Chevy Is Tapping Into IBM’s Watson to Fuel People’s Positivity, and Their Cars

Campaign meant to help travelers 'find new roads'

Chevrolet wants people to see life—and their gas tanks—as half full instead of half empty.

Just in time for International Day of Positive Thinking, the Detroit-based automaker is launching a campaign to help the optimists of the world "find new roads." Partnering with IBM, Chevy built the Chevrolet Global Positivity System (conveniently abbreviated as GPS), which uses Watson's cognitive capabilities to analyze people's social media channels to see what kind of positivity they're pumping out.

While anyone can access the Chevy GPS online, the company has also activated several gas stations around the world to surprise visitors with free gas. Based on an analysis by Watson of the words and emojis people use on various social media channels, visitors to the selection of stations will be rewarded with a certain amount of free fuel. But, in order to boost everyone's mood, Chevy says even those whose online personalities are more negative in nature won't go away with an empty tank.

Chevy is initially temporarily taking over gas stations in New Orleans, Cape Town and Buenos Aires, but he initiative is also planned for other markets including Canada, Dubai and South Korea.

"We hope that people will start to understand who we are as a company and what we stand for," Karen Toor, Chevrolet's global content marketing manager, told Adweek. "Our tagline is not just a tagline—it's a philosophy."

The tagline, "Find new roads," isn't new, but Toor said it's the first time Chevy has built a global campaign around it. It's now also helping users find both literal and metaphorical roads. Along with analyzing their social media moods, Watson will also provide suggestions for new adventures to go on based on their personalities and interests. 

It's not the first time Chevy has partnered with Watson—the companies have worked together in the past for market research and consumer-behavior analyses—but is the first time they've done anything consumer-facing together, Toor said. She also said the analysis from Watson's Personality Insights and AlchemyLanguage APIs were surprisingly accurate.

"I did mine, and i would say it basically 90 percent represents who I am," Toor said, "even though I don't share much of what I say in social."