Campbell-Ewald, Chevy's longtime agency, recently introduced a heart-stoppingly expensive 60-second commercial called 'American Snapshots.' It's part of the General Motors division's long-range plan to regain its position of dominance.
And if the bow-tie brand's vehicle designs, styling, features and quality match the pace set by 'American Snapshots,' it just might succeed in becoming No. 1 in car sales.
There are 80 images in the one-minute spot, including such memorable sights as V-J Day in Times Square, an Apollo launch and Martin Luther King Jr. leading a civil rights march.
The production and editing techniques used in the commercial look like the work of Chuck Workman, who won an Oscar in 1986 in the 'short film, live action' category. He's famous for his film style of quick cuts or dissolves moving from one image to another.
That's what the Chevy spot does, as it takes us from one memorable era to another throughout U.S. history.
The addition of a Chevy in the famous 1945 Alfred Eisenstaedt photo taken on V-J Day in Times Square is really nice. It looks like it was part of the celebration - which probably would have been impossible because Times Square likely was closed to traffic on V-J Day.
Obviously, I feel the new spot works. It creates a distinct American image, attitude, feeling and spirit for Chevrolet. It's a commercial, but it does not look or sound like a typical car commercial. In fact, there's just one scene when two new vehicles are shown. And that's at the end of the commercial, and it's really quick.
Putting the commercial together took the efforts of 20 to 30 agency people. The production time frame was 18 months from concept to finish.
There had to be a review of literally tons of reels and images from stock photo houses and from GM and Campbell-Ewald's own film archives. Then the culling of hundreds of images began. Moving down from a gigantic sum to a precious, select few took time and talent.
Once the few were chosen, Campbell-Ewald did not follow the usual production routine. It used an editing company whose primary business is producing movie trailers - the previews of movies to come.
To add vehicles to the scenes, the agency turned to Digital Domain, the digital-effects wizards who created the dazzling effects in the movie Titanic.
The same music house that created 'The Heart-beat of America' reworked and rescored 'See The U.S.A. in Your Chevrolet,' the song Dinah Shore sang in the '50s and early '60s when Chevy sponsored her weekly TV show. More than 40 versions were produced to get to the one used in the commercial.
The new music theme has a contemporary feeling without overpowering the message. And it does not lose the appeal of the original to those of us who remember it as an icon from a bygone age of advertising - especially Dinah throwing a kiss to the audience with a mighty, 'Mmmwhaa!'
There are some shortcomings. I think the audio mix is a little too hot, and the voiceover was hard to understand. The singer's lyrics, however, were easy to understand.
Neither Chevy nor Camp-bell-Ewald would breathe a word about the cost. But you can bet it was expensive, even as national commercials go. I'd guess in the low seven figures.