I was watching a football game on television with my sons, when a GMC commercial appeared. From a marketing perspective, their “Like a Pro” campaign is well-crafted, and targets its demographic (white-collar, upper-middle-class males) well.
The ad starts with an inspiring musical score, images of dudes in suits going to work, with actor Will Arnett doing the voice-over.
How do you want to live?
As a decent person? A fine human being. Not a bad guy. Always showing up. Getting the job done. As a good father. Friend. Son.
The first time I saw this ad, GMC got my attention. I tell my kids to be a good person. Not to hurt anyone. Be responsible. General motherhood statements, but good advice nonetheless.
I was curious to see what the rest of the ad would bring.
Is that it? Good.
Of course not.
This is where things got interesting. What will be next? Cue rising crescendo in music.
Parent of the year? Better. Employee of the month? Absolutely. Going above and beyond? Check. Making her heart skip a beat—thump. One of a kind, the centre of their world. The linchpin. Undeniable.
Like a boss. Like a rebel. Like a standard-bearer. Like a pro.
We couldn't agree more. We are professional grade. GMC.
On first glance, everything seemed fine. Why wouldn't you want to be the best? I suppose that's the epitome of a professional. It's the image you can project, driving a GMC truck or crossover.
While the ad is well-written and the images and music effective, I believe it perpetuates an unrealistic obsession with perfection, of being the perfect family man, leader, lover. I believe it emphasizes competitiveness over kindness, alpha-dog dominance over the pack.
Like a boss.
While it's awesome to do your best, when media and culture reinforce unrealistic perfection as ideal, it amplifies a chasm that most will never cross.
As long as you know how and why you're being marketed to—that this is simply a commercial to sell trucks, then the ad is harmless, and arguably, inspirational.
But I think it does a disservice to the regular joe who is doing his best to make ends meet, be a good person and live his life to his best, given his circumstances. It sets up an unrealistic standard of perfection, of being the best at everything.
There is a difference between being your best and being the best. A very small percentage will be the best. The rest of us can be armchair quarterbacks or beer league heroes.
But I suppose, if you buy a GMC truck, you can signal to the world that you can be like a boss, like a pro. Even if you aren't.
In the meantime, I'll take being a fine human being, a good father, friend, son—any day.
What do you think of this ad? I'd love to hear your thoughts.