Chevrolet's CMO: Big Brands Should Do Big Things

Chevrolet is on a roll this year and it's about as busy as an auto brand can be, with several launches on tap for next year. There's a marketing campaign for the Silverado in progress as we speak; a mid-cycle redo of the Malibu (just revealed), improving size and with the kinks worked out; a new Impala. The company is also back in the Super Bowl, and is finding its way back with Facebook, after having ditched both last year. Retail sales are up 8.8%, as well. Marketing Daily talks to global CMO Tim Mahoney about what's on tap and what's driving success. 

Q: You guys were out of the Super Bowl this year. Now back for 2014. In your words, what makes it a good buy, instead of just an expensive one, as your predecessor articulated it.

A: One time per year, people tune in to watch the ads as much -- or more than -- the game, and that's the Super Bowl. But it's also at the the highest levels where brands make a statement, and with the number of launches we have coming we felt it made sense to go back in. 



Q: But some might say it's an expensive one-shot deal. 

A: It used to be a one-time phenomenon; you'd watch an ad on the Super Bowl, and it’s over. Now it's spread out, and the reach is bigger, and with social media it has a long life after the event. The other important piece of it is it's not just a North American phenomenon, it's global -- so when you think of it from those perspectives it's a smart buy. We are a mass brand and a big brand; big brands have to do big things. But we aren't just going in with six ads, its pretty focused — we are going with two spots, two 60-second ads. 

Q: You started experimenting with Facebook again this year. Why are you back?

A: We are sort of finding our way back with them. We will be using it in the Malibu campaign coming up shortly. When you think of vehicle groups and customer types, it's a great way of fostering a sense of community.

Q: How do you decide on social media platforms?

A: The right vehicle for the right platform; understanding who we built the vehicle for; how they live their lives. Some products are much younger and will have much more of a social media play with them, whereas, say, the Silverado buyer? Sure, they use the Internet -- but it's much more of a TV audience. It's matching the car to how its potential consumer uses [media] technology. 

Q: GM zoomed into the 89th spot on Interbrand Best Global Brands ranking... 

A: That's right. We're right around Ralph Lauren, Gap, ahead of Starbucks. 

Q: To what do you attribute that improvement?

A: It's consistency, it's the globalization of Chevrolet, the appointment of Alan Batey [to SVP Global Chevrolet], a reduction in the number of agencies and one point of view. It's our growth -- we're one of the fastest-growing auto brands. And our core group of vehicles holds their brand value. For years we had cars that weren't really Chevrolets. Now they are.

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