Chevrolet rolls out Silverado ad blitz

Nora Naughton
The Detroit News

Chevrolet is launching a new ad campaign for its 2019 Silverado 1500, with the first of three television ads airing Monday during the College Football Playoff National Championship on ESPN.

The new 60-second spot, dubbed "A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock 'n' Roll," is a different take on the General Motors Co. brand's "Real People Not Actors" campaign.

The new 60-second spot, dubbed "A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock 'n' Roll," is a different take on the General Motors Co. brand's "Real People Not Actors" campaign. The "Little Bit Country" ad features real pickup drivers speaking the lyrics to Donny and Marie Osmond's 1970s hit of the same name.

The TV ads, the rest of which will roll out in the first half of the year, are only part of the all-out ad blitz for Chevrolet's profit-rich full-size pickup. Chevy is advertising more traditionally in newspapers, magazines and news websites on top of a few new approaches.

In a first for a carmaker, Chevrolet will emblazon Amazon delivery boxes with images of  Silverados that look like they are crashing through the box. Chevrolet already partners with Amazon on in-car package delivery.

In an automotive industry first, the Chevy Silverado will break through the traditional brown packaging on 7.1 million Amazon boxes.

Chevrolet is also using smartphone game "HQ Trivia" to advertise the Silverado with a giveaway during Tuesday night's live trivia game.

Chevrolet is including some Spanish-language ads to air nation-wide on Spanish-speaking networks as part of a Silverado campaign targeted at Hispanic buyers. 

Marketing executives for Chevrolet wouldn't share an exact cost on the new Silverado advertising campaign, put together with agency Commonwealth//McCann, but said the spend would be "significant" to reflect the importance of the truck to the brand.

In addition to the usual focus-group work on the new Silverado ads, Chevrolet refined its messages using neuroscience testing for the first time. In this newer process, would-be truck buyers are fitted with skull caps that measure brain waves and skin responses as they watch or read the new advertisements.

"Given the importance of this launch we wanted to make sure that we had absolutely every customer insight driving the best work," said Paul Edwards, U.S. vice president of Chevrolet marketing. "In many cases it validated what our approach was already and in a very, very genuine way because people can't lie, or say what they think you want them to say. It's just the body's response."

Edwards said the neuroscience testing measures a viewer's willingness to interact with the ad from the start, and then analyzes the "likeability" of the message. Those findings helped to refine some of the ads but didn't rule anything out.

The Chevrolet Silverado 1500, which finished 2018 with 25.1 percent of the light-duty pickup market, is one of General Motors Co.'s two full-size pickups. GMC also sells the Sierra, which accounts for 10.2 percent of the market. 

Both pricey trucks and their heavy-duty counterparts are crucial to the Detroit automaker's bottom line. Together, Silverado and Sierra accounted for about 805,000 of GM's 2.9 million vehicles sold in the U.S. last year. That put GM in second-place in the Detroit Three truck wars, with Ford Motor Co. selling 909,300 F-Series trucks and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles selling 536,980 Ram pickups.

Twitter: @NoraNaughton