DETROIT -- General Motors' biggest advertising launch since its 2009 bankruptcy began last week with a commercial for the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado meant to strike an emotional chord with truck buyers.
The 60-second spot, part of a broader marketing campaign that likely will top $300 million, is set to an original song created for Chevrolet, "Strong," by country star Will Hoge. It features familiar truck-ad imagery, like a redesigned pickup rumbling through construction sites and past farm fields, and a father consoling his son after a Little League game.
Chevy is going back to its roots by "focusing more on what the Silverado means emotionally, not just functionally," says Harvey Briggs, a consultant and advertising blogger who once worked on Chevy truck advertising while at Detroit agency Campbell-Ewald.
Briggs says Chevy is taking well-worn truck themes but redefining them "so that 'strong' means something broader." He points to a line from the song: ''Everybody knows he ain't just tough. He's strong.''
Briggs says: "That's a clear shot across the bow at Ford," which uses the "Built Ford Tough" tag line.
GM said it will use that commercial and others in Texas through mid-July and roll out the campaign to national audiences next week during Major League Baseball's Home Run Derby and All-Star Game, events that Chevy sponsors.
Chris Perry, Chevrolet's vice president of U.S. marketing, says Chevy is staking out fertile ground in the pickup segment through advertising that plays to truck buyers' emotions and values.
"Those traditional truck, traditional American values, things like selflessness, self-reliance, determination, commitment to family and community," Perry said, aren't reflected much in advertising right now, with most truck advertising focusing more on toughness and power.
Ram also hit on the hard-working theme this year with its "Farmer" Super Bowl commercial, an ode to farmers and ranchers narrated by the late radio broadcaster Paul Harvey.
GM is counting on the redesigned Silverado and GMC Sierra to help claw back market share that it has ceded to Ford and Chrysler's Ram in recent years. The outgoing trucks have been on the market with few improvements since their launch in the fall of 2006.
Perry wouldn't disclose a dollar amount but said it will be GM's biggest marketing launch in "the last five or six years at least," and will exceed spending on the last Silverado launch.
GM earmarked nearly $300 million to market the launch of the 2007 Silverado, the last redesign, Automotive News reported at the time, citing sources familiar with the plans.