Chevy shifts gears with new tagline

October 28, 2010 | blog | By Mike Sullivan

If ever there was a business that eats its own, it’s advertising.

Last night during Game 1 of the World Series, Chevrolet debuted their new tagline/themeline “Chevy Runs Deep,” and already it’s getting torched. One critic said the line created by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners was an overt attempt to sell people patriotic heritage. Another called it a clear attempt to get people to buy American. One feature writer looking to have his sophomoric hyperbole picked up as a quick sound bite called it “the worst ad slogan ever” and joked about the line’s sexual innuendo. Everyone’s certainly entitled to an opinion, but let’s at least have one that’s informed.

As an ad guy and a writer, I love the line. Too often taglines are completely vapid and devoid of anything emotional or meaningful. Taglines need to tell you something about the brand. They need to inspire you. Move you. Evoke something. Change your perception. “Just Do It,” probably the most famous tagline of our lifetime, could have been written 1,000 other ways but Nike found the perfect way to tap into the wannabe athlete, thump us on the head and say “get off your ass.” Stop making excuses. Just do it already.

Chevy’s tagline before “Chevy Runs Deep,” was “Excellence For All.” A line meaningful for none. That line does nothing to tap into a brand that’s as American and heartfelt as, well…baseball, hot dogs and apple pie. “Chevy Runs Deep” is for the hardcore customer who loves the brand. Who lives the brand. People like my father-in-law who bought his first Chevy when Kennedy was President and hasn’t stopped since. “Chevy Runs Deep” SPEAKS to them. But it also asks non-Chevy buyers to consider one thing – what it is about the brand that hardcore consumers connect with so deeply? For those people, Chevy is way more than just a car. It’s an ideal. “Chevy Runs Deep” works in a way it never would for Kia, or Subaru, or Volkswagen, or even Lincoln.

When asked about the new tagline, Jeff Goodby commented that he thought it would catch on the way their other famous tagline “Got Milk?” did years ago. Maybe so. But before all the “experts” start trashing the work, let’s see how the line falls with consumers. My suspicion is they will find nothing sappy, hokey, or disingenuous about buying American. About believing in something. Or about connecting deeply with a brand they love.

Certainly makes me want to take another look.

Mike Sullivan

President at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency


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