Upgrade Your 2020 With the Newest Internet Challenge

A GMC SUV is parked with Ciara, Level Up, Tide Pods, marshmallows, and a man with a selfie-stick in front of it.

As a general rule, GMC’s marketing initiatives feel like a bit of a crapshoot. Think about it. In fact, let’s put a question out there for the non-GMC loyalists: when was the last time you remember seeing a GMC television spot? If you’re among the minority who can actually summon that memory, did the commercial actually make an impression? In viewing it, did you find yourself compelled to jump brands on your next automotive purchase? Suffice it to say that most of your answers will probably fall into “hmmm,” “not that I remember,” and “f*ck no” territory. Well, it appears that GMC aims to change all that with update campaigns that are not only designed to grab attention but sidestep traditional marketing to embrace the power of social media and push the sales of more GMC SUVs.

Regardless of any divide that might currently exist between the generational bookends that we call Boomers and Zoomers, most of us share a collective understanding of certain social media phenomenon. Take the oft-lamented ‘Tide Pod Challenge’ for example. Whether you were among its younger participants or its confused elder critics, the challenge to bite into the dissolvable detergent-filled gel packs certainly caught people’s attention. Of course, this is an example of one of the more frivolous viral challenges. It joins the likes of the ‘Chubby Bunny Challenge, ’ which challenged participants to stuff their mouth with oversized marshmallows, seeing how many they could fit while still being able to pronounce the phrase, ‘Chubby Bunny.’ This challenge, of course, proved little aside from (i) the lesson that fat kids are more commonly made than they are born, and (ii) what will someday be looked back upon as the conception of Type VII Diabetes. Potentially harmful, these are similar to the ‘Kylie Lip Challenge,’ which inspired participants to create suction between their lips and a shot glass, to emulate the pouty (albeit cosmetically-enhanced) lips of Kylie Jenner.

But not all internet challenges are stupid and harmful. Some, like the ‘Mannequin Challenge,’ were stupid and kind of artistic. Others, like the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge,’ were stupid and shed light on important topics. Then, there’s the ‘Bottle Flip Challenge’ which…well…I think we can all agree was stupid and also annoying. But whether we’re talking about the ‘Harlem Shake’ or ‘Level Up,’ there are two things that are probably for certain: internet challenges seem to unite people under a common goal, and probably aren’t going anywhere in 2020. In fact, it appears that GMC is banking on this by launching a new interactive challenge that they hope will go viral in the new year, kicking off the upcoming decade in style.

As stated by General Motors’ Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Wahl, “A new year, a new decade and a new era for the automotive industry are nearly upon us. Of course, this milestone introduces the expectation of new products, new ideas, and new strategies that are designed to propel General Motors forward in the minds of consumers of all ages. And with emerging Gen-Z consumers taking their first steps into the new car marketplace, GMC faces the challenging of embracing new cultural trends while celebrating what makes our brand unique.”

While Wahl’s comments paint some pretty broad strokes, it appears that GMC is planning to launch a social media challenge of their own, one that intends to emphasize the aspirational nature of the GMC brand.

“High atop the celebrated GMC lineup rests the Denali, a name which represents the highest possible echelon of quality and luxury. In 2020, we’ll proudly challenge all of America to ‘Level Up’ by doing whatever it takes to make 2020 a better year than 2019 was, and posting a video to tell us about it. For some, that will inevitably be a decision to purchase one of our GMC SUVs in the Denali trim level. For everyone else, who knows what it will mean to ‘Level Up.’ We’re just as excited as you are to see what happens when people start posting their ‘Level Up Challenge’ videos across social media platforms.

And a recent trademark filing with the USPTO indicates the automaker’s intent to gain tending traction by trademarking the following hashtags: #Denali2020 #LevelUp2020 and #LevelUpDenali. However, it appears that an established social media trendsetter might be taking issue with GMC’s plans.

As mentioned earlier, the ‘Level Up Challenge’ dates back to the middle of 2018 when pop star Ciara empowered her fans everywhere, challenging them to embrace the best version of themselves by taking this fire track and using it as the basis for their own dance videos.

And according to insider sources at Epic Records (Ciara’s label), not everyone is thrilled about a perceived overlap between their ‘Level Up Challenge’ and that being proposed by GM. One high-level Epic Records employee voiced their criticism by stating, “The intention shared by Ciara and Epic Records, was to encourage personal empowerment. It’s clear that GMC only wants to sell more SUVs to people who are too cheap to spring for an Escalade.”

The Lemon reached out to Ciara for a comment. She respectfully declined, due in part to pending litigation regarding GMC’s use of the hashtag but primarily to the fact that she was just too busy being fine as hell.


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