Three vehicles — the Kia Soul, Chevrolet Cruze and Jeep Wrangler — are among America's 25 hottest brands that "sizzle from strong sales, big buzz, savvy marketing," according to Advertising Age. Among other products on the magazine's list are Warby Parker eyewear, Malt-O-Meal cereal, Arizona Tea and Chegg, which rents college textbooks. Advertising Age, like Automotive News, is published by Crain Communications Inc.
Redefining an automotive category -- the compact class in the case of the Chevrolet Cruze -- is a challenge for an automaker, especially when the benchmarks include such competitors as the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic.
Since its debut, the stately four-door Cruze has been aimed at a dual audience of younger buyers and a middle-aged crowd, said Cristi Landy, marketing director for small cars for Chevrolet. And it has found its target: The nameplate has sold 215,057 units in the United States this year through November, making it General Motors' hottest-selling car, ahead of the Malibu, which sold 191,774 in the same period.
A launch campaign by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners emphasized the Cruze Eco's fuel efficiency -- 40-plus mpg -- and a tag line that it is achieved "by sacrificing nothing." Media spending by Chevrolet totaled more than $1.1 billion last year, according to Advertising Age data.
"We had to establish a new name, had to get awareness out there and break through against the Civic and Corolla," Landy said.
She readily concedes that timing helped propel the Cruze initially, because of a shortage of Japanese-branded cars affected by the tsunami and earthquake in March and a lukewarm reception to Honda's redesigned bread-and-butter model, the 2012 Civic.