ST. LOUIS — Somebody knocked some sense into Chevrolet before Game 5 of the World Series.
Inconceivably, Chevy was planning on capitalizing on the Boston Marathon terrorist bombings of April 15 that killed three people, injured an estimated 264 and emotionally scarred who knows how many. They were going to do a "televised card stunt" at Game 5 of the World Series at Busch Stadium on Monday night between the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox, coercing fans into holding up colored cards that spelled out "Silverado Strong" (and showed the Major League Baseball logo) when seen from far away.
"Silverado Strong" is a reference to a marketing campaign the auto company started in July. It also references the "Boston Strong" phrase that emerged with the help of social media in the wake of the bombings that's become the city's rallying cry, aside from sports.
Silverado Strong. Boston Strong. Boston Red Sox. Boston Marathon bombings. Boston watching the World Series on TV. Bad idea, or worst idea?
Thankfully, when word began to get out regarding the under-baked promotion, Chevy (and MLB) canceled it and tried to collect the cards, which were taped to seats at strategic points throughout the stadium. They were to be held up after the second inning ended, presumably for a live commercial on Fox TV.
Can you imagine them even thinking of doing this at Fenway Park?
UPDATE: Here's a statement from Michael Albano, Chevrolet spokesperson, who managed to shoehorn a commercial into his explanation of why the stunt was canceled:
“Earlier this year Chevrolet launched the all-new 2014 Silverado. The launch is supported by the campaign, “Strong”, which celebrates the strength of hardworking, honest and dependable men and women. Chevy has carried this theme throughout the 2013 MLB Playoffs and the World Series.
Chevrolet had planned to continue the campaign tonight through an interactive in-stadium promotion. However, following today’s rehearsal we realized there was the possibility that we may offend some of the very fans we were trying to honor, for that reason Chevrolet and MLB decided to cancel the promotion.”
It's bad enough that Chevy would crassly and ham-fistedly try to profit from domestic terrorism with a marketing campaign, even if it might have been in the works before the bombings happened (and that's giving Chevy benefit of the doubt). And some of the meaning behind "Boston Strong" has become fatigued. Even some of the Red Sox players have riffed on the phrase, making workout T-shirts with a little weightlifting guy that say "Boston Strong" on them. Cute, but using it that way is not really appropriate, either.
But to encourage fans to help spell out any kind of "Strong" phrase, with all of its connotations and relationships to Boston, simply shows a shocking lack of judgment and tone deafness. And all for a crummy commercial!
Rigel Parros, a 27-year-old Red Sox fan who studied at Babson College, got outfield seats and noticed what Chevy was planning when he entered his section.
"I feel that there's something morally wrong with profiting from a catastrophe," Parros said. "I understand that the Red Sox also took advantage of that and made it into a brand. At the same time, [what they do] is for a good cause — it's all going to charity. This, I can't help but think it's a little in bad taste. It just feels wrong.
"There's just other ways to get your brand name out there."
Another fan differed. James Bowers, who's from western Massachusetts and came to the game wearing a green Johnny Damon No. 18 jersey, said Chevy simply was doing something "the American way."
"Bringing it up and keeping it front of the American people, it can make everyone realize we're in it together," Bowers said. "And if you don't think we're at war, frickin' wake up."
Bowers has a reasonable viewpoint. But it's better for Chevy and for baseball that they decided against doing this stunt. It would have turned out even more embarrassing for everybody.
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