GMC's Super Bowl Ad Bows 'Never Say Never' Theme

GMC, General Motors' SUV and truck division, will join siblings Chevrolet and Cadillac in the Super Bowl ad lineup. The company bows the first effort during the Bowl game by its new agency of record, the Detroit office of Leo Burnett, which also handles Pontiac, and which wrested the account away from GMC's long-time agency, Lowe, N.Y.

The 60-second spot features an animated short by Hungarian animator Marcell Jankovics that was nominated for an Academy Award back in the '70s. The ad--"Why Push?"--focuses on GMC's new hybrid gas/electric version of the Yukon full-sized SUV. The spot also bows a new theme line that will be introduced in a new brand effort next month: "Never Say Never."

The first part of the advertisement shows a black-and-white, constantly morphing drawing of a man, alternately muscular, sometimes merely a representation in lines, rolling a boulder up a hill. During his struggles, a voiceover says: "Why push? Why change? Why grow? Why dream? Questions you don't have to ask yourself. When you never say it's good enough. When you never say it can't be done. When you never... say never." The short shifts into images of a white Yukon hybrid and text, noting that the vehicle gets 50% better mileage.



Mary Kubitskey, national advertising manager for GMC, says the ad doesn't reflect a departure from GMC's decade-old "Professional Grade" positioning. "We aren't changing strategy from 'Professional Grade'," she says. "We like to think [the ad] catches the emotional appeal, that the spot personalizes the Professional Grade theme."

She says the "Never Say Never" line will be incorporated "throughout our new campaign." Also, per Kubitskey, the new minute-long spot is slated for the Academy Awards broadcast as well. She concedes the new spot will be a striking contrast to the usual mid- to lowbrow Super Bowl ad fare. "We didn't set out to create a Super Bowl ad," she says. "It's not a funny spot; we think it's simple and emotional, that it delivers good, simple messages."

The ad will also be posted on GMC's Web site just before the game, and also on YouTube.

As for GMC's new brand push, which launches next month around the time of the Academy Awards, ads will feature GMC's Sierra pickup truck, Acadia crossover, Yukon and possibly--per Kubitskey--a full-line brand spot.

The casual observer might see irony in the new advertisement's Sisyphean imagery, given high gasoline prices that have driven consumers away from truck-based SUVs that are GMC's stock in trade, and toward crossovers. Indeed, while the company officially posted sales of 505,746 vehicles last year, versus 481,222 in 2006, the increase came entirely from the division's only crossover vehicle, the Acadia. Sales of all other GMC vehicles were down last year.

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