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.
*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.
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On Twitter: @jhal2001