Chevy manager's stumbling at MLB presentation a talker

Jim Lynch and Melissa Burden
The Detroit News
Chevrolet official Rikk Wilde congratulates San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner after awarding him a 2015 Colorado truck.

General Motors Co. is making the best of an embarrassing national television moment, turning a gaffe made by a Chevrolet exec in his Most Valuable Player presentation award at the World Series into a marketing tool for its new midsize pickup.

Chevrolet official Rikk Wilde, a regional zone manager, appeared nervous, flustered and not quite sure of the features on a 2015 Chevy Colorado that he was presenting to MVP San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner Wednesday night.

"As the official sponsor, or the official vehicle, of Major League Baseball, Chevrolet is proud to participate in this prestigious award," Wilde said. "Um, along with our dealers, we are also extremely honored to give back to this sport, uh, by supporting baseball in cities and towns across this nation. At Chevrolet we have, uh, we have also been proud of of the latest and greatest, uh, technology in our truck lineup, which is the all-new 2015, uh, Chevy Colorado. Um, it combines class-winning and leading, um, you know, technology and stuff with, uh, Wi-Fi powered by OnStar ..."

His hesitation-filled presentation, during which he referred several times to notes, lasted roughly 60 uncomfortable seconds before he turned over the keys to Bumgarner. The awkward performance of the #ChevyGuy has been the subject of many jokes on social media.

But Chevy is running with it, using the attention to drive interest in its newly released truck.

The hashtag #technologyandstuff was trending in the U.S. Thursday afternoon. Chevrolet has been in the social media game with its own @ChevyTrucks account, tweeting a link to the Chevy Colorado website: "Truck yeah the 2015 #ChevyColorado has awesome #TechnologyAndStuff! You know you want a truck." Later Thursday, it released to media videos of the Colorado with the headline '' 'You Know You Want a Truck' with Technology and Stuff."

GM's head of global product development, Mark Reuss, also put his support behind Wilde and the Colorado, tweeting Thursday, "It's what I've been saying for years. ... #technologyandstuff."

Chevrolet spokesman Mike Albano, in an email, confirmed that Brian Sweeney, U.S. vice president of sales and service for Chevrolet, called Wilde on Thursday to tell him the Chevy team was behind him.

Albano said Wilde is not a regular public speaker — but he is a big baseball fan.

"He is a lifelong Kansas City Royals fan, so he was suffering the woes of having watched his team just lose Game 7," Albano said. "His day job is selling cars and trucks, and that's what he'll be back doing again today.

"And nothing he said was wrong. We've got a lot of stuff in the Chevy Colorado."

Chevrolet spokeswoman Cristi Vazquez said the company saw a "large spike in hits" at on Wednesday night, with visits seven times higher than normal.

"In today's age of social media, it is often best to jump on board and ride the wave," Vazquez said in an email. "A set of previously planned videos was released to make the most of the organic conversation about the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and all of the #TechnologyAndStuff that the truck contains."

Mike Bernacchi, a University of Detroit Mercy marketing professor, said Chevy is doing the right thing.

"It was awkward for that fellow, but today with social media, you have the opportunity to take care of flubs and change what's going on," he said. "You can make something like that less difficult and more humorous than it was intended to be."

Staff Writer Michael Martinez contributed.