Chevrolet's new ad campaign "Chevy Goes Deep," which breaks Wednesday night during the first game of the 2010 Major League Baseball World Series, is the first major Chevrolet brand campaign from new AOR Goodby Silverstein & Partners, which is freshly ensconced in Detroit offices across the street from Comerica Park.
It's also the first campaign under Chris Perry's watch. Perry, Chevrolet's VP of marketing, followed GM VP marketing Joel Ewanick from Hyundai in April.
The campaign comprises a 60-second anthem spot with archival footage of General Motors vehicles being assembled and driven by happy customers. All of the ads use the same past-to-present narrative technique that starts with grainy shots of vehicles from early last century, running through the Harley Earl years, to the '70s muscle car era and culminating in current vehicles like Cruze, Volt, Camaro, and Silverado.
Television and movie star Tim Allen, the new voice of Chevrolet, narrates. The effort includes digital, print, out-of-home and social media.
Perry and Jeff Goodby, co-chairman of Goodby Silverstein & Partners, field line drives, a few grounders and the occasional fly ball to right field from Marketing Daily.
Q: Tell me about the new tagline "Chevy Runs Deep."
JG: It came from the simple understanding that, everything being equal, Americans will prefer Chevrolet, and our job is to prove that Chevys are technologically equal or superior to the competition -- that they fit better into our lives. But "Chevy Runs Deep" captures what I think of as the tiebreaker: the cultural connection people have to Chevy -- the fact that Chevy has a soul.
Q: We have seen automotive ad campaigns a lot in recent years that hearken back to the golden years. Is this historical approach going to work again? Aren't people immune to it?
CP: It's very important that it not be understood as "historical" advertising. What I think we are doing is connecting to the "soul" of Chevrolet that people understand even if they don't have a long a history with the brand.
JG: A friend recently put it this way: Chevy's logo is a tattoo a younger person might get, while Toyota's is not. There's a cultural connection, but this is explicitly not a historical campaign. It's forward-looking and, going forward, it is going to be about technology -- about how new vehicles like Volt and Cruze fit into people's lives.
CP: And people recognize the role Chevy has in the fabric of American life; even young people recognize the role we have played and the authenticity of the brand. Right now, there's a little bit of a lack of relevance for them and lack of understanding if we have products for them or not. And that's what we have to change with the products we have coming, particularly the Cruze.
JG: Authenticity is a really good word. Younger people get the authenticity of it, but they also don't have negative associations. In fact, they have positive associations with the brand.
Q: Is this supposed to be overtly patriotic, along the lines of some of the campaigns Chevrolet has done in the past?
CP: No, we aren't doing that; Chevrolet is a world brand and we want to make sure we aren't just wrapping ourselves in the American flag and saying: "We're an American brand, you're the American public, so you should buy our product." That's isn't what this is about. It's about showing people how we represent the best that America has to offer.
JG: That the best that America has to offer can compete with anybody.
Q: Why do, or why should, younger people think well of Chevrolet?
JG: Our recent vehicles and the fact that the brand doesn't actually go that far back for them. They have positive associations with things like Camaro, the Volt, Cruze -- the fact that the President has talked about vehicles like Volt.
Q: So is the bottom line here that even though this is clearly an emotional campaign, with the old footage and the walkthrough history, it's really about the products?
CP: It all leads up to innovation and technology.
Q: Given that Volt is most emblematic of that, as a halo vehicle, are you going to heavy up on the Volt anthem spot?
CP: We definitely want to use Volt to round out the technology and innovation story of our brand. And it's important that we leverage that going forward, but we also need to ignite a fondness for the Chevy brand. So, no -- there won't be one spot getting a heavy-up on media buy. It will be evenly spread between new work for vehicles like Cruze and Silverado to round out that messaging.
Q: Clearly, this thing is launching with traditional media focus around baseball, but then what? What are the other elements going to be?
JG: It's good to have an event like the World Series to kick this off with, but at the same time, these properties will be used in lots of other places. They are going to turn up in cinema, YouTube; we will get them around to lots of other places.
Q: Is there product integration around the World Series?
CP: We have vehicles on the ground in some of the [MLB] stadiums. We leverage our relationship with Major League Baseball in a lot of different ways. We advertise the games and are also at the All-Star Games on the ground. We have billboards in the World Series game, a presence on the Fox Web site.
Q: When you were at Hyundai Motor America, [Chris,] you focused a lot of attention on digital efforts and crowdsourcing. What's happening on that front with this campaign?
CP: We are evolving the campaign now -- particularly when we talk about younger audiences, we will put them in the center of the process. We have to think of how they consume media and how they interact with the messaging. We will explore this through social media as well, through cinema and out-of-home. It's an agnostic message, so we have to find the best channels.
Q: Bottom line: this is a work in progress?
JP: Look, it's an enormous brand. I mean, there's a lot of stuff going forward that will happen on a lot of fronts, integrated through all kinds of media and at all kinds of levels, including the dealer level. It's not something you can set up, turn on and run. It has to be calibrated.
Q: Why is Tim Allen the right voice for Chevrolet?
JG: (laughing) He's Santa Clause! He's Buzz Lightyear! He's the Tool Guy! He's from Michigan and likes Chevrolet. He does love the brand; he's very enthusiastic about it.
CP: This is the "everyman" brand. This is the brand you have conversations about over the kitchen table, and that's Allen's voice. I think as we move forward and evolve the campaign, we are going to use his personality a bit more.
JG: Most of the time with a voiceover, you don't want to call too much attention to the person who is the voiceover. In this case, it's not bad to do that because he has such a great personality.