There is an article in this week’s Ad Age that is highly critical of the new ad campaign for Chevrolet. Whether you like the ads or not is beside the point. (I have heard the TV spots are actually nicely done. I don’t watch enough TV to be able to offer a personal opinion.)
The real point is: “Will the campaign work?”
This is a trickier question to answer than it might seem and highlights an old debate in the auto industry. Let’s forget advertising that features incentives and other special offers that are clearly focused on creating traffic. The debate centers on whether it is more effective to invest in advertising that features product attributes; or is it better to build brands on a more emotional level.
In my view, with a big enough budget, you would do both. A campaign like Chevy’s is a bit like the well-known Mean Joe Greene for Coke. Both are designed to build connections with the viewers that resonate on an emotional level. In the auto industry, the idea is that when these consumers are ready to buy a vehicle, they are predisposed to lean towards a particular brand. This means a vehicle’s feature/benefit advertising will likely work better and so will any special offers. Even better, the special offers may not have to be quite as generous.
That’s the theory.
In practice, things are a bit trickier. Building these emotional connections is not easy. It is hard to measure success, both because it takes a while (the ads are not designed to produce immediate sales) and because emotional connections are not the most tangible of success metrics.
Hence the debate: Advocates of product feature/benefit advertising might suggest that–considering the difficulties–trying to build these emotional ties is not worth the trouble.
I would imagine that Chevy is putting some serious horsepower behind their efforts. Even advocates of this kind of brand building would have to admit that sooner or later, the value must show up in increased consideration. Perhaps it does take a while but this has to be the goal.
We, of course, are uniquely able to measure consideration. This Chevrolet campaign will make an interesting case study.
You can read the article in Ad Age here.