On a perfect California day with The 46th Annual NAACP Image Awards as the backdrop, General Motors Director, Regional, Grassroots and Diversity Communications; Director, Diversity Marketing and Communications Center of Excellence (aka TheExecuDiva), Jocelyn Allen and Spike Lee talked to a select group of journalists about his partnership with Chevy and the success of Spike DDB.
Just the mention of Spike Lee’s name conjures up images of cinematic gold. Fetes that garnered Lee the President’s Award at this year’s NAACP Image Awards. From his trademark “gliding” scenes through the Burroughs of NYC with Denzel Washington to the haunting scores composed by his constant contributors Bill Lee (his father) and Terrance Blanchard, Lee’s body of work speaks to the culture…just as the Chevy brand does.
Outspoken and unapologetic, Lee has never held his tongue or his lens back when he takes on a project and Little League Superstar Mo’ne Davis is no exception. The “Chevy: Throw Like A Girl” campaign created by Lee’s Spike DDB ad agency shatters the misogynistic myth of what throwing ‘like a girl’ really means. Much like Chevy, Lee’s vision taps into the very heart and soul of the American dream.
While Lee’s initial dream concept was to have Mo’ne Davis strike out all of Philly’s iconic sports heroes (Dr. J, Moses Malone, etc.) and native comedian Kevin Hart, Lee laughingly came back to his ‘natural self’’ and realized all he needed was Mo’ne. Lee’s focus on ‘America’s Darling’–the 70-mph pitcher, soccer and basketball player proved to be one of the most powerful statements on female empowerment to grace small screen.
As the saying goes, Chevy is as American as baseball and apple pie and the fit was natural. Chevy as a supporter of the World Series and the Lee lensed commercial would be the perfect collaboration. “I have to thank Paul Edwards at Chevrolet [Vice President of Marketing],” says Lee. “In the branded content piece you see the ‘car’, but in the World Series ad — no car, 60 seconds, a 14 year-old Black girl from South Philly — Chevy says ‘this’ is who we are. That’s major and I don’t think its ever been done before. No car? She can’t even drive! That was major love, not only to Spike, DDB and the African American community; but also to America in general. This was the only spot Chevy ran for the whole World Series, that’s huge!”
Always one to keep it 100, Lee does not shy away from speaking the truth about how Black folks have to constantly justify ‘their’ existence. “Chevy is an institution and Black folks buy Chevys. As you know, it’s becoming more difficult for African-American to get that dollar and being steamrolled by the Hispanic market…it’s a challenge,” says Lee.
When asked motivated him to partner with Chevy, he responded in true Spike form with ‘I was trying to stay in business, let’s keep it 100!’
Lee is doing more than just ‘keeping the lights on and making payroll’. His agency, in its 18th year also represents Cadillac, Nike, produced brand marketing for NFL players and will be inducted in the National Hall of Fame of Advertisers this April.
As we closed, the group migrated outside where a bevy of Chevy products were on display including a candy apple red 2015 Chevy Stingray blazing in the sun. As he admired the lines of the classic stunner, The Car Diva had to ask Spike if he had any design ideas. With a smirk and wink, Spike replied, ‘hell yeah!’
(Photos by Kenny Rodriguez for Chevrolet)
Check out Spike Lee and Chevy’s “Throw Like A Girl” extended brand marketing campaign below.
A Spike Lee Joint