When Chris Budion got an invitation from Chevrolet for an all-expense-paid trip to Jackson Hole, Wyo., to test drive the 2019 Chevy Silverado, he thought it was too good to be true, like some kind of timeshare trap.
"We all got the invitation and thought this might be some kind of gimmick," said Budion, a 2017 Silverado owner from suburban Minneapolis who attended the program with about 30 other members of the Chevy Truck Legends program, which recognizes longtime owners and repeat buyers. "Everyone thought there had to be a hook in there that we were all going to be expected to sign up for a new truck before we left Wyoming."
There wasn't. In fact, while the event generated social media posts and a video to share with Truck Legends members, there were no formal focus groups or footage filmed for the brand's long-running "Real People, Not Actors" ad campaign. Just truck owners and their guests talking and driving trucks through the hills and wilderness of Wyoming.
"It's a really great way to excite everybody," said Hugh Milne, Chevrolet Silverado marketing manager. "We don't try to sell these people anything."
The Jackson Hole event last month was one of the most elaborate endeavors for the Truck Legends program, part of an expanding experiential marketing strategy that GM is pursuing to build community and greater loyalty among owners. Through the program, launched in Texas in 2016 and rolled out nationally last year, the brand has invited truck owners to vehicle reveals, NASCAR races and special drive programs, among other events, for free.