Chevrolet Launches New Corvette Ad

By Charles Krome

About six years ago, in what seemed to me like another gratuitous anti-Detroit effort, auto safety watchdogs convinced GM to pull its latest Corvette commercial. The spot, showing a young boy hooning it up in a ‘Vette while his schoolmates gaped in astonishment, was knocked for encouraging underaged, over-the-top driving, though the scenes were clearly—clearly—meant to be the product of the kid’s imagination.

And that was pretty much the last time you saw a Corvette commercial on TV—until late last week. That’s when Chevrolet debuted a new ad showcasing the Corvette ZR1, with a suitably patriotic “It’s nice to know America still builds rockets” tag line.

I’m sure there are a lot of reasons Chevrolet shifted away from featuring the ‘Vette on the tube, not the least of which is the fact that the car presents a bit of a paradox for the General. On the one hand, the Bowtie brand is supposed to be GM’s high-volume, “meat and potatoes” division; on the other, Chevrolet also happens to offer the fastest, most expensive car GM has ever sold. Today’s ZR1 can run all the way up to 205 mph, courtesy of a supercharged 638-hp LS9 V8 and plenty of carbon fiber, but you’ll also have to run to the bank to get one. The MSRP on this baby starts at a cool $106,880.

Now, in the world of high-performance supercars—which is exactly where the Corvette ZR1 resides—100K is a big-time bargain. At your local Chevy dealership, well, not so much. So, while the Corvette guys didn’t want to sully their image by deigning to associate with cars like the Chevrolet Aveo, the rest of the division didn’t want to scare away customers looking for basic, affordable transportation.

But what we’re seeing today is a sea change in where Chevrolet is positioning itself in the marketplace, as highlighted by the Chevrolet Malibu. Did you realize that among the current crop of mainstream midsize sedans, the vehicles that represent today’s quintessential family cars, the Malibu has the highest base MSRP? Regardless of whether it “deserves” to be priced higher than a Honda Accord, the fact that Chevrolet is stickering it that way is a clean break with how the General did business in the past.

Needless to say, connecting the ZR1 with Chevrolet is a lot easier when the division isn’t worried so much about price points.

As for the new Corvette ad itself, I only have one quibble: The commercial essentially contrasts the dedicated engineers at Chevrolet with the team at NASA, another American organization known for building rockets, at least before our country’s “priorities changed.”

Uh, earth to General Motors: You bet the country’s priorities have changed. That money you imply would be better spent at NASA? Lest you forget, it went to keep you in business instead.

Author: Charles Krome

Charles Krome is a long-time automotive journalist who spent more than 10 years on the inside at General Motors and Ford, and also has corporate communications experience with Audi, Porsche and BASF Automotive Refinish. As a big motorsports fan growing up in the Detroit area, Krome was lucky enough to be able to attend numerous NASCAR, Indy car, F1 and SCCA events while still in his formative years. This, combined with a childhood that included significant (passenger) seat time in cars from Lotus and Jensen Healey, made him a car guy at an earlier age. Today, he lives in metro Detroit with his car wife, raising car kids.

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