Mahoney Says Chevy Olympics Effort Is Holistic Strategy

Chevrolet focused on the Sierra HD pickup truck during the Super Bowl, and is following up with a product-focused campaign during the Winter Olympics. Eight TV spots via Chevrolet's Commonwealth agency group are on network, cable and NBCSports.com during the games. Most focus on products, and apply a different theme to each. The Volt spot annunciates “The New Freedom” message; The Equinox ad touts “The New Connected;” Traverse is “The New Us”;  Malibu “The New Mobile Device”; Cruze “The New World”, Cruze Diesel “The New Efficient”; and Impala “The New Sanctuary” (click the links to see the spots).  The automaker also has a social media component, “What’s #TheNew to you?” -- reflecting the global "Find New Roads" tag. 

It's all part of a larger Chevrolet strategy around consistency of message across product and brand communications. At the NADA conference in New Orleans recently, Marketing Daily spoke with Tim Mahoney, Chevrolet's head of global marketing operations, about the automaker's holistic 2014 marketing strategy.  

Q: Chevrolet is in the Super Bowl, and will be in lots of other big properties this year. Why is this an important time for Chevrolet to take the bullhorn? 

A: Last year, we were within a few thousand units of 5 million cars sold around the world, so the brand is on the move. We have great products and we have won numerous awards, from North American Car of the Year to North American Truck of the Year. So now the expectation is, let's tell people about it. Some of these placements on the Olympics really give us that breadth to do that, and to talk about core models; the volume drivers that compete in major segments. 

Q: You mentioned that Chevrolet took a new direction with ad creative development strategy. You developed it all early in the year?

A: We decided to develop the work as a body of work, not piecemeal. Fundamentally, we sat down and said, "Let's tell a Chevrolet story starting with the first quarter. Let's map out the various properties we have from Super Bowl to Olympics to Grammys to Academy Awards and let's parse out that story." 

Q: Why this approach?

A: Brands are a little bit like a bank account. You want to put a little more in than you're taking out. When you develop the work at one time, you are able to see how the individual models contribute to that brand story. Quite often companies and brands will live from one product launch to the next, and when you step back you say, "Wow -- is that all really connecting back to the mother brand?" In this case, the work we have developed really has a Chevrolet feel to it, and celebrates the first anniversary of "Find New Roads," which has been adapted all over the world.

Q: How is the "Find New Roads" campaign helping brand equity? 

A: One proof point is, we moved up significantly on the InterBrand rankings. We cracked for the first time the top 100 coming in at 89. What this shows us -- and from the feedback from the dealer network -- is that consumes and dealers appreciate the consistency. 

Q: Does dealer-level creative reflect tier I?

A: The work you see on the Super Bowl, and the work you will see on the Olympics can span the range from being very emotional to getting right down to the retail level -- which defines "Find New Roads" in terms of getting people to look at our products instead of at the others. Both the brand and retail work have to support one another. The brand work is about making people feel that Chevrolet is the brand for them. The retail work is about "this product is for me and can I afford it and where can I get it." 

Q: How is this holistic approach, including early mapping of creative and media, affecting digital and social strategy?

A: It used to be you'd start with TV and figure out how to roll it out to other places. But we have started in the center, with the customer: right message, right time, right medium. Online was also developed in parallel with other creative but, again, putting the customer in the center. So what you'll see is an adjunct [digital] piece where, if a consumer sees a spot on the Super Bowl or Grammys or Olympics and they want to find out more, they will discover the same look and feel, but more detailed and more "rational."

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