Shifting Focus

The “American Revolution” campaign is a large-scale effort, which was started in 2004 by General Motors to create an overall branding push for Chevrolet cars and trucks. For many years, Chevy trucks were “Like a rock,” while the tagline for its cars had been, “We’ll be there.”

“American Revolution,” the campaign featuring TV directed by Michael Bay, Guy Ritchie and others, supports the overall Chevy brand as well as 10 model launches. New spots broke in 2004 during the Super Bowl, the summer Olympics and New Year’s Eve. This year, ads have been scheduled around musical events, including the Country Music Awards and the Grammys. Because of the depth of information being conveyed to consumers, marketing executives wanted a strong online presence.

“Our key strategy is to use offline media to drive online traffic,” says Andrea Wells, executive vp/Chevrolet account director at Campbell-Ewald in Warren, Mich. “It was a huge task in terms of communicating product information about all of those vehicles,” she says, adding that the Web was instrumental in getting the products’ messages across.

Chevy chose a unique online presence: Instead of creating a Web site, it created an application, available at, that consumers download and use to play original content. Users can also link to to get more info about the cars. The site was developed specifically to support Chevy’s music promotions, and went live in November to coincide with the broadcast of the Chevy- sponsored Country Music Awards. Chevy created a calendar, which featured country music stars with their vehicles, that ran in People magazine two weeks before the CMAs. Exclusive behind-the-scenes footage shot during the making of the calendar was available online at Chevy Live, so people who downloaded the application could have “access to content they couldn’t get anywhere else,” says Wells. There were also interviews with the musicians and videos.

“We wanted to say, ‘The big dog is back.’ What better way to do that than full-screen video on the computer?'” says Campbell-Ewald’s Stefan Cogler, svp/creative director-new media. And the best way to do that was to come up with their own application, he says, adding, “The desktop is the most valuable piece of real estate out there. We wanted to own a piece of that 24/7.” Web traffic has been brisk, with 360,000 hits since the site went up in November. About 21,000 have installed the application, a 6 percent install rate.

“People are going in and using it. Now the challenge is keeping it fresh, with new content,” Wells says.

They updated the content for New Year’s Eve and the Grammys, but “We’d like to refresh it more regularly,” Wells says. “We’re working with a number of marketing partners to get exclusives on videos, movie trailers, premieres or journals from celebrities. The possibilities are endless.”—Mae Anderson