Sunday, January 13, 2008

Is Chevy getting it?

In cooperation with the NY Times, Chevy bought above one-page ad in today's NY Times and launched a conversational marketing campaign.

Headlined 'We need to talk', the ad copy states:
"At General Motors, we take our responsibility for the environment seriously. If that sounds disingenuous, coming from the world's largest producer of cars and trucks, well, maybe it's time to talk - in depth and frankly. That's what this is: the beginning of a dialogue between people who share a planet. Fact is, we need to talk. We want to talk."
After Chevy explains their various environmental initiatives, they close:
"We expect skepticism. So if you have questions about our fuel solutions, we are ready to answer them. Over the next several months, this dialogue will take place on the web and in the pages of this newspaper. Ask your questions on the web, and we'll answer them, right here in the Friday Op/Ed section of this newspaper. Please submit your questions and comments at nytimes/com/chevy.
These are serious issues. And we are making serious progress. We hope to prove that to you. But we haven't got all the answers. We value your input. And we promise to listen."
The ad is signed by Beth Lowery, GM VP, Environment, Energy and Safety Policy.

The overall idea is good and an interesting evolution of the infamous Chevy Tahoe campaign. But, once again, it falls short:

- When you go to the site, there's only one thing to do: Post a comment. Q&A, the most important section of the site, has not even launched yet.
- Posting a comment doesn't feel like a real conversation. It just feels like another one-way communication. If I have questions, why bother posting on the site? Why not write GM/Chevy directly on their site or through email?
- A real conversation has to be authentic. Even though the ad copy is well written, it doesn't read like a real person wrote it. Too polished, too corporate.
- This feels like a great media idea that wasn't executed well. It's one of those alibi campaigns that give executives a warm, fuzzy feeling: "We're doing a lot about the environment and deploy these cool, new marketing tools, called Conversational Marketing."

The tagline worked really well for the iPhone, great piece of copywriting. To use it as a headline for the Chevy campaign doesn't feel right.

We need to talk? Chevy might but I have no intention to follow their command.

Overall, a good idea and I'm glad Chevy tries to join the conversation. But they fell short. Once again.

P.S.: It might be helpful to include the campaign in search results of NY Times. If you search for Chevy, the campaign doesn't even come up. Only nerdy bloggers like me cut out ads to remember the URL.


Artphile said...

So GM wants to talk about the environment but they are posting their answers in the print version of the NYTimes, one of the biggest sources of inflated circulation in media today? Interesting choice.

Uwe Hook said...

Good point!