How Mo’ne Davis Won the World Series for Chevrolet

Today we bring you a guest post by William Nikosey, senior account director at kwittken+company.

If it were the day after the Super Bowl, you might expect the conversation to be focused on the commercials. But it’s not. It’s the day after the second game of the World Series — not typically an event at which advertising steals the show.

However, that is exactly what Chevrolet did on Tuesday night. Without 111 million fans watching or Super Bowl-like budgets, Chevy managed to turn its 60-second spot during Game 1 of the World Series into a national conversation.

Here’s the ad:

The way they used it was brilliant.

We’ve seen similar things happen every February, but under much different circumstances. A few lucky smart brands are able to hijack the national conversation at the proverbial water cooler in the days following the NFL’s big game. Take Oreo for example. In 2013, Oreo made “real-time marketing” a thing when they let us know that we can still “dunk in the dark” while the lights were out on Super Bowl XLVII. It was quick, clever and cheap, but it fell short when it came to driving meaningful conversation.

Chevy, on the other hand, put on a clinic this week by both showing us that there is more than one way to extend the shelf life of an ad past 30 or 60 seconds and, if you’re lucky, a few million YouTube views and demonstrating how the right paid media can quickly facilitate an earned media conversation.

Let’s not be so quick to name Spike Lee the MVP for directing the spot. Chevy’s marketing team executed a brilliant, content-driven game plan that allowed them to elevate the brand without ever showing a single car.

Mo’ne Davis Represents More Than Just Baseball 

Over and over again, and very recently, sports fans have been let down by athletes that were undeservingly held in high esteem. Mo’ne Davis is not one of those athletes. Her youth and her fearlessness are inspiring to young kids (both boys and girls), but also their parents who try so hard to instill confidence in their children at an early age. While Davis is far too young to realize it, and certainly not actively seeking it, her presence and accomplishments at such a young age make her a role model to many.

The TV Screen Was Just the Beginning

The 60-second ad that ran during Tuesday night’s broadcast was just a taste of the content produced by Chevy featuring the 13-year-old Mo’ne Davis — the commercial was an abridged version of a sixteen-minute documentary written and directed by Lee and produced exclusively for Chevrolet. The expanded content drove World Series’ viewers to their phones, tablets and laptops during and after the game for even deeper engagement and the ability to share the emotionally driven film with their social networks.

Welcomed and Expected Controversy

Not only did the NCAA alter its eligibility rules so that Davis could appear in the commercial, the group stood by with a statement at the ready when it aired.  Knowing how rare it is for a week to go by without hearing news reports of college athletes accepting payment for autographs or hearing debates about the ethics of not allowing student athletes to be paid for their services, it is safe to assume that Chevy was well aware of the controversy the commercial would stir — and that controversy was certainly welcomed.

It is doubtful that Chevy has a position on NCAA eligibility rules and, in fact, it is most likely a topic that they want to stay far away from. However, having the stomach to tolerate the controversy that comes along with paying a 13-year old athlete to appear in a commercial makes them deserving of the extra “mind share” that came along with it.

We should all tip our hats to Chevy for such a brilliant execution and beautifully produced content. It was a treat for all viewers and a great lesson for marketers.