This Is Our Country

Seth Stevenson of Slate is pissed off about Chevy’s use of sacred American images to sell their Silverado truck.

This ad makes me very angry. It’s not OK to use images of Rosa Parks, MLK, the Vietnam War, the Katrina disaster, and 9/11 to sell pickup trucks. It’s wrong. These images demand a little reverence and quiet contemplation. They are not meant to be backed with a crappy music track and then mushed together in a glib swirl of emotion tied to a product launch. Please, Chevy, have a modicum of shame next time.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Carl LaFong says:

    I think most sentient beings would find such an artless, ill-conceived amalgamation of national tragedies and revered icons to sell a truck to be off-putting, if not downright offensive.
    And yet, why did Apple’s “Think Different” campaign get a pass when they appropriated the likes of Rosa Parks and Mahatma Gandhi to sell computers?

  2. The times. The spirit. Dare I use German, Zeitgeist?
    I saw the Chevy ad for the first time yesterday. I’ve been hearing the song lots. Being he’s from around the bend, I’ve heard enough about Mellencamp and lots of his music. Some of the interviews with him are the usual and a couple interviews sincere. I can’t help to think that Little Pink Houses was more inspirational. Zeitgeist, again?
    (Oh, and I admit I own the greatest hits CD. Hey, I admit I own the Saturday Night Fever CD/album, too. But so do lots of other people. Check if that was ever an all time best seller and for how long- so I’m not alone.)
    Fact is John was a moving music force and from the heartland. And this effort tries to repeat something, yet fails in sincerity appeal.
    I’m thinking this has to do a bit with some PR Hall of Fame stuff. Think he belongs in there? Blondie is in there.
    And I’m also thinking that this area has become some weird Tristate Bermuda triangle for failure or sabotage. Cincy-Pete Rose. Indy-John Cougar. And wait let me see Louisville-is there some horse that was cursed round here?
    I really think the Apple commercial is cool. Yea, it’s a favorite. And still is.I realize the history of it, though.
    Course, we weren’t all such major cynics back then. What has the times, the government, the media, the internet done to us? What the hell have we done to ourselves?
    I think John’s earlier music was lots better and the commrcial seems forced. At least he deserves a chance at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. I am biased, too. But every time I fight authority I sing that dang song.
    Plus, if U2 can sing that somewhere I should remain a child at heart, I agree with John, that “Growing up leads to growing old and then to dying. And dying to me don’t sound like all that much fun.”

  3. Carl,
    correct the subject verb agreement in that one sentence… will ya? the spelling and typos and commas, too.
    I swam too many laps too hard tonight and the hands are just too tired for this typing job tonight.

  4. There’s nothing sacred or iconic — as opposed to pc — about those images to me. The Rosa Parks photo was staged. MLK, who is no hero to me, was giving a speech in which at one point he demanded out of one side of his mouth (and soon thereafter got) racial reparations, while at another point, out of the other side of his mouth, demanded that whites ignore blacks’ race. (Besides, using MLK sights and sounds is a straight business transaction, in which one pays King’s cut-throat heirs whatever they are squeezing people for at the moment.) The images from “the Vietnam War” aren’t of our boys and their sacrifices, but of spoiled anti-war protesters.
    “Reverence”? Forget about it.
    “Quiet contemplation”? I’ve spent half my life thinking about such matters.
    “This is our country”? It ain’t my country, and it ain’t the country of the people Chevy expects to buy their trucks. If Chevy relied on blacks and anti-war protesters to buy Silverados, it would go out of business faster than you can say “offshoring.”

  5. hey, if we have two sides to our mouth we should use them
    at the same time: duo tasking.

  6. As I was watching the Met game, the Our Country song came on the TV, I looked up, it was nice, and I saw iconic images of life that I grew up in, I am a New Yorker, so seeing the Sept. 11th image made my heart leap, I have been to New Orleans after the Hurricane…I thought, this must be a fundraiser or just a loving message from a not for profit organization, but NO, it was to sell a truck. I was sick, disgusted and offended. How dare Chevy use these images, the pain and suffering to sell their product. These images should be protected from exploitation from ANY commercial service whatsoever.

  7. I have a little different perspective: I see as many positive, nostalgic images of the United States as I do those that recall some of the nation’s darkest moments. It’s those images, not the warm ‘n fuzzy nostalgia, that evoke the more powerful response. I would even say rightfully so. Now take the collective whole of the images in the ad back to the tune: Like it or not, “…this is our country…” We’re not in Kansas anymore. The commercial, however commercial, does a good job of capturing the social conscience…we know we’re not unblemished. We do know we’re very proud.