Let it be stipulated that the Chevy Volt commercial that ran during the Super Bowl was slick and visually enticing.
Instead of going for a laugh (a la, Volkswagen), Chevy went with “We Are the Vanguard of a New Technological Age.” It was Motor City as presented by PBS’s “The American Experience,” complete with stirring music, vintage footage (recreated), and a sonorous voice-over that gives even a rather predictable script a sense of gravitas.
Ok, it’s not a bad idea, per se: presenting the Volt as the culmination of technological breakthroughs from Ben Franklin’s lighting-struck kite, to Edison’s improvement on the incandescent light bulb, to the Howdy Dowdy show (or perhaps just to television in general), to the Apollo space program, to the computer revolution that began in someone’s garage. Oh, yeah, somewhere in there, inexplicably, was what appeared to be a white guy dressed up as Jimi Hendrix playing “Foxy Lady.”
Noticeably absent from the $3 million ad was the Volt’s tag line: “More Car Than Electric.” That’s understandable. The ad is meant to convey the innovative leap the Volt represents. The tag line is supposed to reassure us that the vehicle isn’t too far out there. You don’t want to mix those irreconcilable messages.
The problem is that the omitted tag line is the more accurate assessment of the Volt.