Chevy Drives Away With Top Olympics Campaign

by , Feb 28, 2002, 12:00 AM
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The magnitude of Olympic advertising can be gleaned from examining a single campaign that extended across a variety of media and beyond.

The Olympics campaign for Chevrolet began more than two months before the games started with the Olympics torch relay, a 65-day event in which the Olympics torch was carried from Atlanta, the last U.S. host city, to Salt Lake City. The torch traveled through 46 states for 13,500 miles. "Chevrolet provided the vehicles to transport the flame across the country and when the flame wasn't being carried by a torch bearer it was put in the back of an Avalanche truck," says Craig Conrad, senior VP of brand management supervisor at Campbell-Ewald, Chevy's agency.

To make the most of the torch relay, Chevy worked with a company called Wishoo, which took pictures of people at the event and placed them online at Chevy.com. Fans retrieved their pictures online and could send them to friends. The benefit for Chevy was drawing people to the site to learn more about the products.

In December, the company also used its site to run a sweepstakes, "We'll be there, You'll be there," which awarded trips to the Olympics as a grand prize.

Television was the key component once the games began, but far from the only one. Conrad wouldn't say how many spots ran, but said there was a significant presence on NBC - 30 second and five and ten second billboard spots ran. Campbell-Ewald developed three news spots for the Olympics, all focusing on the games. “Routine” featured skater Michelle Kwan, “Stickers” featured the U.S. men's hockey team and “Cauldron” featured the closing ceremony. Most of the ads were general branding ads, with product specific ads for the Avalanche and TrailBlazer also used, Conrad says.

The print element of the campaign featured newspaper and magazine ads, with a series of full page, half page and banners in USA Today and Sports Illustrated.

Chevy also had a major online presence during the games. It ran ads on NBCOlympics.com and SaltLake2002.com, the main Olympics sites, as well as MSNBCsports.com, Olympics.com and CNNsi.com.

MSN developed new ad formats for the two main Olympics sites and Chevy used all of them, including Skyscraper fly-outs, 230 x 33 pixel data-driven half banners and full page ads that faded in before new content loaded.

The company also sent email blasts to people who requested them at Chevy.com.

"We focus on completely integrated advertising across all media," Conrad says. "The majority watch TV, but the Net is growing by leaps and bounds. Online allows us to leverage our message across a different medium that is growing."

When asked to compare the benefits of TV and online, he says, "TV is still the broadest communication medium because hundreds of millions tune in. The Net is not the mass awareness medium that TV is. The benefit to the Web is it's more cost effective than TV, because there's not as much to produce and you use smaller creative elements. There's also a shorter production time than shooting a new TV commercial. And it continues to be easier to measure; it allows us to know where consumers are visiting and how long they stay. Also, people spend more time surfing the Net. If you have their undivided attention for a 30 second TV commercial, that's a win, but they spend longer online and see our messages longer than 30 seconds."

Chevy ran a major Olympics campaign as the lead division for General Motors for this Olympics. In Sydney it was Pontiac. "Chevy has been a longstanding sponsor of winter sports, supporting national governing bodies like USA Hockey and the U.S. Figure Skating Association, so it made sense to be the lead for Salt Lake," Conrad says.

MediaPost asked how much Chevy spent on the campaign, but neither Conrad nor a Chevy spokeswoman would say.

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