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Chevy Uses Boston’s Emotion — Bad Idea
By: Janet Kalandranis
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Brands are directed and pushed to play on people’s emotions; to connect with them on a deeper level that makes choosing the brand’s product or service a no-brainer. It’s to showcase who the brand is and what it means to customers by showing them “we really get you.” But sometimes brands take this emotion thing a bit too far. They play with certain circumstances that should simply be left alone. 

Although brands want to make that emotional connection with customers, they still must walk the fine line of offending the customer and understanding the customer. So when Chevy decided to latch on to the “Boston Strong” message, customers responded. Negatively. Because Boston Strong has a sacred meaning to these locals. It brings about memories and thoughts of the Boston Marathon bombings, and any brand that is willing to use that connection to sell some cars? Well, they just don’t get it. But don’t worry, customers caught wind of Chevy’s plan and made it their disapproval known. Here’s how it all went down.

Chevy had plans to have Boston attendees hold up signs that said “Silverado Strong” during one of the World Series games. But that plan got cancelled. Because customers, Boston locals, spoke out. They didn’t like a brand using something sacred and important to them as a marketing tool to sell its products. What was Chevy thinking? Sure, the brand was probably trying to make a local relevant connection with people in the stands, but to customers it felt tasteless and wrong. Because Chevy was taking it too far; they picked a topic that was out of bounds and tried to play ball with it. Customers shouted "no." Even though Chevy was trying to make a connection, it picked a topic that was out of reach. Brands need to understand what is appropriate, what customers consider okay, and what is way out of reach.

Brands can work hard to make a connection, but don’t think it always works. Customers are used to standing their ground and speaking out when brands do something that isn’t right. Luckily, in this case Chevy cancelled its plans, although it still has TV spots running with the same idea. Brands can be creative and make that emotional connection, but just make sure it elicits a positive customer response.


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About the Author
Janet Kalandranis is here to give you all the little brand thoughts that run through her head with a little dash of spice. Find her online here.
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