GM: Chevy, Caddy Drive To Super Bowl

CadillacGeneral Motors is putting TV's biggest spotlight on Chevrolet and Cadillac with its Super Bowl ad buy on Feb. 5. But the mileage it gets from the game-day juggernaut comprising ads before the game, four ads in the game, and two after may well come from how the ads are integrated with the automaker's digital and social-media programs prior to, on, and after Super Bowl Sunday.

Joel Ewanick, global head of marketing for the automaker, tells Marketing Daily that a major play for Chevrolet on Feb. 5 is to spark Millennials' interest through ads for the Chevy Sonic car. One of Chevrolet's three spots in the game is focused on the car. That and a second in-game spot are the capstones on digital efforts over the past weeks and months. The second ad is the winner of a global crowd-sourcing creative competition, "Chevrolet Route 66" ( The third spot is all about Chevy trucks.



The Sonic ad is a mosaic of video assets from the car's digital campaign aimed squarely at younger consumers -- who, if they aren't dreaming about base jumping, skydiving, X-games, and other extreme pursuits, are watching them on YouTube videos.

The ad shows extreme stunts Chevy did with the car, such as strapping a parachute to it and rolling it out of an airplane; having it bungee-jump from a stack of shipping containers (consumers could go online and move it toward the precipice with keystrokes); having a famed skateboarder drive it up a ramp and corkscrew-flip it over a giant skateboard; and use it to play music.

"We have basically taken all of the digital launch videos for Sonic over the last four or five months and put them into a TV spot. Millennials will love it; the research is off the charts," he says.

Ewanick says the music element will be blown out as a separate campaign featuring the ersatz band "OK Go," which also appears in the spot.

In the post-game broadcast, an ad for the Sonic plays on bugs getting caught in the car's grill as it drives along. But in this spot they are deliberately jumping on the grill to get a joy ride. Ewanick says post-game viewership is no small potatoes. "We expect between 20 and 25 million will watch."

The company decided to focus on the Sonic and its Millennial target rather than, say, the new Malibu for the Super Bowl because 40% of all cars sold in the U.S. will be bought by Millennials in coming years, per Ewanick. "We need to start building a relationship with them now. They will be buying cars in other segments seven years from now. It's a major strategic decision for us. Yes, we had stuff as much or more pressing, but this is a more strategic, long-term strategy for us."

Ewanick says the number of views of the 34 Chevrolet Route 66 finalist spots -- submitted by indie filmmakers around the world and curated by UK-based Mofilms -- hit the stratosphere after last Sunday night. That's because Chevrolet launched a TV ad for its "Chevy Game Time App" on the Sunday night NFC playoff game between the New York Giants and the San Francisco ’49ers.

According to Ewanick, that "Chevy Game Time" TV spot is doing double duty, not only driving downloads of the app (through which Chevrolet will engage fans during the game and the day after with trivia questions and prizes, including the chance to win one of 20 cars), but also driving traffic to the Route 66 site itself, where consumers are stopping to watch the ads. "It's working beautifully," says Ewanick. "[On Wednesday], we got two million views of the [Route 66 winning spot] 'Happy Grad' alone," he says. "We got six million views of the all of the ads yesterday alone."

To put it in perspective, from the launch on Dec. 22 up until Sunday, the Route 66 site had garnered something over 30 million views of the 34 finalist Mofilms-sourced Chevrolet ads. But by around Tuesday, per Ewanick, that number was up to 45 million. He says views are now at around the 51.6-million mark. "That's 10% in one day. The beauty of it is, they aren't going to Facebook and clicking out to go elsewhere. They are staying in the site for a good, long time -- in the 10-minute range."

For Cadillac, the company has grabbed prime positioning in the game to introduce the Cadillac ATS to viewers. The car, which Cadillac unveiled in Detroit early this month, competes in a critical high-volume region of the luxury market that pits Cadillac for the first time directly against BMW 3-Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class cars. 

The ATS ad, at the two-minute warning point where viewership potential is at its highest, eschews humor for a straightforward performance play. The ad, "Green Hell," has the Cadillac ATS screaming around turns on the German Nürburgring test-drive circuit. "We are going to the heart of Germany, right on top of BMW," says Ewanick. The ad says that if people doubt the ATS performs as well as advertised, "tell them to go to Green Hell [the grass-flanked Nürburgring.]"

"This car is strategically the most important in our history," says Ewanick, adding that the ATS effort will include a new web site featuring video content about the car's development and manufacturing. The campaign will roll out through the spring and into the Olympics. General Motors, a lead sponsor of the summer games, will promote Chevrolet for about 80% of the automaker's media commitment there.

The automaker is also going on the offensive to promote the Chevy Volt gas/electric car. Most of the Volt effort is serious in tone and political in import. It includes an open letter from GM's CEO Dan Akerson in major papers this week and a new spot touting the car's virtues as a community builder and symbol of American technology know-how.

But a post-game ad for the car takes a humorous turn, with aliens showing up in a guy's garage at night to steal his technology. The guy, it turns out, is used to these extraterrestrial intrusions.

Says Ewanick: "We are going to be talking a lot in coming weeks about what the car means, in terms of innovation and technology to us, to the city, the state, and the country. We will talk about why the car is so safe, its features in the car, the fact that it earned the highest crash test rating you can get, and we'll just hammer it home over the next couple of weeks. We are explaining that this is the next logical step in electrification of the automobile.”

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