Right now Chevy is producing worthwhile cars. The trick is getting people to chill out (regarding Government Motors), relax and go test drive one. A bit about, “we’ve been here for years, and we’re going to continue to be here” doesn’t hurt.

    Remember, Chevy’s centennial is only a couple of months away.

    • 0 avatar

      “The trick is getting people to chill out (regarding Government Motors), relax and go test drive one.”
      And these ads do nothing to approach that goal. It’s a feeble attempt to appeal to my sense of nostalgia, which as someone in his late twenties, adds up to Cavaliers and Luminas. If I wasn’t a car nut, I’d still be tainted by those unreliable, unremarkable cars – and these ads wouldn’t rectify that at all. I know their cars are getting better because I follow sites like this. In that regard I am, sadly, a minority in this country.

      If my demographic is as desirable a target for marketing as I’m led to believe, they’re doing a piss-poor job of getting our attention.

  • avatar

    Last week, after being published here and with a funny submarine in Jalopnik, I saw all of them.
    I liked the 1st Chevy one. It ends with one of my favorite Chevys: 71-72 Chevelle SS. And while I was growing up, there were: a 71 Chevelle, a 78 Malibu, 83 Malibu, 81 Caprice and 80 Caprice, 89 Century (here was a Chevy until 1992), my uncle was restoring a 72 or something Corvette convertible, and my grandma neighbors had a 73 Camaro. I haven’t bought a Chevy yet, but have had enough seat time in them.
    I didn’t get the point of the dogs & trucks one, filed under the gringada folder. The 72-88 vintage trucks are nice.
    The 1st one is pretty cool. However, after Chrysler’s “journey back” add from last year, I expected something better.

    • 0 avatar

      I live in the rural South (VA).  Dogs and trucks make perfect sense to me.  Besides, when that funny little guy for Nissan said “dogs love trucks”, everyone fell all over themselves proclaiming what a brilliant ad it was.

    • 0 avatar

      The “Dogs love Trucks” tagline also was used to market Nissans small trucks then rather than GM’s fullsize and HD trucks now. Those small Nissans were pretty fun to drive IIRC while I wouldn’t consider any GM truck this side of an SS to be any sort of fun.

  • avatar

    My first chevy was a Vega engined Monza. Yes, that piece of crap got under my skin alright. Thanks chevy for reminding me.

    • 0 avatar

      Funny. My first Chevy was a Vega engined Vega GT. Ran B-sedan autocross with it. Had a wonderful time. Even podium-ed a couple of times. Followed that up with a V-6 engined Monza 2+2. Rallyed the hell out of it. Had a wonderful time.

      Unfortunately my third Chevy, a V-6 Monza sportwagen, put me off on the brand for twenty years. Fortunately, I don’t hold permanent grudges. The Chevy I returned to (S-10) was one of the three best cars I’ve owned in forty years.

      I feel sorry for all those who insist on keeping the 70’s and 80’s cars as an ever-running open sore.

    • 0 avatar

      I feel sorry for all those who insist on keeping the 70′s and 80′s cars as an ever-running open sore.
      The point is that we’d like to get past the 70’s and 80’s cars and ads that remind people of that era aren’t in GMs best interest. While there are no cars from that era in the ad, the line “That 1st Chevy – ya, it gets under your skin” was rubbing salt into an old wound.  I didn’t want to hear that. It’s an incredibly bad line to use in an ad. It’s telling people that got their first cars from that era to forget about what Chevy is doing now and think back to that first piece of crap they sold you. Horrible incompetent marketing.

    • 0 avatar

      “I feel sorry for all those who insist on keeping the 70′s and 80′s cars as an ever-running open sore.”

      That would be the owners who were let down.  It’s how the market works and how consumers are.  You can feel sorry for them, if you like, but they’ve moved on.  Maybe they’ll be back, someday, for some reason but they have no regrets.

    • 0 avatar

      “I feel sorry for all those who insist on keeping the 70′s and 80′s cars as an ever-running open sore.”
      Recalling the domestic cars of the 70’s & 80’s with no reference to how crappy ALL of the cars were back then, is just selective memory. They all rusted and broke down at a rate far greater than any modern day car would today. My bad experiences with Hondas almost 30 years ago keeps them off my list, no matter how good people tell me they are. All cars had issues, some were better than others.
      We’ve come a long way since the 70’s. All of us have.

    • 0 avatar

      “I feel sorry for all those who insist on keeping the 70′s and 80′s cars as an ever-running open sore.”

      I would agree if it really was the 70’s and 80’s that did the damage.

      But judging by recalls, one of the most tangible yardsticks of quality, 2004 is not shaping up as a banner year for G.M. In less than four months, the company has recalled more than 7.5 million vehicles, more than it did in all of 2003.

      Then again pre-bankruptcy December, 2008

      As much as I was a loyal, dyed in wool “Buy GM!!!” fanboi for years it was pretty obvious I was fighting a loosing battle with friends and family who were fed up with getting burned by Government Motors products and had moved on. Sure, it took a couple of “chances” before I followed because well, I was a fanboi. No more.

      At the moment, I am loyal to no automaker as each one of them builds something I like, appreciate or would most definitely buy. And I no longer see a need to blindly support one company who could give a rats ass about me or my issues with their product. I also don’t care to support the UAW or president Obamas agenda for re-election.

      It is not my duty to buy a Government Motors product. So Chevy doesn’t even run as “deep” as a paper cut with this ex-GM guy.

    • 0 avatar

      The recall leader lately, even before the UA stuff, has been Toyota.  What is your point?

  • avatar

    Most car ads are completely worthless, and tell you nothing about the car.  My favorites are the ones that show the car driving through windblown leaves.

    “As long as there are babies, there will be Chevys to bring them home.” That’s true for Fords, too.
    “A dog and a Chevy; what else do you need?” The answers are countless.
    “That first Chevy; it gets under your skin.” Current Toyota/Hyundai/Ford owners would agree.

  • avatar

    I finally get what “Chevy runs deep” means, I believe. Although I feel I have not reason to start that sentence with Chevy. Toyota still runs deep with me, but BMW is now running deeper, or more significantly. I like the commercials, but its easy for me to take Chevy out the picture, and do that I’m grateful to Chevy for giving me this perspectives. I like riding with my Dog in the Montero or E34. I don’t care which car I bring my first kid home in, but a car will be part of the moment, though I don’t particularly care about that car. My first car was a used Accord, but I didn’t think about celebrating it so much, I’m glad my friends did. etc etc, Chevy just poop over America last year….Good universal messages, poor advertising.

  • avatar

    Agreed Ed, I detect wobbling on Chevy’s, excuse me, Chevrolet’s part. My first Chevy, there I go again, Chevrolet, was a ’65 Malibu which was a nice car, fond memories; many made in the late ’70’s and ’80’s in particular were not so good.

    They need to get off the past and focus on the future.

  • avatar

    Why not “You had Chevy’s back, now we’ve got yours”?

  • avatar

    I have seen more annoying ads….anyone seen the insurance ad with the Piggy screaming “Wee! Wee!”…..shut it off!

    I do like ads that tap a little of the old and new and the first one does.  My first car – a 76 El Camino with fat tires and airshocks in the rear-  was a great car.  I had a 72 Chev P/U that was good too.  My more recent experiences are what sour me, especially the impact on me and my family due to breakdowns, shoptime and cost. The new 85 Chevy Beauville van with a sliding door that never shut right and a 97 Pontiac Grand Prix with a cracked manifold at 90K, 3 window motors failed, and badly leaking, expensive headlights. I had to give that car away.

  • avatar

    Most car ads are useless anymore concerning real information. These are what I would call ‘institutional ads’ as defined back in my college days: no specific information, just ‘good vibes’, letting you know that they’re still out there. The dog ad was the worst concept, and I like dogs and pick up trucks. The others are what I’ve come to expect, but most all of the mfrs does ads like those. The real ads are the ones shown at news time, 6 & 11 PM, the ones with mileage figures and lease terms done for the particular zone the dealer is in. Those are the ones I mostly see and can relate to.
    To me the worst ads in recent memory were the ones when the new Tundra debuted. ‘Big trucks have to have big brakes’ and other nonsense like that, they showed on those ads really turned me off from the product. It looked like stunt driving gone wild. Give GM/Chevy/Ewanick credit for not airing ads like those. The most recent truck ad that I’ve seen that is reasonable, is the one where the Chevy truck is hauling a horse trailer up and down a mountain. It shows power and control, without resorting to gravelly voice-overs proclaiming how tough the truck is. Whether you could really pass a semi on a 5% uphill grade with a fully loaded horse trailer is beyond me, but at least it looks like it could be done. Without stunt drivers and mumbling almost indignant voice-overs.

    • 0 avatar

      Whether you could really pass a semi on a 5% uphill grade with a fully loaded horse trailer is beyond me, but at least it looks like it could be done.

      I don’t doubt that you could with a Duramax, especially with a few minor mods.  When my buddy and I moved a friend out to Vancouver Island from Saskatchewan, we hauled an 11,000 lb trailer with his 5.9L Cummins Dodge 3500 across the mountains and he never even needed to leave sixth gear except to pass semis.  He was at about 500 hp/1000 lb-ft with that thing.

  • avatar

    Sorry to pile onto what is already ‘running deep’ on this thread (general disapproval of these ads), but this is the fricking worst auto ad campaign in a long time…

    Being forced to use newborn babies, and cute dogs (both pretty much universally admired) to grant positive association on your product positively reeks of desperation. And the pitch for ‘my first Chevy’ uses 95% cars that are OVER 30 years old! They’re basically saying they’ve made mostly crap (deep crap) for decades, but remember waaaay back in the day (before there was ANY real foreign competition, btw), we made some cool rides…ouch, it’s borderline pathetic.

    Better they just drag out ‘baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet’ again, and run the very same commercials that aired 30+ years ago if they are looking for warm-fuzzy nostalgia.

  • avatar

    It’s good snark bait, at least.

  • avatar

    “Chevy Runs Deep… in Debt” TTAC should run a coda contest to come up with the funniest ending line for that slogan.

  • avatar

    I hate how Chevrolet does their bullshit flag waving and tries to make it sound like buying their products is somehow patriotic.  The “American Revolution” ads were the worst of this, but this doesn’t seem much different.  Who cares if Chevy has history.  History alone does not = a good reputation. 

    The sad truth is that GM finally has some products (in my entire lifetime) that I might consider, but when the Fed’s bailed out & essentially took them over I personally vowed to never own a GM product in my life (never have yet and never will).  Sorry, but this puppy should’ve gone Chapter 7 and the “good” parts could’ve been bought up by viable companies, regardless where their coporate HQ is located.  Instead we get more of the same. 

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    Just imagine a boardroom full of 20-30 marketing retards, all with their little portfolios and dressed to the hilt, discussing a PowerPoint presentation up on the wall…
    Touchy-feely female marketing specialist: “We need a campaign that will speak to the emotions of Americans…”
    Old geezer alpha male bigwig: “Well when I was a kid, Chevys were all the rage! We need to reconnect with that past history of Chevys being great cars.”
    Yuppy who drives a Honda: “How about we show cars from when Chevy made great cars and then at the end of each commercial, cut to the Volt?”
    Old geezer alpha male bigwig: “Brilliant! Because the Volt is great too, and so is Chevy!”
    (never mind that this marketing angle has been played FOR YEARS by GM)
    Touchy-feely female marketing specialist: “How about we do something with babies? Ooh I can see it now; this will be so cute!!!”
    Bunch of retards getting way overpaid.

  • avatar

    All car commercials should have cars burning rubber racing and pretty girls.  Well they should if you want me to watch them.  Other wise I get and go get a beer.

  • avatar

    My memory of Chevy runs deep–my memory of the POS vehicles from GM I had to suffer through since the 70s.


  • avatar

    I watched the first and last ads, that’s all I could stand.  The takeaway message:  “We’ve made cars for a long time, and people used to like them”.  That might be enough to keep current owners coming back, but Chevy has to do better.  I will say the last shot of the first ad, of the Camaro grill, was nicely done, and that’s coming from someone who isn’t a big Camaro fan.

    I’m assuming this campaign got the approval of GM’s old guard, it certainly looks like old GM marketing. I wonder if Ewanick has the stones to come up with a campaign outside his new bosses’ comfort zone.

  • avatar

    “Runs deep” would be a great slogan… for Electric Boat.

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