"There isn't anyone else who could do this campaign," says Jim Jandesek, director of car advertising and sales promotion at Chevrolet. "We didn't put Chevrolet in those songs. Our culture did."
The ads are "all about authenticity and reminding some of the target audience," says Bill Ludwig, chief creative officer at Campbell-Ewald. "And for others, it's reclaiming our rightful place as the icon of car culture."
Robert Thompson, professor of public communications at Syracuse University, says: "General Motors made cars about a dream, a myth, a lifestyle. They really did usher in the automobile culture because they put the culture into it. The '57 Chevy became so emblematic of the rock and roll era." He teaches a course on cars in Western society.
Thompson says the social mileposts that started the car culture - passage into adulthood as symbolized by a driver's license, the experience of going fast, defying care and caution - still apply. "All of that is as true today as back when they were making tail fins."
Today's trendsetters are souping up (or "tricking out" in Generation Y lingo) Chevys for drag races, complete with deejays and dancers on the side," Ludwig says.
"It's very similar to (the movie) 'The Fast and the Furious,' " he says. These so-called tuner clubs are "mirroring what happened in the '50s when cars and Chevrolet became a symbol of mobility," except that instead of grease monkeys, kids are "cybermonkeys."
Adding touches for the cybersavvy, Chevrolet is expanding its chevy.com Web site with games and polls to vote for a favorite and missed Chevy song. It also is looking into a deal with a cellular company for downloadable Chevy song ring tones.
Other plans include college campus and youth events, a repeat of its 1.2 million circulation customized Rolling Stone calendar and a possible "Making of the calendar" program on Viacom's VH1 or MTV.
The automaker also is considering music videos of Chevrolet songs.
"We've had offers from a couple of artists to use their product in music videos," says Andrea Wells, director of the Chevrolet car account at Campbell-Ewald.
Already, Chevrolet has partnered with Wenner Media and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino for the Chevrolet Rock & Roll Tour.
The 18-month tour, which makes 27 stops through the fall, offers a rock memorabilia museum that includes historic Gibson guitars as well as classic and new Chevrolets.