A red Chevy truck packed with five young men roars down the mountainous countryside as Shania Twain's "Man, I Feel Like a Woman" plays. Then the center man in the back seat starts singing along with Shania, serenading his friends with an off-key rendition of the song.
The others are unappreciative, especially when he squeaks out a line that begins with, "the best thing about being a woman." The driver and front-seat passenger exchange wry glances, shifting in their seats. Another in the backseat, with his brow furrowed, stares out the window in despair. On the other side of our singer, his buddy moves his leg away from the singer's, who is still toe-tapping. The front-seat passenger bites his lip, closes his eyes, and leans back against the headrest.
The narrator says, "If you're ever uncomfortable in a new Chevy Colorado coupe cab, it won't be because a lack of space."
He concludes with an enthusiastic, "Man, I feel like a woman," adding a "Whoo!" at the end for good measure. The driver throws another uncomfortable look toward the backseat.
The car continues down the road as a voiceover tells viewers that "Everything's bigger in Colorado" as the words "An American Revolution" appear onscreen, along with the Chevrolet logo.
The effort is quite a step away from the macho "Like a Rock" campaign that used Bob Seger's song.
The ad got mixed reviews from Advertising Age
critic Bob Garfield, who called it "kinda cute and kinda homophobic."
This commercial could have been just as funny if it had stuck to the "bad singer" joke, something one of the men in the back seat clearly displays on his pained face. Instead, the ad emphasizes for humor more the homophobic fears the men have (moving a leg away and uncomfortable looks) based simply on the words of the song he sings all too enthusiastically.
The company thought better of the commercial and later modified the narration to remove the reference to being "uncomfortable."
This commercial was selected for the Clean-Up-Your-Act Award at the Commercial Closet 2005 IMAGES IN ADVERTISING AWARDS. In response, Brenda Rios, Manager of Diversity Communications for General Motors, provided this statement, "Chevrolet makes a broad range of products that appeal to an extensive, diverse customer base, from Aveo and Cobalt small cars to SUVs and full-size trucks. Our advertising is intended to capture the imagination of potential customers in a fun, engaging manner. It is never our intention of offend any customer demographic. This particular ad was developed more than a year ago and is no longer airing. As GM explores opportunities to market directly to GLBT customers, we are working to develop better insights into this buyer group. One method for doing so is through GM PLUS, an internal GLBT employee affinity group."
In 2002-2003, Chevrolet earned press for becoming title sponsor of an evangelical Christian music and worship tour to 16 cities called "Come Together and Worship." One of the speakers was Max Lucado, with Focus on the Family.
Balrog , Los Angeles, CA
This commercial is anti-white. A white guy is in the backseat of the SUV singing along to some Shania Twain song, "Feels Like a Woman" or something. This is meant to show that the white guy is a wussy singing to chick music.
Guy Bertrand , Montréal, Québec, Canada
What is so terrible about this ad? The only guy who doesn't look bad is the singing one on the backseat who, by the way, may not be gay at all. This young man seems to enjoy life and looks like he has no complex at all. The other four, on the other hand, may be perceived as a bunch of homophobic morons. They are the ones who look bad in this ad, not the guy who sings. In conclusion, this ad proves two things: uneducated idiots come in many colours and everything's bigger in Colorado, including homophobia!
Terry , Battle Ground, WA
Does anyone have balance anymore? Holy crap, to pick apart this hilarious ad over this assumed "homophobic" attitude is pure ignorance. I simply don't agree that it even displays a homophobic attitude, the singer is just weirding out and we, as his friends, WOULD MOVE AWAY, if only to give him the not-so-suble message that he's out of control. As a man, who HAS ridden with a crew in trucks, and with buddies in trucks, I can assure you that nothing displayed would not actually occur. I'm thrilled that Chevy paid enough attention to recognize it and point it out. In truth, if Chevy would have "skipped" the "moving away from" the "freak," then the viewer would have wondered why Chevy was trying to normalize this behaviour.
Vanessa , Columbus, Ohio
I do think this ad is funny. The only part I thought they could have omitted is the one backseat passenger moving his knee away. That does establish the "kinda homophobic" angle.
Jia , Seattle, Washington
I actually enjoyed this commercial. This has no bias towards anyone of any ethnicity as you can see a multicultural group, including another "white guy" in the back who's actually one of the guys cringing at the singer. This ad can't possibly be excluding white males. The only reasonable explanation of why the "girly" singer is caucasian is because there would probably be more complaints about racism in a commercial like this. Yeah, it can be a double-standard but then again, when is the world ever fair? Perhaps homophobia can come into play, but that can't be proven with substantial evidence. The reactions among the individuals in this ad show typical responses of those towards anyone that sings so (poorly). Anyway, that's just my opinion.
Jacob , Fraser, Colorado
First of all, I drive a crew cab every day (in Colorado, no less!) and find this ad insulting and very distasteful. Isn't it interesting that, within the same week Commercial Closet debuted TWO ads demonstrating extra room in a vehicle? "Space," an ad for the Mini Cooper, is clever and effectively highlights a selling point - extra room. By comparing "My man" to "Space," it is clear that Chevy could have created an effective ad without putting anyone down.
And when was the last time you saw a racial minority in an American truck ad, let alone two? The inclusion of the Asian and black guys makes me skeptical when Chevy claims they were unaware of any offensive material. The addition of these guys clearly looks to me like a cheap cover up.
I am tired of "diversity" only applying to race and I am sick of racial diversity being used a justification for homophobic or gender-phobic jokes.
That's right, I said gender-phobic. I don't see any homophobia in this ad. I agree with Mr. Wilke, as quoted by the New York Times, that the passengers‚ discomfort/disgust stems from the content of the song. I disagree with Mr. Wilke in that the ad implies questions about the singer's sexuality. Is anyone listening to the song? To me, the ad clearly implies questions about the singer's gender identity, but says nothing about his sexuality.
Ultimately, what if the threesome had chosen a Chevy Colorado instead of a Mini Cooper for their romantic escapade? Wouldn't the guy (clearly the target for a truck ad) be that much more of a stud? After looking straight down out the window of my truck at a Mini today, I sure think so!
Al , Oakland, CA
Tasteless advertising. In this day and age I find the homophobic nature of the commercial inappropriate.
Ray , Dallas
This advertisement is awful. The entire commercial could have been pulled off without a hitch if they hadn't put in the "homophobic" moving of the leg. Is it really necessary?
Christopher Snow , Providence, RI
The comments posted by Guy Betrand of Montreal seem to mirror my feelings about this commercial completely! I don't take any offense to this commercial -- it's funny -- and I applaud the confidence and silliness of the backseat singer. It's the other guys who look like miserable losers.
Stephen , San Francisco
Three men of color, including an Asian, and two white men. A pretty unusual demographic outside people-of-color focused ads. Shows how far we've come on public representations of race. But sometimes this acts as cover for homophobia, a la Damon Wayans. It's funny, I'll grant, but leaves me feeling uncomfortable. And the poor singing is another layer of cover.
Steve Hoffmann , Chicago
Loved this commercial.
K. C. , Chico, CA
Okay enough, obviously the guys in the truck are moving away and cringing because they think his behavior is "gay." Still, I like this commercial because the singer doesn't give a crap what the other guys think. And lastly (sorry but I really have to put this in) to those who said that the guy is "weirding out" and that we would move away too, I have to wonder if you ever sing with the radio and call it 'weirding out.' It's okay, it's perfectly normal behavior and even fun! It doesn't mean that you're "out of control"--it just means that you like a song.
Robbie , Toronto, ONT, Canada
When I read comments that vehemently deny the existence of any homophobia in this ad, it saddens me. But when people desperately try to turn the issue around and suggest white persecution, it scares me. Those sentiments spell only one thing: backlash. It proves how necessary having an advocate like the Commercial Closet really is. Sure, the commercial is cute and clever but let's not be naïve--this television spot mocks men who don't conform to gender roles. Don't think so? Consider the following. First of all, this ad chooses to have an all-male cast. If the humour were solely about bad signing, wouldn't a female passenger react in the same way? Secondly, although the singer is no Pavarotti he's not that bad either. He's not comically off-pitch or screechy or annoying, he's really just a regular guy. Thirdly, and most telling, is the choice of song used in this commercial. There are any number of "macho" songs that this singer could have crooned off-key, yet the ad doesn't use any of those, instead we hear him sing a song that celebrates being a woman. What's more, he's really, really into it. He doesn't change or omit any lyrics, no, he sings every word, as if he were Shania. Big no-no. In a culture that overvalues heterosexual men and devalues women, a man who surrenders his masculinity (like we gay men supposedly do) is committing "gender treason." For that transgression he becomes a threat and is isolated, much like the boy who likes ballet or the one who can't throw a softball. Gender transgression is what makes the guys in the car uncomfortable, and presumably why they will leave the singer's dead body by the side of the road. After all, the only thing worse than being trapped in a confined space with a bad singer is being trapped with a bad singer who's a fag, right guys?
KL , Eugene, OR
After reading these comments, it seems clear that our original thought forms strongly influence the way we veiw this commercial. As a singer myself, I thought the bad singer in the back seat was cute and unihibited, and his friends seemed uptight and judgemental. The moving knee did seem to add a homophobic element, but as I was identifying with the singer, it appeared to highlight that the other guys were just plain uptight. This was one commercial I actually un-muted because I enjoyed the singing guy so much.
E.S. Kim , Philadelphia, PA
I thought this commercial was hilarious. To say that this ad is homophobic is wrong. The man is comfortable enough with his sexuality to be able to sing such a song by Shania Twain. His buddies are embarrassed but that doesn't necessarily mean that they are homophobic. I would inch away from a friend who was embarrassing me, and I am not homophobic at all. The guy is singing at the top of his lungs That's what's funny!
Bob , Detroit, MI
As someone who used to do truck ads, I can tell you that this work was refreshing from the typical truck ads I've seen. And I can tell you it was the homophobes in my office who derided this ad for daring to suggest a man would enjoy Shania Twain. As for the guy who thinks it is "wussy" to listen to country music, maybe he needs to get out of New York and realize that millions of us love country music and we don't give a flying f--- about American Idol.
Lisa , Courtice, Ontario, Canada
What's so offensive about this commercial? I think this commercial is so funny and it made my day. I can't even sing Man I Feel Like A Woman without even laughing because I think of the guy who's singing this song.