General Motors’ board of directors has approved the automaker’s request to increase ad spending for recent new car launches made by the company’s flagship brand, Chevrolet. Top Chevy executives had argued that the automaker’s recent financial difficulties, including the government bailout and bankruptcy, overshadowed the launches of three nameplates.
Brent Dewar, Chevy’s global operations chief, told attendees at last week’s Reuters Autos Summit, “Last year we launched Camaro, Equinox and Traverse – all three successful in the marketplace – but didn’t really have a chance of telling the story to consumers.”
He said that the plan to substantially increase Chevy’s marketing budget dovetails with GM’s “May the Best Car Win” campaign which boldly challenges consumers to compare their products with any on the market.
Dewar said the distractions of the last year have resulted in lower awareness of Chevy’s new product line among new car buyers. He said, “We were in the launch last year during our financial crisis and we just didn’t get a chance to tell the story, so I am going to try to do that.”
Since receiving approval from GM’s board, Dewar has begun meeting with advertising agencies vying for a share of the global marketing budget. He said that Chevy intends to maintain its 80-year relationship with Detroit-based Campbell-Ewald advertising and will retain them as the company’s agency of record.
Since shedding its Pontiac, Saab, Saturn and Pontiac brands this past summer, the success of GM hinges on Chevy’s success more than ever.
Chevy has long been the mass-market brand in GM’s stable. Offering a broad diversity of vehicles ranging from pickups to compact to sports cars it currently accounts for about 50% of GM’s sales. According to Dewar, Chevy’s share is expected to grow to 70% in the coming years.
Dewar was appointed to his current position with Chevrolet this past July after GM emerged from fast-track restructuring bankruptcy. Prior to that, he had served as head of sales for GM’s European operations.
In an effort to gain market share in overseas markets, Dewar said that Chevy has dropped its five-year-old “An American Revolution” tagline which he says “doesn’t play a global basis.” Some fear that it may take more than a catchy new tagline to sway American consumers who have become increasingly skeptical of GM. The combination of the federal bailout package, bankruptcy and ongoing wrangling over dealer closings has left a bad taste in many consumers’ mouths.
Catchy slogans and increased awareness of recent model launches aside, many believe the success or failure of the Chevy Volt plug-in, gas-electric hybrid will in large part determine the automakers fate. The Volt is scheduled to launch next year.