Chevy's Gay Marriage Ad Is Misguided

Thursday, 13 Feb 2014 10:42 AM

By Ronn Torossian

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Sometimes silence really is golden. If there was a list of brands that would be considered the most likely to stay out of the progressive culture war, conventional thinking would argue that Chevrolet would be high on that list.
 
Chevy is an all-American brand, popular with NASCAR-loving conservative values voters, and demographics that may not think favorably of liberal change in cultural mores. That’s what “conventional wisdom” may argue. But apparently conventional wisdom is wrong.
 
With its new Chevrolet Traverse commercial, Chevy has jumped feet first into the hornet’s nest of America’s ongoing debate on gay marriage, and made a commercial sure to alienate some — on an issue which no one asked for their opinion. There’s no right or wrong answer — but as a PR agency CEO I ask, why would an iconic brand get involved in this no-win discussion?
 
How is it strategically advantageous to Chevy to enter any divisive political debate? No one is asking the company to take part in the gay marriage discussion, so why call attention to itself on this issue? It’s unnecessary and could be detrimental. Sometimes less (or none at all) is more. Is this really their issue?
 
Rather than rushing into a debate which they think the media will appreciate, brands may want to pay more attention to considering potential outcomes and repercussions before getting into any kind of public conversation.
 
Sometimes getting involved in a fight is a loss — think of two people screaming at each other in the middle of the street. If you walked by during the altercation, it would be hard to tell which one was right and which one was wrong, and who the aggressor was. All you see are two people screaming at each other.
 
Meanwhile, if you had seen the situation from the beginning, you’d know that one guy was bothering and harassing everyone who walked by, and the other had tried to stop him. One guy was clearly the good guy, but how many people are aware of that? Join in a fight and you risk getting dirty.
 
Chevy wants Republicans and Democrats to buy their brand, those for and opposed to gay marriage — so why touch this discussion? Wouldn’t they want everyone to be loyal Chevy fans, buying Chevys, and cheering for Chevy drivers on the circuit?
 
With this commercial, Chevy is making a socio-political statement which I’d argue for a brand like this is a mistake.
 
Ronn Torossian is one of America’s foremost Public Relations executives as founder/CEO of 5WPR, a leading independent PR Agency. The firm was honored as PR Firm of the Year by The American Business Awards, and has been named to the Inc. 500 List. Torossian is author of the best-selling "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations." For more of Ronn Torossian's reports, Go Here Now.
 
 

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