Chevrolet, MTV Offer A World-Music Spark Tribute
Chevrolet has been selling its Spark minicar in the U.S. for a couple of months, but now the gold bow-tie is starting a digital marketing effort with partner MTV, whose implicit idea is that Spark comes to America with a full passport, and a backpack covered with stickers from every notable metropolis on Earth.
That's actually true: the car has been been bumming around the world at least since the late ’90s (as the Daewoo Matiz). Sold in a number of global markets, it is only now hitting the U.S. because Americans, who have been migrating to smaller vehicles as gas prices have risen, are just now figuring out that maybe there's something to be said for even smaller cars you can parallel park on a postage stamp. That's especially true of urbanites, and -- given the under-$13,000 starting price -- 20-somethings.
To tout the worldly vehicle, which the GM division is pitching to the skateboarding, bike-messenger-chic crowd -- Williamsburg, you know who I'm talking about -- the company has partnered with MTV's Iggy global-artist site for a program called "Cover the World." The campaign puts Spark in the middle of a crowdsourced music effort, in which a short list of emerging music acts from different countries will cover an American pop song. Which song? People will vote over the next couple of weeks to determine that.
The four musical acts will each cover that song. And to entice members of the horribly overpopulated guitar-player singer/songwriter wannabe demographic (which includes yours truly), people can also cover the song and upload their video to the co-branded CoverTheWorld.com site. Chevrolet is giving fans who vote on songs a chance to win a custom-wrapped Chevy Spark, as well as a VIP trip for two to see one of the featured acts perform live. People who do their own version of the winning pop song get a chance to win a Chevy Spark, as well.
Chevrolet for the first time has it all going on in the small-car area of the market, and Matthew Scarlett, national advertising and sales promotion manager at Chevrolet, tells Marketing Daily that the larger strategy here is making sure that these smaller Chevrolet cars (Sonic, Spark, and Cruze) are, well, different. "We wanted to differentiate Sonic versus Spark," he says. "Sonic is about adventure. Spark is about worldly experience. MTV saw our creative platform for Spark, came back to us with the idea for using it to help people discover these emerging artists across the globe who haven't quite hit it yet in the U.S. but are on their way. And that's like the Spark, which is popular around the world but hadn't hit here yet."
By contrast, marketing for the Sonic subcompact, under a "Let's Do This" theme, has been all about aligning the car as a vehicle for those with an adventurous bent. The launch program involved unusual Web antics like page-takeovers revealing a video of the car free-falling with skydivers, and a series of consumer-controlled stunts. The company recently launched a new Sonic ad keeping to the wild-adventure theme with a bunch of 20-something kids taking a midnight swim, while touting the MyChevrolet app's ability to remotely open the car's doors. Scarlett says another stunt for the new Sonic RS is on tap. "We are in talks with some media partners to pull it off."
The four bands participating in the Spark campaign are All Time Low, the only U.S- based band (Baltimore), Jamaican-based Gyptian, South Korean hit-makers The Wonder Girls and Australian artist Angus Stone. They will each do a music video of the winning song (consumers vote among six songs, including Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot", Norah Jones' "Don't Know Why," and A-Ha's "Take On Me"). Scarlett says Spark is present in all aspects of the program. "Basically, [at] the site you will see Spark branding throughout, and Spark will be integrated into the videos, and before each video there will be pre-roll about Spark."
To promote the venture, Chevy is running a co-branded digital banner campaign on all Viacom network sites. And on Chevrolet's own Spark microsite the automaker is showing a gallery of ads for Spark from different countries. Also, since a big part of the car's quirky appeal is the color schemes -- the $12,995 car can be had in eight colors with names like lemonade, techno pink, denim, and salsa -- Spark is sponsoring a multi-city event called Color Run, a 5K "race" where participants get dusted with various hues of corn starch as they run. To talk vehicle features, Chevy is doing online videos using humor to tout things like the vehicle's 10 airbags, and the on-board entertainment system.