Chevrolet Silverado will be as hard to avoid as the Baltimore Ravens pass rush for those tuning into ESPN's telecast of "SportsCenter" tonight.
That's because Chevy has bought every second of commercial time during the first hour of the telecast to present its own version of a media roadblock for the all-new 2014 Silverado, according to Molly Peck, director of advertising for Chevrolet.
As viewers tune in for highlights of tonight's scheduled NFL season opener between the Super Bowl champion Ravens and Denver Broncos, they'll also see roughly eight minutes of Silverado commercials. Plus callouts and billboards for Silverado during ESPN's flagship show. The network has done this sort of takeover before for SportsCenter. Neither ESPN nor Chevy would comment on the price of such a takeover.
The center piece of tonight's ad flight: a new commercial called "Convert" by Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett that explores the relationship between fathers and sons.
The touching, 60-second spot begins with a middle-aged Dad dragging his teen son along on a father-son camping trip in the middle of the night. Dad is the kind of rock-solid "everyday hero" who's emblematic of the Silverado brand. The teen? He'd rather stay at home and play computer games.
But as the two hike, fish, swim and explore a rugged mountain valley together, the young man is slowly "converted" to camping.
"It really talks about the amazing bond that fathers and sons have. And that time in any kid's life where maybe they don't have the easiest time relating," said Mrs. Peck.
Silverado's target market is mostly male. But plenty of women buy and drive pickup trucks these days too, she noted. Silverado has been saluting the All-American pickup truck driver in its ads for over 20 years, according to Mrs. Peck.
"We really honor this guy. He's the backbone of our country," she said. "He's kind of the guy we look up to. He's the guy you want as your neighbor. He's the guy you want to work with."
Some of the other Silverado spots include "Strong:" the 3.5 minute ode to pickup truck drivers featuring the song by Nashville singer and songwriter Will Hoge. The super-sized spot was created by Interpublic Group of Cos.' Commonwealth, Detroit, which handles the advertising for the rest of Chevy's brands.
Chevrolet will also re-air "Her Horse," a spot by Leo Burnett about a female rodeo rider who uses her Silverado to haul her horse around to competitions. Those two spots originally debuted during ESPN and Fox's coverage of Major League Baseball's Home Run Derby and MLB All Star Game in mid-July.
Leo Burnett and Commonwealth continue to quietly duel over the $290 million Silverado business which was held by Commonwealth until GM parked it at Leo Burnett in December.
Commonwealth scored a coup by helping to write the music for "Strong." As Chevrolet's lead global agency, Commonwealth would love to bring the Silverado creative business back to Detroit. But if Leo Burnett keeps coming up with heart-tugging spots such as "Convert," that task might be tougher than they think.
Mrs. Peck said Chevrolet brought in Leo Burnett to help Commonwealth deal with the heavy schedule of 13 new vehicle launches this year. She confirmed Commonwealth helped create the "Strong" song, but said Leo Burnett will continue to handle Silverado as Chevy maps out its ad strategy for Fox's coverage of Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2.
"With Leo Burnett's experience in the truck arena, it just made sense," said Mrs. Peck.