GMC Goes Pro

Like a rolling stone. Like a rock. Like a G6 (not the Pontiac version). There are many descriptors out there, but GMC feels nothing fits its owners quite like “pro.” The trucks are still Professional Grade (TM), but advertisements are supposed to be all about us, about we, about me.

And so, GMC plans to embark on an advertising campaign calling its owners just that. The all-utility brand’s “Like A Pro” campaign kicks off this month, with a number of tailored TV and online spots showcasing “those who reach higher in everything they do,” according to the automaker.

Marketing efforts are fraught with peril, so no ad counts as a slam dunk until the public gives it a resounding thumbs up or, alternatively, mocks it out of existence. Let’s take a closer look at one of these spots.

“Our owners are dedicated individuals, respected by their peers, whose passion and abilities set them apart,” said Rich Latek, GMC marketing director, in a statement. “Their values reflect our ‘Professional Grade’ spirit and we look forward to bringing that emotional connection to life. And we’re excited to show how we think our customers live their lives like pros.”

“Pro.” Like “boss,” but without the corporate overtones. Who are these people not living their lives like a pro? According to the commercials, they’re normal people who’ll marry your daughter and buy her a crossover, but lack a certain panache.

“How do you want to live?” asks the new commercial for the GMC Sierra. “As a decent person? Not a bad guy? A good friend? Is that it — good? Of course not. King of the hill? Better. Top of your game? Win. All-powerful, like a boss, like a standard bearer, like a pro. We couldn’t agree more. We are Professional Grade. GMC.”

The imagery features a Sierra plying the roadways of what appears to be the West Coast, set against flashes of what the automaker purports to be talking about. A child cuddling a dog. A glasses-wearing man who screams architect (but could just be a lowly — and lonely — programmer) staring out a rain-soaked window. A man standing on a foggy, rugged shoreline, looking out to sea. These are the reliable but lackluster people GMC wants to see driving something else.

As the commercial switches its attention to the “pro” camp, we see a man running through a forest (is he escaping something or pursuing a goal? Both?), another man being approached by a woman on a rooftop patio (she seems magnetically drawn to this tall, dark man — did she see what he drove up in?), and what looks like a high-powered executive gazing upon the proletariat class through his glass office wall, high above the teeming masses. He went somewhere with his life, dammit.

There’s also an older man cradling what must be a blanket-wrapped baby, implying that procreation remains a key part of asserting your dominance.

What’s the verdict here? Well, it’s pretty innocuous and distinctively non-controversial. It’s safe to say GM learned its lesson from the 2014 Cadillac ELR commercial. But is it too innocuous? Will it inspire passion? Inner drive? Pride of ownership? Most people like to think of themselves as a decent person, so GMC risks turning off the less ambitious among us.

Try harder? Screw you, they might say, hurling a turkey breast sandwich made with 12-grain bread at the TV screen.

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