Ad Of The Week

Chevy Delivers A Purr-Fect Truck Ad Twist

4.5

One of the most entertaining things an ad can do is fool around a bit with category codes. If you’re in a sector where almost every ad looks the same or plays out in the same way, you’ve just been handed a great opportunity. You can make your viewers smile and prove that your brand is a little different and a lot smarter than the rest.

That’s what Chevrolet does with “Walter The Cat”, produced with Commonwealth/McCann. The ad premiered during the Tokyo Olympics coverage and rapidly picked up a ton of appreciative comments and positive press, with some people hailing fearless feline Walter as the “unofficial mascot” of the Games.

“Walter” is an ad of two halves. It starts with tabby Walter hopping into his owner’s Chevy truck and follows the pair through their adventures in the great outdoors – driving through mountains, desert, and forest; boating; hunting; golfing and more. This part of the ad sets the tone – these are all scenes familiar from decades of truck ads starring rugged All-American men out in the wild with just a faithful truck and faithful dog for company. But here the dog is a cat. It’s a striking and lightly surreal twist on the formula which helps grab attention and lets you know this is a comic ad.

That setting of expectations is what lets the second half of the ad get away with inserting a monologue about the Chevy truck’s capabilities under cover of a corny joke about Walter’s owner misunderstanding a stranger’s amazement. It’s the kind of groan-inducing gag which shouldn’t work but does, because the first, pure branding half of the ad has got us so firmly on its side.

So we have a piece of advertising irony. By tweaking category codes slightly and using a cat instead of a dog, “Walter The Cat” gets permission to follow category codes and boast about the many features the Chevy truck has. Chevy’s commercial performed very well, scoring 4.5-Stars in a category where the average ad is down near 1-Star, and as well as this high long-term potential it can also boast an exceptional short-term Spike score. These are deserved high scores for a lovely bit of craft – a populist but clever ad which still gets its message through.

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Creative agency credit: Commonwealth/McCann