In an article for USA Today it was revealed that auto companies alone had purchased about 33 percent of commercial time for this past Sunday’s Super Bowl game. General Motors Company, through its Chevy brand, had released a commercial that poked fun at one of their competitors and the fear that the world would end later this year all in one.
This ad starts off by showing the viewer what seems to be a post-apocalyptic world and a newspaper with the headline reading, “2012 Mayan Apocalypse”, with the byline reading, “Will the World End Today?” A Silverado truck is then seen cranking up under some rubble and driving perfectly fine and undamaged while the world around it is reduce to piles of rock and destruction. The driver of the truck, a man who appears to be working class and middle aged, is then shown smiling at the fact that his dog, his truck and himself have made it through the world ending unscathed.
As they drive the viewer sees three possible reasons for this destruction; with the first being a giant robot that has been destroyed, the second being a crashed alien spaceship, and the third being a volcano and comets that would indicate the world ended because of a natural disaster. After driving to a meeting point where other Chevy truck drivers are waiting the driver gets out and ask his fellow survivors what became of their friend Dave to which another driver responds by saying, “Dave didn’t drive the longest lasting, most dependable truck on the road. Dave drove a Ford.” This suggests that Dave was not a survivor of this apocalypse and a brief moment of silence is held for their fallen friend. This moment is broken when the driver and another survivor share a Twinkie as the sky begins to rain frogs upon the men and their trucks.
After this a male voice is heard saying, “Chevy Silverado, from the beginning of your work day to the end of the world, Chevy runs deep.” Also throughout the ad, Barry Manilow’s song, “Looks Like We Made It”, is played with the lyrics, “Looks like we made it”, being the most emphasized.
Judging by the actors and their appearance and the tag line at the end of the ad, one would assume that Chevy is targeting the working class middle aged man in this ad.
Chevy used multiple tools of persuasion and has built an ad that has multiple meanings; however this ad also does not do women truck drivers’ justice, and portrays women in general in a bad light and disempowers them by neglecting to even acknowledge their existence in this ad. Chevy also neglected to mention certain crucial things in this ad about their truck and how it compares to Ford in the battle for pick-up truck supremacy.
The Media Literacy Project states that, “The goal of most media messages is to persuade the audience to believe or do something.” In the case of this ad or message Chevy wants you to believe that their Silverado truck line is the toughest truck on the road and that their truck can withstand nearly anything that its owner throws at it. They want to use this belief to persuade the consumer of the ad to go and purchase one of their trucks. To accomplish this however Chevy must use certain techniques to persuade the viewer into doing so.
Most of the persuasion techniques used in this ad where pointed out in the Media Literacy Project and are identifiable in this ad.
The most identifiable persuasion technique used in the Chevy ad was the “Association” technique which, as stated in the Medial Literacy Project, is taking something that is preferred or enjoyed by the targeted consumers and connecting it to whatever the ad is trying to sell which in this case would be the ideals of masculinity, toughness and survival.
Another technique used in this ad was the “Plain Folks” technique which means that the actors or models used in the ad are chosen to represent the product because they have the appearance of an average person. None of the actors in this ad were easily identifiable actors and where dressed to look like the working class male. The Media Literacy Project states that this is a popular technique for truck commercials.
Chevy was also able to use tow contradicting techniques in this ad as well with the two being the “Fear” and the “Humor” techniques. As stated by Ian O’Neill in his article, “http://news.discovery.com/autos/2012-doomsday-reaches-chevy-superbowl-ad-120103.html”, “Whether you are a crackpot with a book to sell, a multi-million dollar film production company, or a car manufacturer, you stand to profit from people’s fear.” This ad uses the fear of the world ending in 20122 as motivation for buying their truck, however, this is balanced out by the humorous way that this is presented by the song, the way the actors portrayed their characters, and by the sharing of the Twinkee at the end of the ad.
Chevy also used the “Intensity” technique in this advertisement when they used the words “longest lasting, most dependable truck on the road.” These words intensify the claim that Chevy produces the best and most durable truck.
The last persuasion technique used in this ad is the “Timing” technique. The Media Literacy Project mentions how “sometimes a media message is persuasive not because of what it says, but because of when it’s delivered.” This ad would not have been nearly effective if aired in 2011 or 2010 because the apocalyptic content would not be as relevant as it is now. This is one of the most powerful techniques used and has made this ad all the more memorable because of its timing.
Besides these numerous persuasion techniques there is also a vast amount of subtext used in this ad that is left for the viewer to decipher as this changes from viewer to viewer. Some of the subtext that I noticed when consuming this ad was the men value the company of an animal more than that of a woman. I came to this conclusion after noticing the fact that there wasn’t a single visible woman in the ad. Going off of the lack of women in this ad it could also be assumed that women do not purchase trucks and that women would not survive an apocalypse.
Woman working on a Chevy truck.
These subtexts send negative messages about women and trucks. The message that women do not buy trucks is completely inaccurate as Ford reported that 15-20 percent of their trucks are purchased by women in the article, “Truck Tales- Why Today’s Women Love Their Trucks”, by Joanne Helperin. The negative message that women would not be able to survive an apocalypse and that men would rather be accompanied by the presence of a dog then of a woman is another negative message that is reinforced by the lack of actresses in this commercial.
This message also disempowers women by simply neglecting to mention their existence as truck buyers or drivers and as companions for males in a post-apocalyptic world. Also neglected in this ad are some crucial pieces of information needed for potential buyers of a Silverado.
The starting price for a 2012 Silverado, according to Chevy’s website, is $22,195. This represents a huge piece of information as a consumer need to know how much they would need to purchase this truck. This is never mentioned in the ad however which represents Chevy not telling part of the story for this product.
Also not mentioned in this ad were facts proving the claim that the Silverado is the “longest lasting, most dependable truck on the road.” By doing this it seems that Chevy is making claims and taking shots at Ford without evidence to support their claims.
Seeing all this information should broaden one’s understanding of persuasion techniques in advertisements and should also show how under represented women are in truck ad and in automobile ads in general. This represents a huge gender discrimination as the female purchaser is not appealed to in this genre of ads and could be an untapped market for auto makers looking to boost their sales. In the future one could use this information to help create a truck ad that was both persuasive and that represented women as potential truck/automobile purchasers.
Petrecca, L. (2012, January 12). Carmakers seek super bowl ad wins. USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/money/advertising/story/2012-01-16/cars-super-bowl-ads/52606508/1
O’Neill, I. (2012, February 03). 2012 mayan doomsday inspires chevy super bowl ad. Discovery News. Retrieved from http://news.discovery.com/autos/2012-doomsday-reaches-chevy-superbowl-ad-120103.html