Chevy Goes Bi-Coastal

DETROIT General Motors has hired Translation Consultation and Brand Imaging to help court a younger crowd in urban areas, where the Chevrolet brand has had limited reach.

New York-based Translation specializes in matching stars with products, and GM feels it has the wares, with its Chevy HHR, Cobalt, Aveo and Equinox. But the models are underperforming in larger cities on each coast, including Miami, New York, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

“We have talked about the effort to revitalize our marketing efforts here in North America and one of the ways is to reach out in these areas,” a GM representative said. In other words, to court younger buyers through celebrities.

Translation has in the past hooked up Jay-Z with Reebok, Gwen Stefani with Hewlett-Packard, Justin Timberlake with McDonald’s and Beyonce with Tommy Hilfiger, the company said.

“We believe Translation can help us continue to better differentiate our brands and connect with the trend-setting youth market,” said Mike Jackson, vp of marketing at GM North America, Detroit, in a statement. “Translation has a proven track record in assisting major brands such as McDonald’s, Reebok, Hewlett-Packard and others to better understand consumers and emerging trends.”

The effort comes as the Big Three carmakers are struggling in general. “Chevrolet is doing well, but it wanted to expand its contact with young adults,” said Translation founder and chief creative officer Stephen Stoute. By that he meant primarily young adult males.

The average age of a Chevrolet owner is 46, according to data from the Power Information Network, the same as the industry’s average.

Translation will work with Campbell-Ewald in Warren, Mich., and GM to assemble a strategy targeting the young, urban demographic. “This is not going to be big-name specific,” Stoute said. “Chevrolet is so big that we could not take it down to one specific act.”

There is no time line or product dedicated to the effort, the GM rep said.

“Chevrolet connects with so many people and so many generations that the Chevrolet name has been in over 200 songs, and what we seek with this brand is to align it with a new car culture,” Stoute said. “Everybody is working on the fast track to start this [whole effort].”