WHAT: A full-page print ad running in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, The New York Times, the Detroit Free Press, the Los Angeles Times, and USA Today from Chevy to pay tribute to Prince the day after the the recently departed pop icon’s death.
WHO: Commonwealth/McCann for Chevrolet.
WHY WE CARE: Most of the time, when brands engage in the practice of publicly mourning, even the nicer sentiments they express come off as, at best, tone-deaf. Nobody really cares what Hamburger Helper or Cheerios have to say about Prince, and watching these entities that aren’t actually people attempt to engage emotionally has a seriously uncanny valley feel to it. Which is why it was a surprise to find ourselves choked up a bit at this ad from Chevy about Prince’s death. But it makes perfect sense. Prince and Cheerios may not share a connection, but one of Prince’s finer pop moments was 1982’s “Little Red Corvette,” from his seminal album 1999–a song about a fleeting relationship that, like so much in Prince’s discography, took on a new poignance after his death. Where other brands getting in on the mourning felt crass, the manufacturer of the Corvette was able to draw on that existing relationship between their car and Prince’s music to deliver a statement that just felt authentic. The fact that the image doesn’t feature a Chevy logo on it anywhere–just the Corvette iconography that visually tie the image to the song–helps, too. It’s still certainly safer–and often in much better taste–for brands to just let experiences like “grieving” and “sorrow” be experienced solely by the humans they’re attempting to engage with, but when brands cry in a way that’s as tasteful and classy as this ad, we’ll allow it.