When you hear someone mention Chevy SUVs, what do you think of?
Reliability? Wide-range of available technologies? Nicely-tiered trim levels? Would Freddie Prinze, Jr like it?
If you’re an automotive enthusiast, you’ve probably either attended or have viewed footage from an automaker’s model year press conference, at some point. Staged and lit with all the pageantry of a Hollywood awards show (or at least a 1987 Duran Duran concert) these productions are intended to add more impact to the reveal of a new model offering, dramatically emphasizing upgrades and/or facelifts that it might have received.
Often, the reveal is preceded by heavily-produced video content which is projected across massive screens that run the width of the vast stage. Synchronized with pulse-pounding music, the video often incorporates ambiguously-lit angled shots, intended to wet the viewer’s palate without revealing too much. Engine sounds purr and rev, playing upon the primal relationship between car and driver, as vehicle specs either flash across the screen in dynamic text or are whispered seductively by a female narrator with an intriguing accent. And just as the viewer is captivated by the thought of what’s to come, the stage goes silent and black, accelerating the anticipation to unbearable levels.
Psychologists have studied this technique to determine the nature of its effectiveness. Ultimately, it’s been determined that there is no greater means of creating excitement about something for which there was no pre-existing excitement. Unofficially referred to as the “All That Phenomenon” it has been likened to a key scene in the 1999 teen romantic comedy “She’s All That” where the allegedly unappealing Laney Boggs receives a makeover, and suddenly finds herself irresistible to Freddie Prinze, Jr. during a dramatic staircase descent.
“The technique holds a vastly powerful anticipatory effect,” explains Nadya Nuthertine-M’Vay, Chevy’s Director of Multimedia Staging. “Which is why we’ve decided to embrace it in a sense of nostalgic fun. Statistically speaking, the majority of Chevy SUV customers are women between the ages of 28 and 45. This means that they ranged in age from 9 to 27 when “She’s All That” was released in 1999, making them a key demographic for the film’s modern retelling of Pygmalion. Our redesigned offerings will speak for themselves but, by orchestrating a reveal that mirrors one of the most recognizable sequences in modern film, we are positioning the vehicles for a more enthusiastic embrace.”
We attended the reveal, where the traditional stage-wide array of screens had been replaced with a giant stairwell. The panels behind it were strategically designed to emulate the lower-middle class living room of a pool cleaning widower, father of two.
Softly, the speakers began to purr the strummed acoustic intro to “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer.
A spotlight revealed none other than semi-retired actor Freddie Prinze Jr., now 42-years old, sitting on a rather unremarkable sofa, sipping a drink that may (or may not) have been a Margarita. While the effect felt incomplete without Kieran Culkin, one must not forget that the latter actually has a successful acting career and was likely unavailable.
From the darkness stepped a diminutive female shape who, in the spotlight, was recognizable as actress Anna Paquin, reprising her ‘She’s All That’ role as Mackenzie, the makeover artist.
“Gentlemen,” she said. “May I present…the new…not ‘improved’, but ‘different’…Chevy SUV lineup!”
And suddenly, as the song’s chorus could be heard, a Red Hot Chevy Trax began to make its way cautiously down the massive staircase. As the crowd cheered, an Equinox sporting the Cajun Red tint coat began to make an equally measured descent down the stairwell, receiving equal enthusiasm from the onlookers. Just as the front wheel of a matching Traverse could be seen tackling the top step, the Equinox revved, slamming into the Trax and pushing it off the staircase, careening into the couch and climbing over the ragdoll body of former teen-star Freddie Prinze, Jr.
We have yet to receive any reports on Mr. Prinze, Jr’s medical condition, but who knows? Maybe it was supposed to happen that way, but Freddie just couldn’t catch the runaway vehicle as easily as he could catch Rachel Leigh Cook, when she stumbled on that last step, two decades ago