Chevrolet Battles Jay Gatsby In Chelsea

I was intrigued by Chevrolet's “Hidden Gems” campaign; so much so that I decided to go see what it was about. So, on Saturday night I hit the Dream Hotel Downtown in New York, where Chevrolet was ensconced in a conference room with a social media team, the whole thing overseen by Matt Scarlett, Chevrolet advertising manager.

Well, first off, the operation was upstaged by the venue. That's no criticism of Chevrolet. The Dream is nouvelle Jay Gatsby: meatpacking-district trust funders, celebrities, hip-hop cash and Eurotrash of the first water. It's not a hotel for the kids unless the kids happen to be Hiltons, and have just been kicked off their connecting flight to St. Moritz for bad behavior. 

Automotively? Maybe not the best place for Chevrolet. Out front there were Maseratis, higher-end Bimmers, Teslas, Ferraris, the odd Lambo, and the really reprehensible people who own them (a couple of kids — judging from accents — just in from the Transvaal stumbled into a Mercedes-Benz SL roadster and peeled out to test their 0-60 on 25th street.) There was even a BMW i8 parked out front. A very important celebrity owned it, the grapevine said.

So in the midst of this, Chevrolet was having to run its program. Yet Scarlett and crew had found a quiet spot on the second floor; a book-lined room with a big conference table, around which sat the social-media team including folks from partner Complex Media. They had been there for hours tracking incoming posts from the 20 or so people out and about in Trax on their tours of the city. 

Not surprisingly, a lot of the posts were about the virtues of 4G LTE WiFi functionality in the Trax. Scarlett told me that the participants were asked to make some mention of the vehicle’s features in some of their posts. Not a hard sell, since, as he explained, the whole thing is about awareness more than a feature-centered pitch on points of consideration. The team arrayed in that room was also serving as a screen to make sure nothing untoward made it to the web site. They didn't, however, screen the participants' posts to their own social networks.

Will it sell cars? Who knows. A program like this is a lot less expensive than TV, and the people Chevrolet is trying to talk Trax with aren't spending tons of time on TV anyway. It also has legs, since it is a content-focused campaign, and one that can be sliced and diced in all kinds of ways, for any number of markets, since just about every place, even New Jersey, has something worth seeing that most people don't know about. My in-laws live in New Jersey, so I can say that. Scarlett says Chevrolet may expand the program to involve other vehicles. Also, there's a program with BuzzFeed in the works around — what else — lists. And in Chicago, he says, there's a cool interactive out-of-home program Chevrolet is testing that lets you engage with a city map to find destinations. 

While I think the campaign makes sense for Trax, I think the venue makes sense for Cadillac. The GM luxury/performance brand is based in New York, and is marketing around urban bona fides. And here’s a high concentration of young, affluent people who clearly like performance cars. Cadillac is focusing on V-Series this year. I’d put a V-Series up against an SL any day. Especially on 25th Street. And no cops.

1 comment about "Chevrolet Battles Jay Gatsby In Chelsea".
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  1. Jonathan Hutter from Northern Light Health, April 28, 2015 at 9:49 a.m.

    Somebody's been drinking some kool-aid. "City-smart" plus "SUV" plus "On-demand AWD." Three oxymorons at once. Most people in NYC who are in Chevy's target can't even afford the parking space for this car.

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