Chevy Doubles Down On 'Family' As CMO Takes 'Welcoming' Tack

Feb 23 2014, 11:18am CST | by

Chevy Doubles Down On 'Family' As CMO Takes 'Welcoming' Tack
Photo Credit: Forbes Auto

Chevrolet’s high-impact “The New Love” TV ad early in the Sochi Olympics actually turned out to be somewhat of a teaser for an even bolder commercial that the brand began airing later during the two weeks of the games on NBC: an ad titled “The New Us.”

For while the first spot clearly aligned Chevy with LGBT sympathies by including a few seconds of a gay wedding along with other depictions of families, the brand doubled down in “The New Us” with its upbeat looks at a variety of families — a definite number of whom, we are led to infer, are anchored by gay and lesbian parents.

Chevrolet CMO Tim Mahoney told me that the brand has gotten “overwhelmingly positive” feedback to the remarkable stand it took with the first ad. “The New Love” ad quickly garnered more than two million views on YouTube in addition to its high-profile exposure on TV early during the Olympics.

However, in addition to expressions of support for Chevy’s stand on LGBT relationships against the backdrop of Russia’s hostile political culture, American social media also lit up with objections to Chevrolet’s bold pivot into the thick of this issue, with complaints from many General Motors employees and retirees, rank-and-file Chevy customers and social conservatives.

But Mahoney was unbowed. “The idea behind it is that we’re a new Chevrolet and a new world and we’re a brand that is about inclusion and not division,” he said. “It’s welcoming all people to the Chevrolet brand from an authentic perspective, in that spot. All the family units in that spot were real families … not hired actors.”

In “The New Us,” the second spot, Chevy added to its own redefinition of “family” by providing quick snippets of a handful of families that imply gay or lesbian parentage. Maybe it’s just a bunch of aunts and uncles and grandparents that Chevrolet is depicting in the various family units in the ad, but that interpretation isn’t likely because of what the ad says and because of how the brand already “came out” on the issue of LGBT marriage.

The text of the ad makes it clear what the imagery is implying.

They are the ones we trust with our most secret secrets, who are always there when we need them, John Cusack’s voiceover begins the 30-second spot.

They are family. And while what it means to be a family hasn’t changed, what a family looks like …. has. This is the new us.

The ad concludes by finally showing the Chevrolet Traverse and mentioning its safety attributes — meant to protect, as Cusack says, Whatever shape your family takes.

Meanwhile, if Cheerios recently drew kudos for the definably multiracial family depicted in its new ads, including a Super Bowl spot, in “The New Us” Chevrolet also goes the iconic General Mills brand one better in staking out its own attitude. Many families depicted in the Chevy commercial could be perceived as ethnically and racially vague.

About a year into his tenure as Chevrolet’s global CMO, Mahoney has meant to shake up traditional perceptions of what Chevrolet is and stands for, and to put some teeth into its new tagline, “Find New Roads.” With these two ads alone, he certainly has accomplished that.

Source: Forbes Auto

 
 

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