Chevy: Too Many Truck Ads?

Our country is growing weary of "Our Country." The Chevy truck commercials featuring John Mellencamp's melancholy anthem have become so ubiquitous that they're driving sports fans to distraction. ESPN columnist Bill Simmons has made a crusade of lampooning the ads, and his readers are backing him up with postings like this: Mellencamp "needs to go into the witness protection program because I am ready to snap and go OJ on him … for ruining another postseason." Well, the haters had better fire up their TiVos, because the campaign is nowhere near the end of the road. For its second season, Chevy has produced nine new TV spots that are in heavy rotation during NFL and World Series games. "By any measure," says Chevy spokesman Terry Rhadigan, "this campaign has been a success." (That's relative, though: Chevy Silverado sales have been flat over the life of the song—and the overall pickup-truck market is off 2 percent.) Rhadigan says Chevy is aware of the negative buzz but has no plans to throttle back.

Ad pros, though, don't fault Chevy's carpet-bombing campaign. The company used Bob Seger's "Like a Rock" for 11 years, helping drive up truck sales 61 percent. When it comes to building awareness, experts say, nothing succeeds like excess—even at the risk of overkill. "Dinah Shore annoyed a lot of people with 'See the USA in Your Chevrolet'," says ad veteran Al Ries, "but that didn't hurt sales."

What does Mellencamp think? The ad campaign put the singer back on the charts for the first time in a decade, which is nice. But even he's overwhelmed by his overexposure. "He had no idea it would be so intense," says his publicist, Bob Merlis. "But, listen, they have a truck to sell."