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Chevy Ads Run Deep/Shallow

General Motors’ volume Chevrolet brand is in the midst of advertising for two key car models: its newest-generation Malibu and the 2013 Spark.

Chevy says the Malibu is the auto industry’s longest-running mid-size nameplate, having first arrived in 1964 as the top model in Chevelle’s line. So the newest generation of the sedan in the competitive mid-size category deserves a top-shelf send-off.

The Spark mini car is aimed at a younger crowd who could be the next wave of loyal GM buyers.

Both cars have gotten decent reviews.

It’s not unusual for a mass-market car brand to have two very different kinds of campaigns for different models. The rub here is the blitz for the Malibu doesn’t do the car justice. The work out there, so far, is shallow. It doesn’t run deep. But the Spark campaign is much more creative and entertaining.

What’s puzzling is the work comes from the same ad agency- Commonwealth, which seems to have a split personality.

That’s entirely possible since Commonwealth was created earlier this year with a 50-50 venture between agencies from two different public holding companies: Omnicom Group’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and Interpublic Group of Cos.’ McCann Erickson Worldwide. Both ad agencies were already on GM’s roster, but this new entity is handling Chevrolet in most parts of the world.

The new Malibu campaign is in full swing. Check out this national Malibu television commercial, called “State of Mind”

 There’s nothing compelling about this commercial. It’s like Commonwealth just phoned in this car-on-road, B-roll video with narrator Tim Allen talking about product benefits. And what exactly is this mysterious “Malibu state of mind?”

Malibu is also chasing women shoppers with a separate, integrated blitz featuring fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi. He’s created his new Chevy Malibu collection, which he and Chevy are touting all over the internet in videos like this

His collection is now being sold on Living Social, which has good reach with 70 million members around the world. There’s also an online promotion offering a $5,000 shopping spree. Chevy’s marriage to Mizrahi is interesting to say the least. It’s certainly not the first time GM has partnered with a fashion designer. From 1996 through 2000, GM teamed with the Council of Fashion Designers for Concept:Cure, a fundraiser for breast cancer research. Every year several designers would get a single GM model from across its brands to rework with interior and exterior colors and fabrics. Chevy’s now-defunct Cavalier was a mainstay of Concept:Cure.

GM’s new media agency, Aegis Group’s Carat, put the deal together with Mizrahi. Time Inc. produced some 50 online videos for the blitz- yes 50!. The videos can be seen on Time-Warner’s stable of sites, which certainly makes the whole deal seem like a giant media buying deal, although the effort does include non-Time-Warner sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Mizrahi said “each piece of my capsule collection was inspired by the features of the car, from the leather seats that feel like they are hugging you, to the ice-blue interior lighting.”

That interior lighting color is the inspiration for his Malibu Blouse, a $140 robin-blue number made of silk crepe.

Mary Kubitskey, Malibu’s advertising manager, said “collaborating with Isaac Mizrahi on this collection has helped us speak to women who embrace style, but want a smart product to make their lives easier.”

Okay, but not sure how a $140 blouse will make anyone’s life easier.

There’s been some hand-wringing on LinkedIn auto groups that this tie-in positions the new Malibu as a “chick car.” Such fretting isn’t warranted, since Chevy is balancing media buys for the Malibu with heavy rotations during NFL and post-season MLB games. It’s doubtful most men will even catch onto the Malibu-Mizrahi marriage. Despite this, the whole tie-in seems a bit forced.

Let’s move onto the Spark.

The little city car, an import from GM’s South Korean operations, first arrived here in 2009. Chevy is now giving the 2013- model Spark a digital-only push, with no plans to take the videos to television.

Since the Spark is a global car, Chevy wanted the videos to have a global feel. So the campaign is themed “Importing our Export.” The first online videos of the 2013 blitz started on YouTube and Chevrolet.com/Spark, featuring ads from around the world.

Here’s one the first, called “Anthem”

The video is a compilation of online spots that are generally fun and engaging. I especially like this video, dubbed “Hurdy Gurdy” that touts the car’s movie-watching capabilities from the USB port

What a creative way to show off that feature!

Although the Spark is aimed at a younger crowd, some of the videos have a lot of cross-generational appeal.

Chevy said the campaign has already gotten over a million views and lots of positive feedback.

Commonwealth hits it out of the ball park for the Spark, but strikes out for the Malibu. A mass market car like the Malibu doesn’t and shouldn’t have to have bland, mass-market advertising.

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*This post first appeared in CNW’s monthly Retail Automotive Summary, a subscriber-only newsletter, as my AdRap column.

MAKING TRACKS: Stay tuned to see who will fill two major car marketing jobs in Detroit. Ford Motor Co. is looking for a marketing chief for Lincoln, after moving  C.J. O’Donnell, group marketing manager, to head marketing of Ford’s electric vehicles. And GM is looking for a global VP to oversee Chevrolet brand management, advertising, and marketing, with sales and service also expected to be part of the job. Earlier this month, GM tapped its lobbyist, Bob Ferguson, to that same newly-created global post at Cadillac. Currently Chris Perry heads Chevrolet marketing globally and is said to be a candidate for the newly-created job.

MAKING TRACKS UPDATE: Don Romano, former CMO of Mazda in North America and president of Mazda Canada,  is now managing director and CMO of  Toyota Saudi Arabia.

You can also find me, Jean Halliday, on LinkedIn, Facebook and Forbes.com

On Twitter: @jhal2001

GM Kicks Off Global Soccer Deal After Budget Review

Detroit-General Motors, which spends some $4.5 billion annually in advertising globally, is betting on soccer- or football, depending on where you live, to boost the image of its volume Chevrolet brand around the globe.

In one of the world’s worst-kept secrets, GM announced today its Chevrolet brand inked a 5-year global deal with the UK’s Manchester United, one of the world’s most popular soccer teams.

GM’s volume brand will first activate the Manchester United deal in China, where the team will play in July’s Chevrolet China Cup against Shanghai Shenhua FC and another yet-to-be-named team.

Joel Ewanick, global CMO at the automaker, said at GM’s Detroit headquarters today that McCann Erickson and IPG sibling Jack Morton Worldwide will work with Chevrolet in China to give away game tickets to fans and invite them on the field during practices, as well as advertise during TV broadcasts of the games. Popular Manchester player Park Ji-Sung, a South Korean native, will represent Chevrolet.

In the U.K. at home games, Chevrolet’ owners will be able to park their cars in a special lot close to the stadium, Ewanick said. Chevy’s name and logo will be on swanky red chairs the players and coaches sit in during games and a spot frequented by cameras during TV broadcasts. There’s TV ads too, natch.

Why soccer and Manchester United?

The sport’s and the team’s numbers are pretty impressive. Ewanick said of the world’s population of 7 billion, 3.5 billion of them consider themselves soccer fans. Manchester has 659 million followers worldwide and more than 25 million Facebook fans. Meanwhile, the NFL has 100 million fans globally. While the 2012 Super Bowl attracted 125 million viewers, a recent, televised  Manchester match had an audience of 400 million. And Forbes ranked Manchester United as the most valuable sports team from 2007 through 2011.

Pretty impressive stats, eh?

The genesis of the deal wasn’t from one of GM’s agencies. Ewanick said the seed germinated at an ad conference last fall in San Francisco, when he met and chatted with Manchester United’s Commercial Director Richard Arnold. “The more we talked about Chevy and where we are strong and they want to grow and where they are strong and we want to grow it was easy to see there were ways for us to work together.”

As part of the Chevrolet’s new sponsorship, it is donating 1.5 million indestructible soccer balls over the next three years to the One World Futball Project. The non-profit will distribute the balls to children in war zones, disaster areas and disadvantaged communities, including in the U.S. Chevy introduced its partnership with this two-minute video featuring Sting

Lisa Tarver, co-founder and COO of One World, said 30 million children globally will benefit from these 1.5 million soccer balls and bring them hope for a better future. Here she is with Ewanick today (He’s holding the durable Chevy-branded ball, while she’s got a so-called “rag ball,” made from rags and leaves by kids in many parts of the world)

The news comes in the wake of GM’s very public, recent move to pull out of the Super Bowl and yank its $10-million annual ad spending from Facebook. Other than 2009 and 2010 in the wake of GM’s post bankruptcy reorganization, the automaker had a major, longtime presence as a Super Bowl advertiser. Chevrolet had 5 ads in both the 2011 and 2012 games, plus  one in both post game shows when it awarded new Corvettes to the MVPs. This year, it gave away 20 new Chevy vehicles and  made a huge digital and mobile play, along with an MTV music video and several online sponsorships.

(SEE AUTOADOPOLIS CHEVY-2012 SUPER BOWL BLOG HERE BOWLhttp://autoadopolis.wordpress.com/2012/01/26/chevys-multi-media-super-bowl-blitz/

Ironically GM raved about the results of its Super Bowl effort after the game.

Ewanick said today that NBC wanted too much of an increase for the carmaker to re-up for the Big Game in 2013. “This time every year we evaluate every line item in our media budget,” he said. Although GM found a great return on its investment, next year’s “significant” hike for the Super Bowl was just too expensive.

Not to worry. Another carmaker will gladly pick up the slack. And although Ewanick said “right now that door is closed” for Super Bowl advertising, “we can always change out mind.”

Ditto for Facebook, where Ewanick said GM spent $30 million a year creating content in addition to the $10-million ad buy. “We’ll continue our conversations with Facebook over the summer.” He said Facebook users found GM’s ads “a little bit distracting” and that the automaker had unsuccessfully proposed to Facebook more than a dozen new ways to try to make the ads less intrusive, more engaging and relevant.

GM won’t spend less on advertising in the U.S. and will spend more outside the U.S. as the automaker tries to grow its volume brand. “We are reapplying the Super Bowl dollars for our 2013 launches” in the U.S., (including the crucial next-generation Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups), said Ewanick. “It’s not like we’re cutting in North America.” Although his 2013 ad budget  hasn’t been finalized, he said he’s trying to keep it “up a little bit every year.”

Ewanick estimated that GM and its brands spend roughly a third of their total annual ad expenditures here in the U.S. and the rest outside this country.

GM needs to improve its global marketing, said Ewanick, adding “this is something we have not done well.” For example, he wants GM to do better in Brazil and its large Rio de Janiero hub, where GM has a 12% market share. “We should have a 22% share” there, he said. “You’d be astounded by how much Hyundai spends in Brazil.”

MAKING TRACKS: Elizabeth “Liz” Boone, who was hired with much fanfare from Hyundai’s ad agency, Innocean Worldwide Americas in Huntington Beach, California in 2010, has left General Motors, where she had been global director of digital and social engagements. Boone has joined Federated Media Publishing as a VP, leading the auto category. (Ewanick told AutoAdOpolis GM is strongly considering a candidate in Shanghai as her successor)

Follow me, Jean Halliday, on LinkedIn and Facebook

And on Twitter @jhal2001

 

Chevy’s Multi-Media Super Bowl Blitz

Chevrolet is significantly turning up the heat on its Super Bowl media buys this year. In addition to three in-game TV commercials, two pre-game and two post-game, General Motors’ volume brand pushed into online and mobile in a big way, including social media plays, a mobile app car-giveaway promotion, an MTV music video and several online sponsorships.

“There’s 11 automakers advertising in the Super Bowl, so we had to figure out how we can make people laugh and make sure it’s enteraining enough to get out information from us- not just during the Super Bowl, but what do we do before, during and after,” Chevy’s Chris Perry VP-global marketing and strategy said today at a press conference at GM’s Detroit headquarters.

Believe me, you’re not going to be able to miss Chevrolet before, during or after the game. This is a smart play by Chevy, which needs to change brand perceptions and improve buyer consideration.

Chevy got the ball rolling Jan. 22 with this national commercial during the NFL NFC Championship game introducing the Chevy Game Time mobil app. Entrants can win one of 20 Chevrolet vehicles and other prizes from Chevy, Bridgestone, Motorola, Papa John’s Pizza, apparel from the NFLShop.com and Sirius XM Radio.

Perry said Chevy got more than 100,000 downloads of the app within the first 36 hours and now stands at over 130,000.

The brand has several Super Bowl sponsorships this year. Chevrolet is the only advertiser for Twitter’s official Super Bowl area, which is already live. Chevy is the exclusive auto sponsor on NBC’s live online streaming of the Big Game and gets ad time during every 30-minute break. Post-Game, it has auto exclusivity as the co-sponsor with USA Today of its AdMeter on Facebook that will let consumers vote on their favorite Super Bowl ads seen on Hulu and YouTube. Also post-game, the marketer is giving away a Chevy Corvette to the Most Valuable Player, as it did last year.

Starting February 2, look for short, online snippets on video sites like Hulu and YouTube starring actor Rainn Wilson of “The Office,” taunting viewers to watch Chevrolet’s Super Bowl ads on its YouTube channel. Chevy’s Group Advertising Manager Rick Martinek, who shepherded the brand’s entire Big Game effort over the past four months, said Wilson appears in 15 short promos ranging from 5 seconds to 15. Here’s one

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty – the actual television spots. Perry said he hasn’t decided which ones will air and several of the ones he showed today to reporters were still rough cuts. Chevy won’t upload the commercials until next week.

One that will be seen on Game Day for sure is a minute-long commercial that broke recently called “Happy Grad” for the Camaro Convertible and is from New York independent filmmakerZack Borst , 26, who entered Chevy’s Route 66 promotion last year

 Chevy’s USA creative agency of record Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, did most of the other commercials for the Super Bowl. The Sonic is getting its first television advertising since its online-only launch last September. Goodby’s one-minute Sonic spot, called “Stunt Anthem,” shows a compilation of all of the wild non-televised exploits for the Sonic, including this so called Kickflip

The commercial directs viewers to Sonic’s LetsDoThis.com site. The music in this spot is “We are Young,” from the group Fun, which since Chevy tapped them for this project has seen this song rising on MTV’s charts to numero uno last week and was featured on the popular Glee TV show.

Arriving Super Bowl weekend will be a new MTV video featuring the Chevy Sonic and the popular band OK Go, a decent way to get the car before its millennial target.

Curiously, McCann-Erickson’s Detroit-area office created one of Chevy’s Super Bowl spots. The :30 commercial, for the Sonic, dubbed “Joy,” shows how much fun computer-generated bugs have riding on the car’s front grill.

It’s a real gem that I predict will do well in the polls.

But back to Goodby, which also developed two versions of a :30 spot for the Volt called “Aliens,” in which five little green men are checking out the car’s technology at night in the garage of a frustrated owner wearing his bathrobe.

In the first version he moans “Come on guys, this is the third time this week.” And the aliens get a bit weird when his wife shows up.

The wife is absent in the second version. Instead the Volt owner gets miffed when he realizes the visitors have told other aliens about the car.

Tim Allen provides narration at the end of both : “From the coolest car on the block to the smartest technology in the galaxy.”

On Saturday morning at about 10:30 am EST, Chevrolet started a poll on social media asking fans to vote for their favorite of the two spots.  Chevy didn’t give voters  much time. The polls closed at 11:59 PM today. The spot with the most votes will be air Super Bowl Sunday.

Chevy has posted its :60 commercial for the Silverado pickup from Goodby.

Take a look


Love the Twinkees’ gag
.

Hundreds of Chevy dealers are also carrying the look and feel of the national Super Bowl blitz, with the help of Promoboxx in Boston.

Perry He predicted the whole multi-media shebang will generate 1.5-billion…yup BILLION….impressions with consumers from Jan. 22 through the week after the game. “That’s probably conservative,” Perry added.

Overall it appears Chevy will make a much better showing as a Super Bowl advertiser this year than in 2011.

And that’s good news for Chevrolet….and GM.

 MAKING TRACKS: Chuck Hipsher just started this week as creative director of FKM Advertising in Houston. Hipsher worked on Chevy trucks for almost three years as senior VP-creative director at Campbell-Ewald in Warren, Michigan until 2008.

GM’S GLOBAL GAMBITS

General Motors has two big chunks of business up for grabs- its global Chevrolet creative account and its worldwide media account.

The grapevine is buzzing that GM is close to tapping IPG’s McCann-Erickson as its first global creative agency of record for Chevrolet. Makes sense, since McCann already handles Chevy in China and Latin America, along with India, which it won last year in a review.

The win would be a major boost for McCann, which first handled GM in 1958 after resigning Chrysler’s account to take on Buick. But McCann lost Buick in 2007 without a review to Publicis Groupe’s Leo Burnett. McCann did tons of work for GM’s corporate account and landed GM’s Saab North American account in 2007. But the business on both accounts has dwindled.

Chevy is growing around the planet, tallying 4.76 million vehicles in 2011, a global sales record for the brand and good news for GM.

If you’re wondering about Chevy in the USA, word is McCann will have to work with Chevrolet’s creative shop, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in this country.

Back in 2005, GM pushed McCann into the arms of IPG sibling Campbell-Ewald, Chevrolet’s long-time USA shop, to support Chevrolet as it drove into global markets. That team effort, dubbed Chevrolet Brandcom, fell by the wayside during GM’s tumultuous financial fall.

But this new plan for Chevy seems fraught with peril, since Goodby is owned by competing mega-holding company Omnicom.

Chevrolet’s Chris Perry, VP-global marketing and strategy, only smiled at me when I  ran this grapevine buzz past him at the Detroit auto show. He told me the decision is coming down at the end of the month, adding Chevrolet currently has 50 different ad agencies worldwide.

GM has tried this dual holding company approach in the past, when it had its massive USA media planning and buying split between IPG and Publicis. At the time, GM’s brass said the holding companies’ two agencies would work well together. But in the end, to the surprise of no one but GM apparently, they didn’t play nice with each other at all. The automaker ended up consolidating its media business at Publicis.

Now Publicis is defending not only that giant piece of GM’s media business here in the USA, but trying to get the consolidated global media business.

And it’s not looking good for the home team. Rumblings in the ad world have Aegis Group’s Carat already picked and in the midst of contract terms with GM – translation pricing, which could jinx the whole deal.

So no wonder GM’s global CMO Joel Ewanick is deflecting press inquiries, saying there’s no winner- yet- at least not for a few more weeks. He said: “No one out there knows anything. They think they do. But it can change tomorrow. I went to bed last night, and changed my mind.”
Okey dokey.

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SUPER  BOWL TIME

The hype for automakers advertising in the Super Bowl Feb. 5 is in full swing. Two car companies have released teasers of their Big Game commercials.

VW, which last year in one of its two spots had a child dressed as Darth Vader for the Passat, is apparently continuing its Star Wars’ tie-in.

Tim Mahoney, VW’s CMO and Exec VP , told me the Super Bowl commercial will be a minute-long and for the redone Beetle. Deutsch, Los Angeles, handles VW’s creative account.

And Toyota’s lux Lexus brand is making its first Super Bowl appearance- featuring the 2013 GS, which officially launches next month.

Here’s the sneak peak from Lexus

Hmmm. Lexus’ longtime agency, Team One, didn’t create the Super Bowl ad, developed by Attik. But Lexus did say Team One handled the overall GS launch.

MAKING TRACKS: After a long search, Hyundai Motor America has hired David Matathia as advertising director. Matathia, who started Jan. 9 in his new job, had worked at ad agency GSD&M as chief strategist. He joins longtime Hyundai staffer Jackie Kim, also an ad director.

MAKING TRACKS II: Julie Roehm, who has been flying solo as a consultant since leaving Walmart and Chrysler Group before that, has landed at biz-software firm SAP as senior VP-marketing.

WEIRDEST BIZ CARD EVER ? Ran into Cameron McNaughton at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. He’s the president of Lincoln’s new WPP ad agency, based in New York. The biggest words on his business card: “The Yet To Be Named Lincoln Agency”

You can follow me, Jean Halliday, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

On Twitter, I’m @jhal2001