Chevy's new TV ad for its Sonic subcompact, "Night Swimming," is one of the industry's best spots so far this year because it effectively targets the Millennial generation whose interest is so crucial to the success of any car in that segment.
There are a few reasons why, including how the commercial highlights the myChevrolet app after the driver has locked his keys in the car. “The all-new Chevrolet Sonic, with the myChevrolet app,” intones Tim Allen in the voice-over, as the spot's happy swimmers drive away. “From ‘close call,’ to ‘best night ever.’”
Two other big reasons are the director, Jason Reitman, and the soundtrack. It's not unusual for automotive OEMs to snag big-name directors for their commercials anymore. For example, Paul Feig (The Bridesmaids) and Rob Cohen (The Simpsons) helped Ford pull off its highly successful Focus Doug online video campaign last year.
Reitman, of Juno and Up in the Air fame, was attracted to the idea of helming the "Night Swimming" spot in part because of the creative possibilities, Matt Scarlett, Sonic advertising manager, told brandchannel.
"He was so passionate about this idea and this ad," Scarlett said. "It reminded him of a Volkswagen ad that was done a while ago called 'Pink Moon,' which he considered a classic. He wanted to do something with an idea that kind of emulated that."
In the "Pink Moon" spot for the VW Cabrio, six years ago, a group of twenty-somethings ride around under the glow of a pale moon against the strains of the spot's eponymous song, by Nick Drake. The soundtrack for "Night Swimming" is the song "Each Coming Night" by Iron & Wine — not the REM song of the same name.
Scarlett said that the Sonic and Reitman teams literally selected the song while actually filming the spot last year with the creative team from Goodby Silverstein, Chevy's agency. "It was a surreal moment," he said. "You discover right there that a song either fits the moment or it doesn't."
Could exposure on "Night Swimming" — which will comprise all of Sonic's TV advertising in June after being revealed on the Billboard Music Awards telecast on ABC last month — do the same thing for the song and the band as a previous Sonic campaign did for the indie band Fun?
That band's song "We Are Young" surged in buzz and sales after Chevrolet used it as the theme to back its Sonic ad during the Super Bowl, which depicted a lot of the social-media, online-only video stunts that the brand had been executing since introducing Sonic last fall, along with a follow-up commercial (watch below).
In any event, Scarlett noted, music will continue to be a focus in future Sonic ads. "The key to reaching Millennials," he said, "is touching them with music." Indie music, ideally.