NEW YORK -- Chevrolet plans to stick with those "Real people, not actors" commercials, convinced the lighthearted focus-group theme is improving the brand's image.
The format, now in place for about 18 months, is "super sticky and flexible" and has put the brand on more people's shopping lists, Chevy global marketing chief Tim Mahoney said on the sidelines of the auto show here last week.
"We don't have different campaigns for different products. We don't treat trucks differently than we treat cars," Mahoney said. "The dealers are all on board."
He said the format will be applied with a new twist for the marketing launch of the redesigned 2017 Cruze compact sedan, which should begin arriving in dealerships next month.
The marketing hook started in the fall of 2014 in long-form online videos of real people sharing real thoughts on the coolness of Chevy Colorado drivers. It has since been adapted to pitch everything from OnStar and Apple CarPlay to the Volt plug-in hybrid. The format migrated from the focus-group studio to an outdoor setting for some Silverado commercials, in which pickup drivers opted for Chevy's 4G LTE broadband signal over a wood-paneled trailer with fax machine hitched to an Internet-free Ford F-150.
Another frequently aired spot had real people guessing that an unbadged 2016 Malibu sedan was a Lexus or BMW. Mahoney partly credits the heavy advertising support for the redesigned Malibu's fast start since its December launch: The nameplate's sales were up 40 percent through February.
Mahoney said the Cruze commercials that will begin airing in April will target millennials and play up the Cruze's connectivity features. He said the overall campaign, which also includes online elements, has led to "a big shift in opinion about the brand."
"Changing people's minds about a brand that's been around for 105 years is challenging," he said. "But we can see it in the consideration numbers."
The campaign runs under the broader "Find New Roads" tag line, which began three years ago and serves as both a marketing theme and a motto for Chevy's executives and employees, Mahoney said.
"Find New Roads," he said, "is the glue that holds everything together."