Chevy’s New Ads: Still Not Consistent.

As GM’s Chevrolet brand celebrates its 100th year on November 3, the advertiser has cranked out a ton of new work.
The work, most visible on television and online, includes the centennial celebration, launch work for the new Sonic and for the Silverado pickup. Unfortunately, it’s a mixed bag that still doesn’t clarify the soul of Chevrolet.
There’s too much slice-of-life advertising that spends more time on owners and their here-and-now situations than particular models or features. Like this recent one for the 2012 Cruze Eco

Cute bit? Yes. Funny? Yes. But memorable? Nope.
With all the money Chevy is spending, the advertising to date also hasn’t improved buyer consideration or really explained how much better the vehicles have gotten.
All a shame, really, since it’s another missed opportunity for the brand. And, it comes months after GM’s ad czar Joel Ewanick said he was looking for consistency in messaging. (see my earlier blog:

gms-advertising-is-disappointing
Ewanick handed Chevrolet’s account to Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, without a review shortly after his arrival at GM from Hyundai in May 2010. That should be more than enough time for the client and agency to get their act together for this storied brand.
A point not missed by GM CEO Dan Akerson, who took over the top job 13 months ago and made marketing a priority. He pushed for a global review of Chevrolet creative. But all the GM speak on this review strongly indicates it’s being done to lower costs, which doesn’t translate to best creative.
This review will be the battle of the holding companies, auto conflicts be damned: Publicis; Interpublic; Omnicom and Cheil. Wondering why dark horse Cheil is in there? Could Ewanick, who knows that South Korean’s largest ad group and affiliate of Samsung, is an archrival of Hyundai, want to stick it to his former employer?
At any rate, Chevrolet, at the age of 100, still has a perception problem that the past 18 months of advertising hasn’t fixed. Sadly, not a new problem for Chevy. GM’s former North American ad czar Mark LaNeve told me back in the summer of 2008 that consumer misperception was the automaker’s biggest communications challenge.
Changing agencies can hurt brands because of the time it takes the new shops to get up to speed on their new clients.
Meantime, the best of the bunch in Chevy’s new work is this moving, centennial commercial from Goodby, Silverstein called “Then & Now,” with Ray Charles singing “America the Beautiful”

One problem with the spot is that many of the comments on YouTube call it a rip-off of Canadian Taylor Jones’ DearPhotograph.com. They’re not too happy there’s no credit given to DearPhotograph.
Opps.
Meanwhile, Chevy just announced that a new documentary about its centennial will air nationally November 21 at 8 pm on cable’s Velocity channel. Produced by award-winning filmmaker Roger Sherman, Chevrolet said “Chevy 100, An American Story” explores Chevrolet culture through owners, collectors, journalists and historians. The film premiers in Detroit tonight at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Chevrolet has made an even bigger push into social media, with promotions and live chats touted on Twitter, Facebook et al. Consider that Chevy has pushed all these out there recently in social media : Plant a Tree project; win ticks to the CMA awards; win tickets to New York Comic Con; win a new Chevy by making virtual Saturday Big Ten Football predictions; Silverado’s Ultimate Hunting promotion and the 2012 Sonic’s bungee jump over the Arizona desert.
Whew. It’s as if all the various marketeering teams inside Chevy don’t know what each is doing. So Chevy’s social media fans end up getting a slew of postings daily, which is awful annoying and may convince them to disconnect.
A recent social media posting was for “The Road We’re On,” from Mother, New York. It’s supposed to be a celebration of not only Chevy’s first 100 years, but how it is working to make life better in the coming century. Here’s the latest in a series of episodes from the small town of Bridgeville, Pa.

Sorry, this 3:44 episode is too long and too boring. Does it really make you want to see the other episodes? Not really.

Here’s Chevy on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube in another new centennial effort. Followers asked questions about where Chevy is headed in the next 100 years. Chevrolet’s Alan Batey, VP-sales, service and marketing, answers several of these questions in YouTube videos posted today

The good news is Batey gives short answers. But why is the first question about the brand’s 100-year-old bowtie logo? What does THAT have to do with the next 100 years? Why did they even include this question and answer?

Yes, Chevy, you have come a long way baby. But you still have miles to go before getting your communications’ act together. We’re rooting for ya!

MAKING TRACKS: Congrats to Lynn Simoncini, a home-grown, experienced Motown car ad agency type who is now creative director at Gas Station TV

JUST ASKING: What is taking Hyundai so long in hiring its number two marketing person?

Follow me on Twitter: @jhal2001
or on Facebook: Jean Halliday

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4 responses to “Chevy’s New Ads: Still Not Consistent.

  1. I wanted to clarify my comments so they are not misconstrued as negative.
    Truly the opposite. I look at GM & Chevrolet & see opportunity. Untapped, misdirected & misguided talent.

    Best analogy I can think of off-hand is a goalie at hockey practice.

    “Coach forgets about me sometimes at practice. All he does is run drills with the other kids. I think that’s unfair.”

    So you got to remind ’em those kids are getting pushed to their limits because they need to improve. You – you’re ok. I don’t have to yell at you as much.

  2. While the broadcast is weak and Goodby really needs to be removed from the AOR post, I have an issue with the Twitter accounts associated with General Motors and Chevrolet. Even Joel Ewanick’s twitter account is horribly managed. Ask or comment to Chrysler or Ford and you’ll get a reply. Do the same to General Motors, Chevy or Joel Ewanick and well – you might as well just go talk to the wall.

    GM & Chevrolet are shooting themselves in the foot. If no one is monitoring or asking their social media to step up then they somebody should step out.

    It’s just negligent.

  3. Ralph the Amazing Tourniquet

    The Lone Stars did a campaign for the Chevy Silverado back in the 90s for CE. So the Canadians stole the idea from them.

    • “This is what he does/ this is what he drives”? Is that the campaign you are referring to? Good stuff from Mark and Brian. Good guys to boot.

      O

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