General Motors' redesigned Chevrolet Impala is rolling into dealerships right now -- and the automaker has high hopes for it as a major draw for people who drive competitive brands, not to mention smaller, larger, or more luxurious vehicles. All this from a segment that was pretty much moribund and is now getting re-animated with vehicles like the new Toyota Avalon, Nissan Maxima, and redesigned Chrysler 300. Chevrolet, which is promoting the vehicle against this major league competition partly via Major League Baseball, had better bat 1,000.
Jon Hahn, Impala marketing manager, tells Marketing Daily that the mid-May launch of the comprehensive campaign for the car is aligned with retail distribution. "We are still delivering the cars to dealers," he says, noting that the effort is also the first global campaign for a new model under the "Find New Roads" nameplate.
There’s a lot of hope riding on the car. Hahn says two-thirds of the sales of the late-model vehicle were to rental and other fleets. "But we expect that to flip -- two-thirds retail. We just expect it to drive a lot of new buyers to showrooms." He says a new strategy for the model will be lease offers, something that Chevrolet never offered for the late model. Initially the focus for that will be metro markets, he says. "Fifty percent of sales in major markets like New York are lease, versus about a quarter nationwide. And we expect to get a lot of conquests from lease."
Hahn adds that he predicts Impala buyers will come from move-ups from the mid-size segment, move-downs from luxury owners looking to get the same features in a less costly vehicle (the new Impala, which competes against vehicles like Chrysler 300, Toyota Avalon, and Nissan Maxima, starts in the high twenties) and also from owners of SUVs. "This car has features Chevrolet has not, until now, had in any of its vehicles." The brand has never, until now, had adaptive cruise control, the next-generation Chevy MyLink connected-car technology, a lockable motorized interface screen, for example.
The company is reaching out to a better-educated, younger and more affluent buyer than purchased the late model. The media strategy focuses on sports, news, travel and fine dining around a "Not Built, But Tailored" theme. Some of the creative direction of the campaign, which will include TV, print, and digital, is evident at a microsite, Chevybaseball.com. The site aligns the car with "the craft of baseball" via a series of videos about the finer points, like the trainer and groundskeeper -- and the game’s crafted accoutrements like the baseball, bat, gloves, and uniforms. There's also an All-Star Sweepstakes running through May 15.