Walter the Chevy Cat Becomes an Unlikely Star of the Olympics

Fab feline steals the show for Silverado

With Walter the cat for a best friend, who needs a dog?

Said feline shines in this amusing Chevrolet spot running on the Olympics, chasing other cats up a tree, playing with tennis balls and herding cows to hype the Silverado's new multi-flex tailgate:

2021 Chevy Silverado – Cat | Chevrolet

Though goofy, Walter's pooch impression never gets too cartoonish or over-the-top in that :60, part of a broader campaign from Commonwealth/McCann.

Ultimately, Walter dives off a pier to fetch a stick, and the ensuing exchange between his owner and another angler is priceless:

Angler: That is incredible.

Owner: I know, right? It's a multi-flex tailgate. It can be a step, you can extend the bed, it can even become a workspace.

Angler: I meant the cat.

Owner: What's so great about him? He doesn't have a workspace—he's a cat.

Ha! Who says Fido's more fun? (That would be Milk Bone, actually.)

"There are certain ingredients in a lot of truck commercials: a man, a truck and a dog. We wanted to disrupt that formula," Commonwealth/McCann North America creative lead Gary Pascoe tells Muse. "The Chevy Multi-Flex Tailgate is a surprising truck feature, so we wanted to dramatize that by doing something surprising as well."

Another surprise: Henry McClintock's folksy "Big Rock Candy Mountain" from 1928 on the soundtrack. Rarely heard these days (it played over the opening credits in O Brother, Where Art Thou? back in 2000), the ironic tale of a drifter's quest for paradise really enhances Walter's adventures, though I'm not sure why it works so well.

O Positive's Jim Jenkins directed "Cat" and the spot below, in which Walter doesn't appear. Instead, a suburban dad mad-flexes about Silverado's snazzy tailgate option:

2021 Chevy Silverado — Flex | Chevrolet

There's also a commercial touting Chevy Equinox safety technology. Directed by Hungry Man's Bryan Buckley, it shows a teen annihilating virtual vehicles in a video game:

Equinox Video Game | Chevrolet

Those were cute, too. But will the cat come back? Viewers have been clamoring for sequels on social and in YouTube comments. (Jan. 31, 2022 UPDATE: Walter returns, more doglike than ever.)

"I have a cat at home named Ralphie. He is NOT the inspiration [for Walter]," Pascoe says. "He's mean, bites visitors and sleeps all day."

So, commercials don't resemble real-life? Hissss!

The spots are airing throughout the Tokyo Olympics on NBC networks, with a range of social and digital extensions.

"We knew a lot of advertisers were going to feature athletes doing incredible things, and we wanted to stand out," Pascoe says. "So, Walter the cat became our athlete."

Jenkins shot the :60 on a private 100,000-acre ranch in Utah, with nine trained look-alike tabbys on set. (That's 81 lives! But no animals were hurt, yadda yadda.)

"The cats had their own air-conditioned trailer, the agency creative team did not," Pasco says. "Each cat had a specific unique ability: jumping into a truck, busting through a door, coming out of water. The real cats performed so well, we ended up using very little CGI."

CREDITS

—Silverado "Cat"
Agency: Commonwealth/McCann
Chief Creative Officer, North America: Gary Pascoe
Executive Creative Director: Duffy Patten
Executive Creative Director: Bob Guisgand
Creative Director: Gary Wise  
Director of Broadcast Production: Paul Renusch
Executive Producer: Kelly Balagna  
Senior Producer: Adam VanDyke
Senior Producer: Vanessa Smith  
Group Account Director: Bill Wilt
Account Supervisor: Amanda Collier

Production Company: O Positive
Director: Jim Jenkins
Executive Producer, O Positive: Marc Grill    
Editor, Mackcut: Gavin Cutler  
Assistant Editor, Mackcut: Megan Heard
Executive Producer, Mackcut: Gina Pagano
ECD VFX Supervisor, The Mill: Nathan Kane
ECD CG VFX Supervisor, The Mill: James Muholand
2D Lead Compositor, The Mill: Keith Sullivan
Executive Producer, The Mill: Heath Raymond
Sound Design/Audio Mix, LIME: Rohan Young
Audio Mix, LIME: Loren Silber
Executive Producer, LIME: Susie Boyajan
Colorist, MPC: Mark Gethin
Sr. Executive Producer, MPC: Meghan Lang Bice
Producer, MPC: Caitlin Forrest

—Silverado "Flex"
Agency: Commonwealth/McCann
Chief Creative Officer, North America: Gary Pascoe
Executive Creative Director: Duffy Patten
Executive Creative Director: Bob Guisgand
Creative Director: Vic Quattrin
Creative Director: Kamil Kowalczyk
Director of Broadcast Production: Paul Renusch
Executive Producer: Kelly Balagna
Senior Producer: Adam VanDyke
Senior Producer: Vanessa Smith  
Group Account Director: Bill Wilt
Account Supervisor: Amanda Collier

Production Company: O Positive
Director: Jim Jenkins
Executive Producer, O Positive: Marc Grill  
Editor, Mackcut: Gavin Cutler  
Assistant Editor, Mackcut: Megan Heard
Executive Producer, Mackcut: Gina Pagano

ECD VFX Supervisor, The Mill: Nathan Kane
ECD CG VFX Supervisor, The Mill: James Muholand

Sound Design/Audio Mix, LIME: Rohan Young
Audio Mix, LIME: Loren Silber

Colorist, MPC: Mark Gethin
Colorist, MPC: Kristopher Smale

—Equinox "Video Game"
Agency: Commonwealth/McCann
Chief Creative Officer, North America: Gary Pascoe
Executive Creative Director: Duffy Patten
Executive Creative Director: Bob Guisgand
Creative Director: Gary Wise
Associate Creative Director: Scott Lenfestey
Director of Broadcast Production: Paul Renusch
Executive Producer: Kelly Balagna
Senior Producer: Rob Van
Group Account Director: Kalyn Barnum
Account Supervisor: Chris Skalsky

Production Company: Hungry Man
Director: Bryan Buckley
Cinematographer: Jess Hall
Executive Producer, Hungry Man: Mino Jarjoura  

Editor, Exile: Grant Surmi  
Assistant Editor, Exile: Eliza Kanter
Executive Producer, Exile: CL Kumpata

VFX Supervisor, MPC: Benji Davidson
Executive Producer, MPC: Karena Ajamian

Sound Design/Audio Mix, Eleven: Jeff Payne, Jordan Meltzer
Audio Mix, Eleven: Jeff Payne
Executive Producer, Eleven: Melissa Elston

Colorist, MPC: Mark Gethin
Colorist, MPC: Kristopher Smale
Sr. Executive Producer, MPC: Meghan Lang Bice
Producer, MPC: Caitlin Forrest

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.

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