No, we’re not talking about Apple or Amazon or Big Data or the Marketing Cloud or Programmatic Buying. We’re talking about how Chevrolet quickly turned a gaffe by a regional zone manager in Kansas City during the presentation of a 2015 Chevy Colorado pickup truck to World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner Wednesday night into a clever tagline, making lemonade out of a social media meme that easily could have gone the other way.
Chevy’s Rikk Wilde “looked down at his notes often, spoke haltingly and explained to the pitcher that he'd like the Colorado” — Marketing Daily’s Karl Greenberg has the skinny today on its new “inner truck guy” conventional campaign — “because it has ‘class-winning and leading, you know, technology and stuff,’” James R. Healey reports in USA Today.
“The nervous Wilde was assured this morning he still has a job,” Greg Gardner and Alisa Priddle reported in the Detroit Free Press last evening. “And in fact he appears to have garnered millions in free publicity for the Chevrolet brand, which has received at least $2.4 million in media exposure from the unconventional presentation, according to Front Row Analytics. Bloomberg reports that is six times more than the $392,000 it would have brought in with a more polished performance.”
It did not take long for #technologyandstuff to pop up on Twitter with GM president North America Mark Reuss (@GMdudeinNA posting, “It's what I've been saying for years..... #technologyandstuff,” Gardner and Priddle report.
And #Chevyguy “quickly became nearly as famous as Bumgarner,” Nick Schwartz reports in USA Today Sports with a selection of sympathetic tweets about his departure from the script.
“GM had lined up Wilde, a lifelong Royals fan, for the post-game presentation because he’s a good employee and loves baseball,” the Kansas City Starreports. “There was hope that he’d be giving the keys to a Chevrolet Colorado to someone on the home team.”
Yesterday at 9 a.m., “Wilde got the phone call from his big boss at General Motors,” according to the AP’s account. “The Chevy leadership team called and told him he did nothing wrong. It's all good. Everyone here has his back,” Michael Albano, the brand's top spokesman, said.
“He was on message. The truck has technology and stuff. We will use that term and stuff,” Albano added.
And it already has. “Later Thursday, it released to media videos of the Colorado with the headline “You Know You Want a Truck with Technology and Stuff,’” Jim Lynch reports in the Detroit News.
It’s a move right out of the playbook Code and Theory executives Dan Gardner and Steve Baer advocated in an Advertising Age piece earlier this month in advising marketers to “make more like publishers and adopt a truly responsive philosophy….”
Deeper down, they write: “Companies that succeed in this world have the courage to organize their content marketing operations like newsrooms. In addition to planning campaigns months in advance, they empower their strategists to behave like editors and publish reactively and quickly.”
On the other hand, Gardner and Baer contend, publishers “need to act more like brands, putting care into distinguishing their product from competitors and truly connecting with their readers.”
An article by New York Times reporter Michael Powell, who talked to dozens of people around Bumgarner’s hometown in the Appalachian foothills in North Carolina this week, did exactly that. It became something of a meme itself with details such as Madison giving his wife Ali a cow for a wedding present.
I first heard about it in a email my brother, a diehard Jints fan and transplanted New Yorker living in the outskirts of Los Angeles, sent out to friends and Giants’ foes alike.
“This is AWESOME! Chock full of country wisdom: “Sometimes you’re the bug, and sometimes you’re the windshield. Sometimes you’re the pigeon, and sometimes you’re the statue."
The article concludes with a text Madison’s dad, Kevin, sent him during the eighth inning of Game 7 that begins, “OMG. You’re so much more than awesome."
You can’t make this stuff up, as Yogi Berra probably said, even if he didn’t. But Rikk Wilde said what he said in front of millions of people on live TV, and untold millions more on Internet-connected devices and things. And Chevy is owning it.