I cried while watching football. No, it’s not because my Browns lost another late-season game. I expect that this time of year, but for some reason I still watch anyway.
I cried watching Chevrolet’s 2023 holiday ad, “A Holiday To Remember.” If you are overly sentimental, I’ll summarize the commercial for you. Otherwise, please watch and have a box of tissues ready.
The ad opens with a rambunctious large family holiday gathering, and then focuses on the matriarch who is staring off into the distance. Several members of the family try to communicate with her, but she does not respond. It quickly becomes evident that she is suffering from Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Suddenly, her 20-something granddaughter, Tracy, has an epiphany. She walks her grandmother out to the garage, and the pair climb into a 1972 Chevrolet Suburban. As the two drive around town, listening to “Sunshine on My Shoulders” by John Denver, Tracy begins pointing out things around town hoping to spark a conversation.
Slowly the grandmother begins to realize that she is in her hometown, Saginaw, MI. We begin to see the memories of a life well lived come flooding back to her. A stop at her high school, at the drive-in movie theatre, a couple’s first kiss; all the unforgettable moments that happen in your car. Suddenly she remembers her husband Bill, and the pair drive straight back to the house. Gramps climbs into the front seat of the Suburban, she recognizes him, the two kiss, then go inside the house to celebrate what is likely Grams’ final Christmas.
We talk a lot at Coleman Insights about the importance of brand building. We use The Image Pyramid to help audio entertainment brands prioritize their marketing efforts. The first step to establishing a strong and resilient brand is to solidify its base image. What is the brand? Why does it exist? In Chevy’s case, they manufacture and sell cars and trucks. Everyone knows that. Since this base attribute of the brand is firmly established, Chevy has the luxury of focusing on other brand elements higher up the Image Pyramid.
For a decade, Chevy has positioned itself with the slogan “Find New Roads,” a uniquely American positioning statement. It encourages the consumer to associate the brand with commonly held consumer perceptions of what it means to be an American: Innovation, Exploration, Leadership, etc.
The “A Holiday To Remember” commercial is part of Chevy’s campaign for its new slogan “Together Let’s Drive.” In an interview with Automotive News, Chevy CMO Steve Majoros says that the “Together Let’s Drive” campaign was the result of nearly a year of market research that uncovered a shift in consumer values following the pandemic, a return to “a sense of respect and admiration for trusted institutions and a focus on friends, family, and community.” “A Holiday To Remember” brilliantly continues this effort by subtly connecting the Chevrolet brand with the importance of family, friends, and community.
In contrast, nearly every other commercial I saw during the Browns game was screaming about 40% off, BOGO, Black Friday, or something. Nothing that made me want to connect with the brand, and consequently since I can’t recall any of the messages, I will be shopping on Amazon again this year.
Radio should take note of the “Together Let’s Drive” campaign. Like the car, music has always been a central part of our lives. It’s there when we fall in love, celebrate with friends, and enjoy the best of what life has to offer. Assuming that your base music position is firmly established in the minds of your listeners, perhaps you can incorporate the power of memories in your programming this holiday season. Where were you when you first heard this song? What song was playing when you first fell in love? What memory does “White Christmas” evoke? Etc.
For me, my love of music comes from my mother who was a music teacher for nearly 50 years. She lost her battle with Dementia in 2017, but she is frequently in my thoughts, especially this time of year. While watching this Chevrolet ad, I recalled that she used to sing “Sunshine on My Shoulders” when I was a child to cheer me up if I had had a bad day. Thanks for the memories, Chevy.