Gotta hand it to the folks at GM. This ad, which I first saw during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, is a grabber. It works really well.
The part that really pulled me in and kept me watching long enough to find out what it was about? The bit from “Animal House” when the Deltas are all sitting around looking dejected. They offer that slightly vague little pop culture reference, and it feels like a bit of a challenge, like, “Do you know what this is?” and you do, and you feel cool for knowing, so you keep watching to see what else you’ll see.
You get the sense that it’s pitched at Boomers and our elders, because of the combination of that and Popeye, and to a slightly lesser extent Evel Knievel, and especially the failed launch from the early days of NASA. (I had to explain that to my daughter, because she didn’t understand there was a time when we all thought, as Tom Wolfe summed it up, “Our rockets always blow up!“) It’s nice to see an ad pitched to grownups, one that makes us feel like we’re with it. If we listen hard enough, we even realize that piano is wandering about the melody of “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.” (I thought, “Long and Winding…” no, but something about a road being long… Um, Neil Diamond… no, not originally… then I got it. The Hollies.)
Anyway, nice job. A minimalist gesture, to be sure. But as a small gesture, a first step, toward thanking America for the bailout, it works.