To Infinity and Beyond?: Tim Allen to Voice Chevy Cruze Spots
By Charles Krome
Chevrolet is one of those brands that’s known nearly as much for its advertising as it is for the actual products that bear its name. Not only do its hits—like “Baseball, hotdogs, etc., etc.” or “Like a Rock”—have a tendency to become part of popular culture, but its misses get a surprisingly amount of coverage, too. Just witness the kerfuffle over the division’s move to drop the term “Chevy” from its marketing efforts and put the focus on “Chevrolet” proper.
This attention has been concentrated even further recently, since Chevrolet, as the General’s high-volume brand, bears the brunt of the responsibility for turning around General Motors as a whole. Buick, GMC and Cadillac no doubt sell some nice vehicles, but the Chevrolet Silverado alone moved more than 34,000 units in August, a number that topped total GMC sales by more than 15,000 vehicles. Looked at another way, the big pickup outsold Cadillac and Buick combined by roughly 4,000 units.
This puts a lot of pressure on the new Chevrolet Cruze, and this in turn puts a lot of pressure on the new Chevrolet Cruze marketing campaign. And so does the fact that the new Cruze advertising will be the first major effort from Chevy’s latest ad agency, Goodby Silverstein. And that’s a story in itself.
Campbell-Ewald had been Chevy’s main advertising partner for some 90 years, but was dumped for Publicis late last year. Then, General Motors hired hot-shot marketer Joel Ewanick away from Nissan, which had hired Ewanick away from Hyundai just a few weeks earlier.
In other words, the Cruze, Chevrolet, Ewanick and Goodby all have plenty to prove, which helps explain why it’s such big news that Tim Allen will be the “the voice of Chevrolet” starting with the Cruze launch spots.
The ads are expected to debut on September 7, and I hope to provide a link or two when they hit the Internet, but the choice of Allen looks like a winning one: Between his long-running eponymous sitcom, the “Santa Clause” movies and his role as Buzz Lightyear in the “Toy Story” trilogy, he’s got built-in appeal for customers of a wide variety of ages. He’s also a metro Detroit native who’s known for his interest in muscle cars, so he has that “car guy” thing working for him as well.
Just as significantly, he’ll make for a nice change of pace from Howie Long, who had become absolutely insufferable during his tenure as a Chevy spokesman. I was a big fan of Long’s work in the NFL, but just to go all 1990s here, there’s something distinctly Steve Urkel-like about his appearances for Chevrolet—although I sort of enjoy the commercial in which Long admits there is one Honda vehicle that Chevrolet can’t compete with and then shows a lawnmower.
On the other hand, I’m not so sure that Europe getting the Cruze hatchback and the U.S. getting Tim Allen is at all a fair tradeoff.