Office humor has long been a staple of both TV commercials and the sitcoms those commercials support. A new Chevy campaign combines all three elements into a new brand content initiative with a familiar feel.
Chevrolet’s latest dealership campaign, "Under the Blue Arch," is based around a series of ads with an overtly sitcom-like feel. The ads, created by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, take place at a car dealership notable only for a lack of customers and its resemblance to every car dealership you’ve ever been inside. The absence of customers isn’t a slight on the product, however, but rather a way for viewers to see the Chevrolet employees interact with each other in a dead-on spoof of the modern workplace sitcom. On the surface, "Under the Blue Arch" is more or less indistinguishable from any new TV show. It’s just distributed online in one- to three-minute bursts.
Taking the form of a sitcom might not be a natural fit for every ad, but the idea of a car dealership using that format makes a certain kind of sense. "The most simple and repeatable way to say everything the sales team wanted to communicate was through a standard setting of a Chevy dealership, with a consistent cast of characters," says Ralph Watson, executive creative director at GSP Detroit. "Over time, they will become familiar and this format allows the one thing that is new each time to be the star." He adds, "People are so savvy about what is and isn’t an ad, and also when they are being talked down to or being invited to be entertained more. So part of the fun of this is the inside joke of it."
It’s a joke that anybody who’s ever seen NBC’s Thursday-night lineup will get immediately. And even if they don’t, the opening salvo in the campaign, a spot entitled "Team Building," lays out the self-aware premise. During a round of Nerf gun turf warfare, the employees gather to discuss how their pre-work team-building shenanigans would be a funny thing to watch on television. Everyone nods at the idea as though it were revelatory, save for one incredulous fellow who serves as an audience surrogate. "There have been literally thousands of those shows," he says.
Hammering home the premise is a catchy, jangly-pop theme song about how your friendly local Chevrolet dealer is selling the American Dream. There’s even an opening credits sequence in the "Team Building" ad.
In order to make these as close to the real thing as possible, GSP tapped Randall Einhorn, a veteran director of several workplace comedies, including The Office and Parks and Recreation. "Randall brought exactly what the idea needed, and more importantly exactly what it didn’t," says Watson. "I was worried going into it about the ads being wrongfully perceived as a copy of popular television formulas. So I thought, 'Who better to break the mold than the man that helped make it?'"
The spots may have just begun to air, but it looks like we may be getting used to Kyle the New Guy and the rest of the team that populates the fictional dealership. Chevrolet plans on having them stick around for a while. "This is round one," Watson says. "I have often referred to it as the pilot for our commercial season. I’m hoping it gets picked up."
Below are a couple of the other "episodes" of that new workplace sitcom your cubemates are buzzing about: