Chevy's Sonic Campaign Takes Fantastic Voyage


Chevrolet is telling Millennials "Let's Do This" with its first campaign ever that launches entirely digitally and experientially, with TV coming next year. And the TV ads, when they do arrive, won't show the car rolling down a rain-soaked road. Instead, the Sonic rolls out of the back bay of a C-130 cargo plane at 20,000 feet, parachute strapped to its hood. No computer graphics involved. Yeesh, now that's driving.

That airborne image says a lot about the campaign itself, which is all about trying new things, devised as a way to get 18-to-30 year olds engaged with Chevrolet through digital games, music, social-media and other things they like to try.

Matthew Scarlett, national advertising and sales promotion manager at Chevrolet, says the big message is that Sonic is the one 40-mpg car that is the most fun to drive. He also points out that the performance message is essential, as it is the only small car that can also be had with a turbocharger.  



"We want to make Sonic and Chevrolet relevant to these younger buyers, and we are encouraged by Cruze [Chevrolet's compact car]." He says Cruze is the fourth most popular car for people less that 25 years of age. "The larger target is Millennials, but we think Sonic will hone in on buyers 23 to 29 years of age, while Cruze is for people in their younger Thirties."

The effort has actually already begun, as the Sonic Facebook page houses a series of videos documenting how Chevrolet engineers took several of the Sonic cars on a cross-country tour to test its capabilities.

Promotions begin with a social media program whereby users will document themselves completing various challenges, ranging from participating in a sporting event for a good cause to working out in a grocery store. Players share their accomplishments on the “Let’s Do This” site or app, compete to earn badges, and accumulate points based on how widely they spread their accomplishments via social media.

Besides a web site,, the campaign will be supported by digital partnerships. Chevrolet will have custom mobile playlists on Pandora tailored to the “Let’s Do This” badging system. Sonic will also advertise exclusively when users create new mobile playlists.

Chevy will also run a mobile application, “The Chevy Sonic Adventure,” on SCVGR, wherein players will use their devices to participate in races in 26 key markets across the U.S.  The events will take place over five weekends beginning in late October. Participants will compete for a chance to win Sonics.  

And the car itself will be on "Funny or Die" short videos on Nov. 1 and 15.  

Scarlett said Chevrolet is also introducing personalized car wraps for sale where people can order an exterior scheme for their Sonic at

The effort, via Goodby Silverstein & Partners, is meant to associate the car with discovering firsts in one's life. But the campaign has the car doing the same thing, as one of the social elements involves Chevrolet building a 160-foot tower out of shipping crates in Long Beach, Calif., from which the Sonic will bungee jump. The car is nudged further toward the edge of the tower with each click people deliver online at the web site. "It gives Sonic a personality since Sonic will do its own firsts." He said there will be celebrities involved in the campaign as well.

The video of the car skydiving will be delivered digitally via an unusual banner ad: a red button that says "Do Not Press." When one does press it, the screen "splits" to a view from a skydiver's helmet and the Sonic plummeting through the air tens of thousands of feet over Arizona.

"People of that age range are all about discovering new things; they have a different mindset; they aren't afraid to take chances," says Scarlett.

Chevrolet is also partnering with a well-known street artist and the Deep Local robotic engineers of Nike Chalk-Bot to build a robotic Sonic that will show up in major markets and create graffiti murals with serpentine robotic arms emerging from the car. "All of that will happen on Google street view, another Sonic first," says Scarlett.

There will also be a product integration program with “Conan,” the Spike TV Video Game Awards, and a partnership with Live Nation.

1 comment about "Chevy's Sonic Campaign Takes Fantastic Voyage ".
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  1. Steve Rotterdam from Bonfire Agency, October 13, 2011 at 2:32 p.m.

    Smart campaign, but the writer neglects to mention that the Sonic debuts today to over 100,000 passionate pop culture geeks at New York Comic Con at the Javits Center. They've got Sonics on display featuring graphic wraps showcasing Dark Horse's The Goon, art by Neal Adams and more – including a Sonic that'll serve as an artist's canvas throughout the con. Pinpoint pop culture targeting at its finest!

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