General Motors on July 4 will kick off its biggest launch of the last six-plus years, with the debut of the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado. The campaign breaks in Texas, where one in six U.S. pickup trucks are sold, and features actual Chevy owners. The tone of the Independence Day spot, with a soundtrack “Strong” from Nashville singer and songwriter Will Hoge, is meant to communicate self-reliance, determination, family and helping others.
“We’re taking back the soulfulness of the category,” said Chris Perry, vp of U.S. Chevrolet marketing. “It reflects the values of our audience. A man and his truck equals ‘strong.’ ”
Commercials will go national July 15 on ESPN during Major League Baseball’s Home Run Derby, which was just renamed after Chevrolet became its title sponsor. The spots will also appear in the All-Star game the next night on Fox. Additional ads will narrow in on product attributes.
The launch, which was expected to be handled by Silverado agency Leo Burnett, was instead created by Chevy shop Commonwealth, which oversaw the truck brand before it was moved in December. Linus Karlsson, the Swedish, pickup-driving, top creative at McCann Erickson who is central to Commonwealth, had set out to get the business back, and this was an important coup. The Silverado is GM’s largest selling vehicle in the U.S. as American big pick-up trucks are surging, with sales this year through May up 21 percent versus the year-ago period, according to Autodata Corp. Silverado has seen an increase of 24 percent in sales this year.
While Perry said the idea for the new campaign came from Commonwealth, upcoming work is being produced by Burnett. “Commonwealth is our global Chevrolet agency. This spot is as much about Chevrolet as it is Silverado,” he said. The initial commercial uses the tag “Strong for all the roads ahead,” which dovetails with Commonwealth’s “Find New Roads” positioning for the Chevy brand.
The Silverado’s recent marketing has been more focused on product features. With the new 2014 Silverado campaign, the brand stakes out that rational approach along with emotional appeal. When asked about competitors, Perry sized them up this way: Ford, manufacturer of the category’s No. 1 F-150 pickup, has been more presumptive in its portrayal as a category leader, while the Chrysler Ram is coming off a challenger positioning. “Nothing wrong with what they’re doing," he said. "We just feel there’s an opportunity to do something in between. We think it’s important to connect and reflect the values of our target audience.”
Excluding digital ad expenditures, GM spent $350 million last year behind Silverado, according to Nielsen. GM won't say what it's spending this time, but not only is the 2014 Silverado the company’s biggest launch this year in terms of marketing spending, it’s also the largest in reach: In addition to extensive broadcast, it also includes digital, print and experiential elements. Interactive Silverado displays and ride and drives began in June across Texas. Nationally, Silverado will woo customers at Nascar races, music venues and sporting events.