By on June 6, 2017

2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD, Image: General Motors

Like a rolling stone. Like a rock. Like a G6 (not the Pontiac version). There are many descriptors out there, but GMC feels nothing fits its owners quite like “pro.” The trucks are still Professional Grade (TM), but advertisements are supposed to be all about us, about we, about me.

And so, GMC plans to embark on an advertising campaign calling its owners just that. The all-utility brand’s “Like A Pro” campaign kicks off this month, with a number of tailored TV and online spots showcasing “those who reach higher in everything they do,” according to the automaker.

Marketing efforts are fraught with peril, so no ad counts as a slam dunk until the public gives it a resounding thumbs up or, alternatively, mocks it out of existence. Let’s take a closer look at one of these spots.

“Our owners are dedicated individuals, respected by their peers, whose passion and abilities set them apart,” said Rich Latek, GMC marketing director, in a statement. “Their values reflect our ‘Professional Grade’ spirit and we look forward to bringing that emotional connection to life. And we’re excited to show how we think our customers live their lives like pros.”

“Pro.” Like “boss,” but without the corporate overtones. Who are these people not living their lives like a pro? According to the commercials, they’re normal people who’ll marry your daughter and buy her a crossover, but lack a certain panache.

“How do you want to live?” asks the new commercial for the GMC Sierra. “As a decent person? Not a bad guy? A good friend? Is that it — good? Of course not. King of the hill? Better. Top of your game? Win. All-powerful, like a boss, like a standard bearer, like a pro. We couldn’t agree more. We are Professional Grade. GMC.”

The imagery features a Sierra plying the roadways of what appears to be the West Coast, set against flashes of what the automaker purports to be talking about. A child cuddling a dog. A glasses-wearing man who screams architect (but could just be a lowly — and lonely — programmer) staring out a rain-soaked window. A man standing on a foggy, rugged shoreline, looking out to sea. These are the reliable but lackluster people GMC wants to see driving something else.

As the commercial switches its attention to the “pro” camp, we see a man running through a forest (is he escaping something or pursuing a goal? Both?), another man being approached by a woman on a rooftop patio (she seems magnetically drawn to this tall, dark man — did she see what he drove up in?), and what looks like a high-powered executive gazing upon the proletariat class through his glass office wall, high above the teeming masses. He went somewhere with his life, dammit.

There’s also an older man cradling what must be a blanket-wrapped baby, implying that procreation remains a key part of asserting your dominance.

What’s the verdict here? Well, it’s pretty innocuous and distinctively non-controversial. It’s safe to say GM learned its lesson from the 2014 Cadillac ELR commercial. But is it too innocuous? Will it inspire passion? Inner drive? Pride of ownership? Most people like to think of themselves as a decent person, so GMC risks turning off the less ambitious among us.

Try harder? Screw you, they might say, hurling a turkey breast sandwich made with 12-grain bread at the TV screen.

To this writer, the new campaign scores a big blah on the stimulate-o-meter. Which isn’t to say it won’t have the desired effect. Hey, Chevrolet’s sticking with those “Real People, Not Actors” ads, even after several years and widespread mockery. Someone’s listening.

[Image: General Motors]

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30 Comments on “GMC’s New Ad Campaign Isn’t ‘Like a Rock’ — It’s Like a Pro...”


  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    That’s a lot of praise for a customer base overwhelmingly located in a country where:
    -70% of people are overweight and half of those people are obese
    -60% don’t have enough cash on hand to cover a $500 emergency expense with credit, charity, or cutting somewhere else

    I don’t think there are as many of these respected highly-able standard bearers as this ad supposes there are; and I doubt many of them drive GMCs.

    I generally think of GMC owners as people who are easily fooled and don’t know they could pay a bit less for a Chevy. There are exceptions, but most of the GMC guys I know persist in the delusion that there are significant functional differences between the two brands.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Would say that GMC is pretty popular in affluent suburbia – see plenty of Yukon XL Denalis.

      Gather the popularity is due to the Yukon being not as “bling-y” as the Escalade (esp. the previous gen Escalade; the current one is more elegant looking and has been making inroads).

      A Suburban just wouldn’t be acceptable when it comes to interior comforts.

  • avatar
    xflowgolf

    Like a boss could have featured Debra’s desk though.

  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    Different strokes for different folks, I guess. I once got a rental truck (last thing they had left at the agency connected to the dealer I went to to get my car serviced) and HAD to get somewhere that day (appt. with govt. agency). Trying to park a huge thing downtown San Franciso was insane. And cost almost double compared to a regular car for the parking spot. I felt lucky I only had to walk a few blocks.

    That second commercial, with the son imitating the dad – there seems to be ZERO justification for that dad driving a truck – just “because we live in a McMansion, we should have a BIG vehicle” – might as well get a Hummer – then it’s obvious it’s a “because I can” vehicle..

    The old “like a rock” commercials at least showed trucks slogging through mud [edit: with lots of equipment on them]- THAT’S an appropriate commercial. If you work construction, you [edit: quite possibly] need a truck, etc.. If you haul a huge trailer/boat, a truck is a good choice.

    This “a 10 mpg pickup truck for a daily driver to work is a sign that you’ve made it” meme is the opposite of “we’re upset that Trump pulled out of Paris”. A minivan would actually be MUCH more practical for this family – power sliding doors, power rear door, etc.. 25+ mpg, almost 300 hp. Probably drives better/faster/smoother too – AND can hold more than many pickups + has a roof. Can tow smaller things too. Unless you need to haul a LOT of junk, or tow a HUGE thing, buying a truck as an everyday vehicle is showing off how much of a dumb-ass you are, not how much of a boss/professional grade you are.. (anecdote: was hauling 4x8s from Home Depot in my Grand Caravan where they load 100% inside the vehicle and the door closes, when a gentleman came to help me load up and said: “Wow, my truck can’t even hold one of those!”). If GM were still selling Hummers, they’d fit this theme of “drive a big vehicle you don’t need” much better, IMHO.

    Ok, I’ll get back on my Prozac now..

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Yes let’s ask the B&B who:

    A) Roasted GM for “find new roads”

    B) Praise TM for “let’s go places”

    So to summarize, clearly it sucks because GM, Mary, Melody, something, something.

    Where’s the popcorn.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    “Like A Pro”

    Let go of my ears, I know what I’m doing.

    (Seen on a T-shirt at a biker bar)

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    Never mind this. I want to know which automaker will be the first to use ‘Like a Virgin’?

  • avatar
    jack4x

    Pros want a 3/4 ton Yukon XL again. Preferably with a 6.0 replacement based on the Gen V family and/or a Duramax.

    Well, at least I want that….

  • avatar
    punkybrewstershubby aka Troy D.

    Like a Pro… they still haven’t lined up the drivers seat, IP and steering wheel together… Like a Pro.

  • avatar
    Rick T.

    Just about the time GM was telling me the Silverado was just getting broken in at 100,000 miles mine was blowing the head gasket and ruining the engine at 96,0000 miles. Good times.

  • avatar
    analoggrotto

    Advertising reflecting an era of “dad-bods”, “mommy jeans”, and their app obsessed hipster progeny.

    I want a “professional grade” clutch.

    • 0 avatar
      Maksym

      We have two parallels here. The pov on the commercials and my desire to also have professional grade parts in my truck.

      I want a professional grade transmission.

      I also want a professional grade transfer case.

      Or professional grade door seals.

      Or professional grade heated seats that don’t stop working after a year.

      Or a professional grade A/C Pressure Switch.

      Or professional grade paint that doesn’t peel like a sunburn despite being meticulously maintained.

      Or professional grade brakes where the emergency brake doesn’t permanently deploy for no reason.

      Professional grade? Give me a break. I wish a SINGLE “pro” looked my truck over before it left the plant.

      At least I’m smart enough to never buy new and I will not be purchasing a GMC again. This might be my least favorite vehicle I’ve ever owned and I’ve been unlucky enough to own both an N-Body Malibu and a Gen 3 Cavalier.

      • 0 avatar
        analoggrotto

        Well put Maksym. Upgraded componentry worthy of an upcharge. The Mary Barra Motor Works’ board would love that idea, just so easy to implement!

        But how could they offer a “professional grade” clutch ? For the headlining Sierra: they offer nothing with even a “non pro” GM parts bin clutch with an adjoining manual trans. :(

        Hello Tacoma T|X PRO.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Needs a much larger front end, more faux-chrome, triangular wheel wells, and it wouldn’t hurt if they made it bigger overall (in addition to front end), also.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Meh, my biggest problem (and I’ll be the first to admit that looks are completely subjective to the beholder of the eye)…is that the truck looks to much “like a cartoon” to me than it does “like a pro.”

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Not all that long ago the GMC picture above (and the new F250/350 AND the upper trim all caps, can be seen from miles away RAM) would be considered cartoonish parodies of a truck.

      Now they are our current reality.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    You’re a pro man. Live in this moment. You bought a truck you have no use for and will panic to dump it when fuel shoots up. Ya, you be you. You’re a pro!

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    “We are Professional Grade”

    Gag me.

    How many professionals (people that require the capabilities of a truck daily) drive GMC vs Chevy?

    What more to GMC is there besides image? What function does it perform to justify the premium over the already massively overdone, American-sized Chevys?

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      There are a certain group of buyers who want “creature comforts” to go with their utility.

      It’s not just getting a GMC over the Chevy equivalent, but opting for the Denali trim (the % of Denali sales has risen and continues to climb).

      Basically the same kind of reason why Mercedes AMG sales have been going up and up – most buyers would never come close to driving their AMGs to the limits with some getting the “lite” version primarily for the cosmetic changes (and the AMG badge).

  • avatar
    RobbieAZ

    This ad seems about as stupid and nonsensical as all the rest of them.

  • avatar
    kefkafloyd

    I mean, “Like A Rock” was for Chevy trucks, not GMC. Yes, yes, same platform, but the distinction is there. I don’t think you’ll find any GMC commercials using Like a Rock.

    They’ve been using Eminence Front for a while now, which I think is delightfully funny for GMC, which are basically Chevy trucks in a disguise. It’s a put-on…

  • avatar
    analoggrotto

    In school we used to sing that “Like a Rock” song but replaced “Rock” with “Dick”.

  • avatar
    scuzimi

    Did they rob the custom parts bin at PepBoys? What a gawdawful mess!

  • avatar
    stuki

    If nothing else, at least it sounds better than the more realistic: “Like a debt slave!”

  • avatar
    la834

    The second GMC advert that plays after this one on Youtube is set to a song called “Me and You”. They do know it’s from an album called “I Eat Kids”, right?

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    So, they swapped one lame ass ad campaign for another one? Just slap more cash on the hood.

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