Why Chevy's new advertising road looks promising

Automotive News | February 11, 2013 - 11:22 am EST

ORLANDO -- Opinions on what flavors and themes should infuse Chevy's brand messaging are as diverse as its sprawling vehicle lineup.

Play on heritage, and you signal that your best days are behind you. Identify Chevy with technology like the Volt, and risk appeasing the greenies at the expense of your core pickup owners. Some of Chevy's best new vehicles are small, fuel-sipping cars like the Sonic – but the Corvette Stingray looks pretty good, too.

How do you stitch those brand attributes together under a unified creative-advertising theme?

That's Chevy's task with its global "Find New Roads" campaign, which bowed last night with 90-second and 60-second spots during the Grammy Awards.

My first impression: It gives some hope to the considerable number of dealers and Chevy loyalists who've been lamenting the brand's aimless creative for a while now.

OK, I know. Some of this stuff will be polarizing. I mean, it does end with a deer Eskimo-kissing a robotic dog. And because it's a so-called anthem spot, aimed at casting an aura around the whole brand by featuring multiple cars, there's a herky-jerky feel that asks the viewer to hang in there for a long time.

But you won't be seeing that 90-second spot much -- each snippet featuring the Volt, Spark, Sonic, Impala and Corvette will be spun into 30-second standalone commercials for those nameplates.

Here's why I think the stuff, created by Chevy's Detroit-based ad agency, Commonwealth, shows some promise:

1) It injects a bit of emotion back into Chevy's message.

That's largely been lacking in Chevy's recent creative -- it's a common gripe I hear from dealers about the current "Malibu State of Mind" commercials. Using emotion can be risky. But it can pay off when done right (see Chrysler and Subaru).

2) The product shines.

For example, the public gets its first on-air glimpses of the Impala via a black-and-white vignette that shows handsome profile shots of the sedan, set to Frank Sinatra's "Fly Me To The Moon." It's a contemporary way to leverage the nostalgia that remains so important to Chevy.

At the end, the product focus is driven home with a simple voiceover from actor John Cusack:

"With the best lineup of vehicles ever, introducing the new Chevrolet."

For whatever it's worth, the reaction has been favorable based on responses from more than 100,000 views on YouTube. (That's a pittance compared to the views it would have gotten had GM suited up for this year's Super Bowl, but that's another story).

Check it out for yourself. What do you think?

Mike Colias covers General Motors for Automotive News.Mike Colias covers General Motors for Automotive News.

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