Chevrolet, citing a reevaluation of its marketing efforts, has backed out of its longstanding sponsorship of the Woodward Dream Cruise, a classic car celebration that honors the Motor City's heritage.
General Motors' biggest brand quietly pulled its sponsorship several months ago, after six years as the event's nameplate sponsor, a spokeswoman said.
The annual event features about 40,000 muscle cars, street rods and earlier classic vehicles along the Detroit area's Woodward Avenue and draws estimated crowds of more than 1 million.
Steve Majoros, director of marketing for Chevrolet, said the company's decision to cease sponsorship comes after re-analyzing how marketing dollars are spent.
"If you try to do everything, water all the flowers, everything withers," he said, adding that Chevrolet will refocus the funding on building a bigger platform and portfolio with its consumer base.
The automaker is concentrating marketing efforts on dealership participation and youth sports by encouraging dealerships to support local baseball and soccer clinics for kids, for example.
"These things truly align with Chevy's core values," Majoros said.
Chevrolet will still have a presence at the event and continue to showcase vehicles with displays north of Detroit in Birmingham and Royal Oak, two cities that straddle Woodward.
Though Chevy's presence remains, its fleet of Silverado Rescue Trucks are retiring. The trucks were piloted by mechanics to assist stalled or broken-down cruisers along the 16-mile stretch.
The Dream Cruise, in its 23rd year, spans through the Detroit suburbs from Ferndale up to Pontiac and takes place this year on Aug 19.
Chevrolet in 2011 became the presenter of the event after clinching a three-year sponsorship deal with the Woodward Dream Cruise. The deal reportedly cost over $1 million, The Detroit News reported. A Chevrolet spokesman told Automotive News last year that the six-year sponsorship had been "a natural fit."
A Chevrolet spokesperson declined to comment on the details of the agreement.
Before Chevrolet, Motor City Casino held the presenting sponsor spot for $80,000 a year, according to The Detroit News.
Many visitors may be unaware of the lack of sponsorship with Chevy's billboards, advertisements and displays still featured along the strip.
"We have to look at this from a 'go to market' resource standpoint and say 'what's the best way for us to go to market given the portfolio we have?'" Majoros said.
Mike Wayland contributed to this report.