Chevy Tries Human Touch

In a Brandweek story about a new Chevrolet campaign, Feb. 16, 2010, the headline erroneously suggested the General Motors brand dropped Howie Long as a spokesman. Long’s agent said the Fox NFL analyst has “multiple years” left on his endorsement contract with Chevy and will appear in upcoming TV commercials for the automaker.

Publicis has debuted its first work for Chevrolet’s Malibu, Equinox and Traverse models since winning that car assignment from General Motors in December.
Chevy spokesman Fox NFL analyst Howie Long is not appearing in the current round of ads. “The American revolution” tagline used in previous work, created by Chevy’s longtime lead agency, Interpublic’s Campbell-Ewald, is also on hiatus. Instead, 30-second TV spots, via Publicis in Dallas and Seattle, display a human touch. The ads tie the relaunched car models to the people who use them.

In one ad dubbed “Breadcrumbs,” a balloon tied to an Equinox invites a couple of children to look in the glove box, which sets off a scavenger hunt in the car. The kids find hidden DVDs that they watch on the backseat entertainment system. Their dad (who hid the discs) calls to wish them a good trip, which conveniently highlights the backseat phone speakers, as the children drive away with mom.

In “You and Me,” a father takes his young daughter out of family household chaos and places her in her usual spot in the back row of seats in a Traverse. He decides to move her closer to the next row of seats, underscoring the size of the vehicle, and she looks around the car and its sunroof, wide-eyed.

Another ad, called “Dependable Friends,” touts Chevy’s newly designed Malibu, and shows a stylish young woman rescuing a friend from a bad date.

All the imagery in the commercials alternates between the human stories and close-ups of vehicle details. There is no unifying tagline. Print ads will break after the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games.

“We invite consumers into people’s lives and the instrumental role Chevy plays in their lives,” said Stephanie Ouyoumjian, evp, director of strategy at Publicis, of the new spots.
Bob Moore, chief creative officer at Publicis USA, added: “Chevy is synonymous with America and has always been closely aligned with modern American families. We’ve used very human, intimate, family moments–those that often happen in the enclosed environment of the family car–to capture the spirit of the Chevy. We believe modern families will relate to these special life moments, and connect with Chevy.”
When Chevrolet hired Publicis, it said the agnecy would work alongside Campbell-Ewald for the first half of the year.

Campbell-Ewald continues to create work for the carmaker’s Silverado and Silverado HD trucks, as well as some Olympics branding work and Chevy’s retail business. The vehicle-specific creative from both agencies will run through the second quarter.

In December, Malibu, Equinox and Traverse contributed to a 14 percent increase in Chevrolet’s retail sales as compared to the year earlier. Malibu increased 34 percent; Traverse rose 92 percent; and Equinox grew 137 percent. Chevrolet spends approximately $300 million advertising the three car brands annually, per the Nielsen Co.