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Chevy Silverado Ad is "So...ATA"

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?

Reader Comments

C Spence

October 13, 2006 12:58 PM

Personally, I think it's wise for Chevy to play up the Americana angle, and JCM seems like a good candidate to do so. I was surprised when the Japanese imports became dominant in the US auto industry, shocked when they successfully moved into the luxury market, and stunned when they made inroads into full size trucks. If Republicans can get laid off steel workers in Ohio to vote for them through marketing, I think Chevy can get those same people to buy their trucks with effective marketing. As for LA kids using "ATA" slang, I can't envision many of them buying a full size truck anytime soon.


October 17, 2006 8:18 PM

couldn't agree more with the review of the silverado campaign. it is painful painful painful to watch. the one thing i would say is that the advertising Deutsch has been doing, out of your precious LA is equally painful. bad advertising is not exclusive to a particular part of the country. even young hipsters can produce crap

John Cirdie

November 5, 2006 6:40 PM

John Kerry Ford Cougar Mellencamp.

Did he change his name again?

Little pink houses? GM should play Mellencamp's anti war/anti-Bush ballad. That should sell some trucks to the Ford loyals!


May 22, 2007 10:51 AM

It's about time GM and Chevy woke up. In the Detroit ad industry, Campbell-Ewald has a reputation for not only being a sweatshop that hires the cheapest talent then spits them out when they reach a certain pay scale, but for throwing together recycled "concepts" at the last possible second. Nothing they ever do is original -- it's just overpriced.


January 20, 2008 12:30 AM

Kudos to John and Chevy.

Why would chevy try to appeal to 20-30 year olds? They don't buy pick-ups.

And why wouldn't John sell his music to Chevy? Someone moved his cheese, but he ain't gonna lay down and die - TENACIOUS. (If you've never read "Who Moved My Cheese" - you won't get it)

John Mellencamp was never supposed to "make it" in the first place. He fooled them all then, and he's doing it agian, I hope he laughs all the way to the bank at all the negative comments people post about him. They don't even know that they jsut don't get it.

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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