Chevy ad campaign touts Malibu style
SAN FRANCISCO -- Chevrolet is heading into an epic mid-sized sedan battle with an advertising campaign that plugs its Malibu as a stylish alternative to the Honda Accord and other rivals.
A new commercial for the 2013 Malibu shows the redesigned sedan cruising through pastoral hills with a slender, sleeveless woman behind the wheel. Unlike new spots from the Accord and Nissan Altima, which tout fuel economy and safety features, the "Malibu State of Mind" campaign zeroes in on the car's look and feel: "sleek" new styling with "sport-sculpted seats" and "refined comfort."
"If you put the Malibu next to the brand-new Accord or Camry and think about which one you want to park in your driveway, I don't think it's that close of a call," Chevy global marketing chief Chris Perry told Automotive News at a media event here last week.
Perry: Malibu’s success is vital to Chevrolet, GM
Perry acknowledges that the success of the next-generation Malibu is "hugely important" for the brand and General Motors amid perhaps the stiffest competition ever in the mid-sized sedan segment, the largest U.S. car segment.
The next-generation versions of the Accord and Ford Fusion now are landing in showrooms. The redesigned Toyota Camry arrived last year. To rise from its No. 5 spot in the segment, the Malibu must retain current owners and draw new ones.
Perry believes the Malibu's taut, more-muscular styling can extend the edge that the sedan already has among female buyers.
Chevrolet has partnered with New York fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi to launch a fashion line, "Malibu Style," to be released this fall.
The campaign also marks a fresh start for what many dealers view as a muted launch of the redesigned Malibu.
GM had hoped to get a jump on its rivals by launching the Malibu's Eco version, which features its mild hybrid system called eAssist, in March. The idea: Get the Malibu's fresh sheet metal in front of shoppers early, before the August arrival of the Malibu's volume model, which has a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine. A third engine choice, a 2.0-liter turbo, began shipping last week.
Many dealers contend that the pull-ahead plan backfired. The 2013 Malibu Eco largely sat ignored in showrooms as dealers sold down the outgoing 2012 models at steep discounts. Dealers say that has added a sense of urgency to the new campaign, which began in mid-September.
GM already has aired two Malibu commercials and plans three more, all created by Commonwealth, Chevy's main creative ad agency, which is a joint venture between Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and McCann Erickson Worldwide. The spots will get heavy use during NFL games and the upcoming baseball playoffs.
Perry wouldn't say how much GM will spend on the campaign or whether it would rival the budget for the late 2007 launch of the last Malibu redesign, which topped $100 million, according to a person familiar with the launch.
"Everyone is launching right now and throwing around some big numbers," Perry says. "We will not be drowned out."
You can reach Mike Colias at email@example.com.