General Motors is one of the biggest automotive companies out there, right alongside Ford. The brand implemented one of the most successful ad campaigns for its Chevrolet pickups ever seen in the last few decades. By partnering with a celebrity singer, Bob Seger, GM launched its iconic “Like a Rock” marketing stint.
Let’s briefly look at Seger’s musical career and how working at a GM and Ford plant influenced his songs.
Bob Seger’s musical career
On May 6, 1945, Robert Clark Seger was born in Dearborn, Michigan. In the 1970s and 1980s, he became a famous singer and songwriter, creating music around the midwest area where he was from. In 1974, he put a band together known as the Silver Bullet Band.
According to Britannica, he released a few successful albums with this band, including Live Bullet, which came out in 1976. The same year saw the release of his Night Moves album as well. Then in 1980, we saw his Against the Wind record hit stores. Six years later, another album hit the charts, and it was his most popular one, Like the Rock.
During his band career, he released several songs. Some of them included “The Distance,” “Stranger in town,” “Against the Wind,” and “Night Moves.” He went on his last public tour in 2018, but his music continues to inspire others.
How the music of the time influenced Bob Seger’s songwriting
Bob Seger grew up with the Soul and Rhythm & Blues musical genres, which impacted how he wrote his own music. He began to make a name for himself, albeit slowly, by using the Midwestern working class as an inspiration for the lyrics he wrote. Seger himself was no stranger to work, either.
During his teen years, he spent long hours playing with a few different teen bands gaining experience for the career that would surface years later. To make a living, though, he needed a job, and one of them was inspired by his father. His dad worked at a Ford plant for approximately 19 years, and he also got a job there. Seger was on the line installing windshields, according to an old NPR interview.
His job at Ford didn’t last longer than 10 days because he complained about his hands getting cut up by attaching the rubber around the windshield glass. He decided to leave when the company refused to transfer him into another position. After that, he went to a GM plant and was hired as a conveyor loader. That job didn’t last long either.
His stints at the automotive plants kept him rooted in the working-class life, which is why his music was so well-liked by others. In 1986, he released his song, “Like a Rock,” on an album with the same name. It was a song he was pretty proud of, and people he knew also loved it. This very same song changed things for him a few years later.
How “Like a Rock” became a GM ad campaign
Over the years, Bob Seger was asked by many companies to use one of his songs in ads, and he always declined to do so. General Motors was one of them. The company wanted to use the song “Like a Rock” in an ad campaign for its Chevrolet brand and asked him several times to use it, according to the Ultimate Classic Rock.
He said no to GM every time, except once. A fan that worked at an automotive plant came up to him and asked why he didn’t do anything for the auto industry with a commercial or something.
That got Seger’s attention, and he gave in and let GM use the song in its ads for Chevy pic ups. He later said that he never regretted it either. It sold many Chevy trucks that were unforgettable for their stacked headlights and iconic grille design.
Those sales kept many people working at their jobs and earning a living for a long time. Other celebrities have purchased a Chevy truck as their daily drivers. Brad Paisley, Luke Bryan, Thomas Rhett, and Chase Rice all drove a Silverado at one point since the ad campaign ended.
Bob Seger has had a decent career as a singer/songwriter, inspired by his love of music and his roots in the American working class. Who would’ve thought that his short stint with GM would later become a partner in an ad campaign with one of the songs he was the proudest of. Additionally, one of his favorite vehicles continues to be a GM Typhoon SUV.