Well done, Chevy.
As tributes continue to pour in marking the death of Prince, few were more striking than the one that came from General Motors’ Chevrolet division.
Chevy bought full-page ads in six newspapers that depict the iconic back end of a crimson red 1963 Chevrolet Corvette. It was pictured against a black background with the epitaph: “Baby that was much too fast, 1958-2016,” a nod to the lyrics in Prince’s 1982 hit Little Red Corvette.
The image was also tweeted and posted on Facebook.
— Chevrolet (@chevrolet) April 22, 2016
Chevy wasn’t alone. Other brands, from General Mills’ Cheerios to Makers Mark whiskey also attempted tributes, braving a possible backlash in case the image or copy was deemed promotional.
The General Motors brand, however, played heavy on the understatement. Neither the GM nor Chevrolet names appear in the ad — only the car, and it all came together in the space of about three to five hours.
Craig Daitch, Chevy’s advertising spokesman, and the brand’s social media manager received the news of Prince’s passing over their smartphones during a media drive near Nashville. Then they heard from Paul Edwards, Chevy’s vice president of advertising. “We were all thinking the same thing,” Daitch says.
The key was setting just the right tone.
“We spent the afternoon thinking of how we could do that tribute in a tasteful way” in conjunction with the brand’s ad agency, Commonwealth//McCann. “We didn’t want to make the piece about Chevrolet. This was a tribute to Prince and Prince fans,” Daitch says.
In the end, the ad was a model of simplicity. The ad ran in USA TODAY, New York Times, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, Minneapolis Star Tribune and Los Angeles Times. It was an immediate hit. Daitch said Chevy has received an outpouring of support, including 8,599 “likes” on Twitter and 8,346 retweets.