Posted by: David Kiley on October 2, 2006
When I heard that Chevrolet turned away from Bob Seger and its ‘Like A Rock” anthem in favor of John Cougar Mellencamp to launch the new Silverado pickup, I was aghast.
Not only have I been a big fan of the Seger “Rock” campaign, but I was thinking…”Isn’t Mellencamp beyond over with?”
Add to that the ham-fisted theme that goes with the Silverado effort…”Our Country. Our Truck,” and this looks just plain bad. Why doesn’t Chevy just go with the slogan…”Stay The Course.”
I can’t help think that this new pitch line for Silverado is an answer to Toyota’s new Tundra and Toyota’s recent efforts to remind people how much they build in the U.S., how many people they employ, etc. Ugh…what a terrible way to pitch a new truck.
So, back to Mellencamp. I can always tell when the choice of a music talent is done by a handful of 45-55 year olds. I don’t know a lot about new music acts. But my arthritic left knee was telling me that Mellencamp is a uniquely bad choice for Chevy. But I didn’t want to rest on my fortysomething instinct. So, I dug around a bit with some of my go-to pop culture mavens. This is what I learned. “ATA” has become a popular piece of slang among young hipsters around LA. ATA refers to “Ain’t that America,” which is from JCM’s song “Little Pink Houses.” Kids say “That’s SO ATA!” or “That’s so ain’t that America!” around LA to describe things that are bad, cliche…hopelessly Southern, in an ironic fashion.
What is ironic, of course, is that GM in the past few months has turned to Deutsch LA for some Major League Baseball related Chevy ads, rather than give that business to long-time Chevy shop Campbell-Ewald, Detroit, which created the new Silverado campaign. And it recently hired New York company Translation Brand Imaging to help it avoid these gaffes. In other words, GM has been acknowledging in gradual and steady ways that Campbell-Ewald is, perhaps…a bit ATA itself.
I know. A lot of Southern and Midwestern fortysomething and fiftysomething good ol’ boys probably still buy JCM tickets at the summer retro concerts. But the idea here ought to be to try and find a music talent that might appeal to those people without looking foolish with customers under 40, and under 30.
John Cougar Mellencamp? What…Eddie Money and Huey Lewis were busy?