For Silverado campaign, Chevy gets playful in print

January 14, 2019 5:00 am

DETROIT — Marketers at Chevrolet might reasonably expect their redesigned Silverado pickup to make the cover of Truck Trend magazine.

But getting it on the front of February’s Bon Appetit took extra work.

It’s the product of a new print ad campaign that has the 2019 Silverado adorning mocked-up covers of special-interest publications that typically feature athletes, rock stars or rich desserts.

It’s also part of a strategy to goose growth of Silverado sales by appealing to nontraditional audiences in unconventional ways.

With the launch of the redesigned 2019 model beginning in the fall, Silverado’s U.S. sales were flat last year at just more than 585,000 units, while sibling GMC Sierra sales increased 0.7 percent.

That compares with a 1.4 percent gain for the segment-leading Ford F series and a 7.2 percent rise for the Ram pickup.

Brand loyalties run deep in the pickup market, so Chevy believes much of its future growth will come from new customers to the segment, and slightly younger ones, according to Sandor Piszar, Chevrolet truck marketing director.

So in addition to Motor Trend, ESPN and Sports Illustrated, Chevy bought out the covers of Bon Appetit, Rolling Stone, GQ, US Weekly, Southern Living and Texas Monthly.

The magazines’ regular covers appear just underneath. But unlike typical wraparound cover ads that appear often in newspapers, these Chevy ads are tailored to each magazine, with copy that plays off the title’s typical subject themes and tweaks to the nameplates, which many publishers once considered an inviolable brand asset.

The Bon Appetit ad, for example, features the headline “Grilling,” with a close-up of the Silverado’s grille.

“We pushed every boundary that we could,” said Paul Edwards, vice president of Chevrolet marketing, noting that some magazines Chevy approached with the idea wouldn’t go along. “This is the way that we have found print is innovating.”

None of the magazines had featured autos prominently on their covers or allowed a company to buy such an ad before, Edwards said.

“Yes, buying a spread in these titles would have been good and done a job,” he added, “but it wouldn’t have been as innovative as we need for this launch.

“You get greater scale by being on the cover,” he added.

Edwards said Chevrolet and ad agency Commonwealth//McCann started discussing the idea with the magazines in mid-2018.

Chevy worked with each publisher on the use of the nameplates and cover takeovers to make them “contextually relevant” and “resonate” with the publication’s readers.

Edwards said the publications were “very enthusiastic” and “really enjoyed the creative back and forth” regarding the covers.

The deal also includes a more traditional print ad for the Silverado on the inside cover of each publication.

Officials for the magazines didn’t respond to inquiries from Automotive News on the ads and working with Chevrolet.

Edwards said Chevy expects the publications to reach 90 million people, including their 14 million combined subscribers.

The magazine takeovers follow wraparound cover ads in Detroit-area newspapers and other nontraditional ads, such as unique dedications to Prince and Aretha Franklin, that were designed to generate publicity around the ads themselves. Edwards said GM refers to such advertising as “disruptions.”

Along with the print ads, Chevy last week began a TV campaign for the Silverado that Edwards calls an “evolution” of the brand’s roughly 4-year-old “Real People, Not Actors” theme. The first ad, called “A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock ‘n’ Roll,” features “real people” using the pickup while reciting lyrics of the Donny and Marie Osmond song. More traditional “Real People, Not Actors” ads, which have featured focus groups, will air later, he said.

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