The Super Bowl is the biggest single day in advertising, with companies this year reportedly spending $5.6 million for a 30-second spot during the game. General Motors will start selling a battery-powered Hummer pickup truck in May 2020. To whet the appetite of the truck-driving public, the new Hummer is the topic of a 30-second television ad running during the Super Bowl. Basketball star LeBron James is the star of the Hummer ad, scheduled to air during the second quarter of the 2020 Super Bowl (which is live right now). The ad wasn’t pre-released, but GM snuck in a teaser ahead of the game that emphasized the vehicle’s “quiet revolution.”
“2022 GMC Hummer is Coming Soon — Super Bowl ‘Quiet Revolution'”
The 40-second long, primarily black-and-white commercial starts with loud and discordant jangling of motors and metal. The words “All Electric” appear on the screen. It becomes totally silent, a soundless image. Then two headlamps pierce the darkness. The words “Zero Emissions” become a bridge between the headlamps. Those words fade and are replaced by “Zero Limits.” The grille now appears, and each of the grille grids holds a letter: “H-U-M-M-E-R.”
The wheels and chains are turning again, and with them return the cacophany of a machine shop. “11,500 pound-feet of torque.”
Now it is quiet. The camera peers upward into the skeleton of a factory under construction. A steel girder with an enormous clip welded to it holds a double chain. The sun pierces the scene.
Then the words “will sound like this” appear and a wheel spins in half the frame. The sound that the wheel generates indicates acceleration. “0 to 60 in 3 seconds.” Next, a motorcyclist speeds from left to right in fast sequencing. It is the open road, with engine sound blaring. “Will sound like this.”
Absolute quiet permeates the overhead shot, where the rider crouches in concentration, the bike’s faring glinting in the sun. The road is a blur.
A shot of a dozen brown-hued and white horses galloping and raising dust replaces the motorcyclist. The sound is thunderous as the horses trample the dry soil. “1,000 horsepower.” A snowy mountain scene sets the background now for the stampede, but the absence of sound from these majestic animals is profound, almost eerie, as if acknowledging an impression of silence being abnormal to nature.
“A quiet revolution is coming.” The blue headlamps return, seeing into the darkness. “All-electric.” “Zero emissions.” “Zero limits.” “Hummer.”
“GMSC– HummerEV — See It 5.20.20.”
(Note: there are several other pre-commercial video ads on the GMC YouTube channel, too.)
Meanings, Messages, & Representations for a New Hummer Audience
Symbolism abounds in this Super Bowl Hummer teaser ad. Chaos vs. silence. Speed, with or without engine sound. Light emerging from darkness. Difficulty thinking when surrounded by clanging, suffocating machine sounds. Revving up to a machine frenzy yields readily to total and immersed driver concentration in quiet environs.
The horses move in a group, propelled by danger or at least by forces outside themselves (i.e., fossil fuel industry). “Quiet” is peaceful, focused, still, hushed. The “revolution” will require a complete reorganization of what has been known and accepted as normal — in the auto industry. “Is coming” is a factual statement, an evaluation, an essential assumption that points to the future of the auto industry in which all-electric vehicles will prevail. Indeed, “all-electric?” How can it be that the gas-guzzling behemoth, that civilian version of a Humvee, will no longer burn fossil fuels?
“Zero limits” affirms for skeptics that the vehicle’s original nature will not be altered with the “revolution.” The Hummer will still be the manly vehicle that Arnold Schwarzenegger first purchased in 1992 — sturdy, dependable, bold, and aggressive. With the May 5, 2020, intended release date, Super Bowl fans can look past this night’s bitter winter winds and ice-crusted roadways ahead to a spring adventure with an all-electric Hummer — albeit, now drivers will be able to hear the nature around them as they join the “quiet revolution.”
The Super Bowl teaser “Quiet Revolution” foregrounded the all-electric Hummer’s 1,000-horsepower powertrain, its capacity to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3 seconds, and the quietness consistent with electric vehicles. The ad’s goal is to warm up an audience that grew tired of the Hummer’s gas-guzzling image and GM’s dismay over propping up a network of stand-alone showrooms.
Leo Burnett Detroit created the full ad, which, as mentioned above, was directed for the Super Bowl’s 2nd quarter. The campaign is supported by digital and social components, including a YouTube masthead takeover.
Look for Part 2 of this CleanTechnica Hummer Super Bowl ad analysis, where we turn to see how LeBron James is positioned to pitch the Hummer EV to diehard truck owners who may be hesitant to make the move to battery power.