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New Silverado ad campaign touts masculinity

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DETROIT -- Farewell, Bob Seger. Welcome, John Mellencamp.

Chevrolet's new marketing campaign for the Silverado drops the "Like a Rock" tag line the company used for 14 years. The campaign also replaces Seger's commercial anthem with music supplied by Mellencamp, another rocker.

The new campaign, "Long Live the Truck," is aimed at men, who make up 87 percent of the full-sized pickup's buyers. It is heavy on product information.

Chevrolet is bringing the Silverado under the umbrella of its brand advertising campaign, "An American Revolution." Silverado is the last vehicle to be included. The brand campaign is reaching the end of its second year.

'True truck'

New ads call the 2006 Silverado the "one true truck." They emphasize the truck's claim to be "longest lasting -- most dependable."

The Silverado is the second-best-selling vehicle in the United States, trailing only the Ford F series. In the first 10 months of 2005, Chevrolet sold 599,578 Silverados. That was a 4.3 percent increase over the year-ago period.

But October Silverado sales were 39.1 percent below the same month last year. Chevrolet plans to introduce redesigned versions of the Silverado and other large trucks next year.

John Roth, Chevrolet's truck advertising manager, says the Silverado campaign seeks to promote the bond between men and their trucks, at work and play. A TV spot includes the observation: "Men love trucks. Why? Because trucks don't ask why."

The campaign's print advertising includes a 10-page brochure called "Men, Women and the Truck: A Relationship Handbook." The booklet begins: "It's a simple truth. Man's fascination with the truck is hardwired into his DNA."

The insert is appearing in male-oriented magazines such as Men's Health, Field & Stream and Popular Mechanics.

Roth told Automotive News that research suggests the campaign's tongue-in-cheek "is getting across as intended and folks are not being offended."

"Because of the way this truck is used, it's not men in the literal sense -- it's more the masculine," Roth says. "We wanted to poke fun a little bit at the men."

Roth would not disclose the cost of the Silverado campaign. But he says Chevrolet is spending about 10 percent more on the launch than it ordinarily would to advertise the Silverado.

About two-thirds of the campaign budget is earmarked for TV, Roth says. Print ads will get 12 to 16 percent, digital media 5 to 10 percent, and radio about 5 percent, he adds.

Chevrolet spent $437.1 million to advertise in U.S. media in the first six months of 2005, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Focus on product

The campaign touts new features of the Silverado. They include a 345-hp VortecMax engine, enhanced Duramax Diesel, power dome hood and Z71 off-road package, Roth says.

Also new to the campaign is Mellencamp, whose music is appearing in ads for the first time. Launch spots include his song "Now More Than Ever." Other Mellencamp songs may provide the soundtrack for later ads, Roth says.

The Silverado ads also feature National Football League commentator Howie Long, who became a spokesman for Chevrolet trucks in the 2005 model year. Roth says Long will appear in both national and dealer association spots.

Rick Cantalini, managing partner of Vandergriff Chevrolet in Arlington, Texas, says he likes the Silverado campaign's appeal to male buyers.

The Silverado accounts for nearly a third of his dealership's new-vehicle sales, he adds.

"If women are interested in trucks, they are interested in the same attributes as men," Cantalini says. "People who are interested in pickup trucks want them tough and strong, want them to last and hold value, and have luxury features in certain trim levels. It's the right approach."

Jim Sanfilippo, senior industry analyst at AMCI, an automotive consulting firm in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., says the new Silverado ads seek to portray Chevrolet as "an American icon."

Said Sanfilippo: "The notion here is that Chevrolet is an original brand and that there is a uniqueness about the brand."


http://www.autoweek.com/news.cms?newsId=103596
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Gotta admit, Like a Rock is perhaps the most memorable car ad campaign of all time.
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