Chevy Puts Global Creative Review In High Gear

Go back about 50 years and one of the more cloying jingles in the heyday of cloying jingles was “See the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet, dah-da-dah-da-dah …” It’s a different world, and Chevy is motoring around in a big part of it. In an effort to navigate more “efficiently and effectively,” General Motors has put the brand's global creative account into review.

While Dinah “Chevy” Shore extolled the virtues of our gleaming Interstate Highway System and its byways, GM, for example, sold more vehicles in China than it did in the U.S. last year, with sales of cars and trucks bearing the Chevrolet nameplate up 18%, the AP reported earlier this week.

Four major holding companies: U.S.-based Omnicom Group and Interpublic Group of Cos.; French holding company Publicis Groupe and Korean company Cheil Worldwide are submitting proposals, Abbey Klaassen and Rupal Parekh report in Advertising Age.

"While preliminary, this is another significant step in our efforts to more effectively engage consumers, and drive efficiencies in our marketing operations on a global scale," global CMO Joel Ewanick says in a company statement released late yesterday. "GM will evaluate the proposals and determine the best course for moving forward, which may be to maintain or adjust its current agency footprint."

And GM spokesman Tom Henderson “stressed to Ad Age that the move is about the automaker being more efficient and effective in its business around the world,” Klaassen and Parekh write.

"We're looking at the entire scope of work done globally. We believe we can be much more effective by getting more efficient. It's possible we could stay with our current model. We believe efficiencies will drive better effectiveness."

A source tells the Wall Street Journal’s Suzanne Vranica and Sharon Terlep that GM wants a "more consistent ad message around the world." Two other insiders tell them it also wants to “save money.”

“The company has far too many advertising agencies, which drives up costs and complexity,” GM CEO Dan Akerson recently told the Journal. “Multiple agencies lead to inconsistency and a dilution of our message.”

A General Motors source tells Adweek’s Andrew McMains that the review has been underway for a month and should be completed by the end of the year. Hence, we surmise, the catch-up headline: “GM's Global Chevy Review Is Well Underway.”

Pointing out that Ewanick switched creative assignments on Chevrolet and Cadillac without a review last year, McMains surmises: “The Chevy contest comes amid GM's review of its global media planning and buying business, and feels more like the more deliberate and process-drive GM of yore than the new GM, as personified by global marketing chief Joel Ewanick….The latest reviews may mark a return to form.”

The U.S. assignment went to Ewanick’s buddy, Jeff Goodby of Omnicom's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. He told the Ad Age reporters he’s not worried about the review.

"I don't expect it to change our relationship, but we are just all trying to solve a global alignment problem. The United States only constitutes about 40% of the account,” Goodby points out, “and it's a complicated account -- even more complicated globally. There has to be a way to align us on working on it.”

Our Amy Corr is quite taken with one of the latest efforts from Goodby, a spot for Silverado trucks titled “Like Father, Like Son.” In her must-read “Out to Launch” column, she describes it thusly: “A young boy plays with his toy truck, hauling Barrels of Monkeys in the truck bed, rescuing a My Little Pony trailer from under a chair, and then hauling a boat over his sleeping dog. A door slams outside and the boy sees his father, a Silverado owner, returning from work.” (Not to mention the voiceover, which eerily channels Hal Riney).

And on the opening day of the World Series broadcast Wednesday, Chevy aired a 60-second spot blending historic photos of moments involving its vehicles framed in modern-day settings in celebration of its forthcoming 100th anniversary, Marketing Daily’s Karl Greenberg reported. Says Adweek’s John Tejada in a review of the spot, “Then and Now,” also out of Goodby, Berlin: “The ad definitely hits a nerve and does make you feel a bit more American. Let's see if it moves Camaros.” (My take: You can’t go wrong with Ray Charles singing “America the Beautiful,” capped by that voiceover guy again.)

As we reported recently, things are looking up in Detroit –- and there’s more cheery news of Firebirds –- or at least Cruzes and the like -- rising out of the rust this morning. Neal E. Boudette reports in the Wall Street Journal that the average vehicle on our roads is 10.6 years old –- nearly two years older than they were collectively in 2000, according to R.L. Polk data. The aging of America’s fleet is providing a strong headwind for new car sales with AutoNation, a chain of 257 new-car sales franchises, yesterday reporting a 24% jump in profits in the third quarter.

"The economy still has a long way to go," AutoNation chairman and CEO Michael J. Jackson tells Boudette. "However, the industry is healthier than I've ever seen in my career. The manufacturers are no longer over-producing and you have this genuine need to replace cars. So we are selling cars without the crazy discounts we saw in the past."

Invigorating news for a change! Makes you want to hop in the jalopy and head north for some good, old-fashioned leaf peeping this weekend, doesn’t it?

Tags: automotive
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