CHEVROLET AT SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST by Fleishman Hillard for Chevrolet

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CHEVROLET AT SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST

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Industry Cars
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market United States
Agency Fleishman Hillard
Account Supervisor Karah Street
Released August 2012

Credits & Description

Category: Best Integrated Campaign Led by PR
Advertiser: GENERAL MOTORS
Product/Service: CAR MANUFACTURER
Senior Vice President and Partner: Matt Dickman (Fleishman-Hillard)
Senior Vice President: Mike Cearley (Fleishman-Hillard)
Senior Vice President: Valerie Dickman (Fleishman-Hillard)
Project Manager: Cindy Townsend (Fleishman-Hillard)
Vice President: Miker Stovall (Fleishman-Hillard)
Vice President: Warren Purifoy (Fleishman-Hillard)
Vice President: Rob Boles (Fleishman-Hillard)
Senior Vice President: Herb Sawyer (Fleishman-Hillard)
Senior Account Executive: Chris Wilson (Fleishman-Hillard)
Account Supervisor: Karah Street (Stratacomm (Fleishman-Hillard))
Senior Account Executive: Sarah Byrkit (Fleishman-Hillard)
Account Executive: Chrissie Saunder (Fleishman-Hillard)
Account Executive: Marc Matthews (Fleishman-Hillard)
Senior Account Executive: Christian Tobler (Fleishman-Hillard)
Assistant Account Executive: Laralane McCain (Fleishman-Hillard)
Assistant Account Executive: Sarah Fulton (Fleishman-Hillard)
Assistant Account Executive: Matt Weir (Fleishman-Hillard)
Senior Coordinator: Inez Cruz (Fleishman-Hillard)
Media placement: Road Trip Release - Examiner, CNET, ABC7 Detroit, Yaffe Tidbits, Lansing Noise - 9 February 2010
Media placement: Activation Release - CNET, PRWeek, USA Today's Technology Live, Media Post, AdWeek, Detroit Free Pres - 9 March 2010
Media placement: Wrap-Up Review - Ad Age - March 2010
Media placement: Event - Facebook, Twitter, Blogs - March 2010

Summary of the Campaign
Facing declining market share in the wake of the company's high-profile bankruptcy, General Motors (GM) saw the need to attract new buyers and create fresh excitement about its brand. The American automaker was striving to connect with a younger audience and leverage digital communications to create product buzz. To achieve these goals, GM made its Chevrolet division a major sponsor of the South by Southwest Conferences (SXSW), America's premier interactive event and a convergence of original music, independent film, and emerging technologies.

Chevrolet engaged conference participants by staging a road trip contest, creating a stylish lounge for people to socialize while recharging their electronic devices, enabling visitors to use smartphones to scan Quick Response (QR) codes on Chevrolet cars for access to interactive product information, partnering with a geolocation service to provide attendees with free airport rides, and showcasing innovations like the revolutionary Chevy Volt long-range electric vehicle.

During the nine-day event, the campaign generated 60 million social media impressions, 33,500 company webpage views, 8,700 Chevrolet fans on Facebook, 1,200 Twitter followers, and thousands of online posts and Tweets. The enthusiastic responses helped GM expand its social media presence and influence the perception of Chevrolet among trendsetting consumers.

The Situation
General Motors, the largest carmaker in the US, was losing domestic market share to competitors, who were offering trendier vehicles aimed at first-time buyers. The company collapsed into bankruptcy in 2009, hurting sales further and tarnishing its reputation. GM was responding with the launch of sportier, greener cars through its Chevrolet brand but was continuing to struggle with a stodgy image, an aging customer base, and brand issues stemming from its bankruptcy.

The Goal
To attract younger drivers, Chevrolet management committed to spending 30% of its marketing budget on digital communications. They looked for an opportunity to run a test pilot campaign, in which tech-savvy consumers could experience Chevrolet's latest vehicles and GM could capture their reactions through social media. The company set a campaign goal of generating positive online discussion of Chevrolet products and recruiting more brand enthusiasts.

The Strategy
South by Southwest, America's leading creative event, emerged as an ideal platform for GM's comeback. The demographics of the more than 30,000 registrants lean heavily toward the young and affluent. The participants represent music, film, software, marketing, publishing, electronic commerce, and social media industries. SXSW takes place in Austin, Texas - a high-tech hub - and draws people from across the US and abroad. GM formulated a plan for displaying its most exciting vehicles and allowing visitors to experience them through rides and drives. To advance its digital strategy, GM developed a SXSW website and social media channels dedicated to the event.

Execution
The conference spanned nine days in March 2010. GM's campaign employed diverse tactics, including:

- Supplying eight teams with vehicles to drive from their hometowns to SXSW and compete in various challenges determined by Twitter followers.
- Enabling participants to get behind the wheel of the Chevy Volt before the car headed into full production.
- Providing information in a novel way by affixing QR codes to the show cars that, when photographed with a smartphone, launched microsites featuring vehicle overviews.
- Equipping a themed seating area with recharging stations and space to meet other people.
- Partnering with geolocation service Gowalla and inviting users to "check in" from their phones to receive complimentary airport transfers and special offers from GM.
- Deploying a wide fleet of Chevy vehicles to provide free rides around Austin.
- Releasing a smartphone application for viewing three-dimensional augmented reality Chevrolet cars on the streets of Austin.

Documented Results
The campaign proceeded according to plan and surpassed the company's expectations, achieving the following results:

- Generating 61.1 million social media impressions.
- Eliciting 13,000 Tweets and 1,200 blog posts.
- Driving 33,500 page views on Chevrolet's SXSW website and Facebook page, with users posting 250 videos and more than 300 favourable comments.
- Recruiting 8,700 new Facebook fans and 1,200 Twitter followers.
- Attracting 370 interactions with the QR codes, automatically providing vehicle product information to each user.
- Generating more than 80 million impressions from over 250 traditional media placements.

The documented results demonstrate the success of Chevrolet's first major experiment pairing social media with traditional marketing, and the campaign served as an important test pilot for GM's future digital communication efforts. Validating the achievement, a story in Ad Age recognized General Motors as South by Southwest's biggest marketing winner, citing blogs, Twitter users, and other media outlets.