Profile: Jeremy Gilley

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Chevrolet’s CMO plots route to global dominance

Chevrolet is aligning its engineering, design and retail operations behind a single brand vision and communications platform Find New Roads. Marketing Week asked the automaker’s CMO Alan Batey about the challenges that lie ahead for the business as it looks to better resonate with consumers outside the United States.

Chevrolet-Corvette-2013

Chevrolet’s top marketer explains how the business will integrate its football sponsorships into its Find New Roads global marketing strategy.

Marketing Week (MW): What makes you confident that ‘Find New Roads’ resonates more meaningfully and works on a global scale than previous efforts?

Alan Batey (AB): We see Find New Roads as a long term platform for us to engage consumers on. We don’t intend to use this for two or three years and then move on to something else, we hope to use it for at least a decade. It is a simple message we’re trying to share with consumers, but it is also very flexible and can mean different things to different users; you can think of two different vehicles like a electrical car and a heavy duty car and Find New Roads could apply to both. We’ve done a lot of testing and we know customers associate the tag line with innovation and something that is going to be different.

MW: What does the new strapline mean and how are you rallying behind it as a business?

AB: Everyone is focusing externally on what the new tag line means, but for us it was important to focus on what a new brand vision would mean for us internally. We wanted it to be an internal cheer that the whole company could rally behind. Find New Roads is a rallying call for our employees everyday to really channel ourselves to be innovative and drive us on to become a market leader outside of America. We want that ethos to translate into our products and when that happens the marketing becomes easy to execute and there is no confusion from market to market.

MW: When can we expect to see the first activations using the new strap line?

AB: We’ll debut the first activations between February and March in the US and then launch others throughout the year to support the 13 new product launches we’ve got planned. Depending on the activity in each country you’ll start to see activations globally too. We’ll also integrate our sponsorships of Manchester United and Liverpool FC into our advertising.

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MW:Speaking of your sponsorship deals, how are you planning to convert football supporters into Chevrolet fans?

AB: This is just the beginning for us. At the moment we’re the automotive sponsors of both United and Liverpool, and we don’t become shirt sponsor for United until next year. We want our activations around football to be interactive so we can get passionate supporters interacting with the Chevrolet brand and be seen as more approachable than other partners. From a social media perspective, we’re bringing meaningful media to these fans and giving them behind-the-scenes access to both teams. I believe that by sharing this content and through all the work we do around stadiums we’ll be able to build an engaged fan base over time.

MW: The brand’s experienced some criticisms from United and Liverpool fans to the online video featuring players from both teams. What’s your reaction to the negative feedback and what learnings can you take from the campaign?

AB: You’re always going to get the die-hards, but that’s what makes the teams special and their fan base very powerful. The strategy has been developed to build reach in emerging markets where we can use the United brand to help take our brand to new consumers. The strategy for the video was developed with this in mind. The position we want to take across soccer is to really understand it and be right there alongside the supporters.

MW: You’re not going to be advertising during the Super Bowl this year. With the sponsorships in place do you think that was still the right decision?

AB: Yes I really do. The United and Liverpool game is expected to be watched somewhere between 500 and 600 million people. It gives you so much reach. The Super Bowl has been good for us in the past and when you use it properly it can be a great platform fro generating awareness.

MW: Chevrolet has previously talked about using online channels to reach younger consumers. How has this strategy has grown since then and the key learnings you took away from it?

AB: We’ve become a more socially driven business since then. Last year we launched the Aveo without any TV advertising and just did it through digital social. The launch was hugely successful and its something we’re going to try and do more of. If you want to reach younger people on TV now then its really difficult because they’re not watching it. It’s been a challenging shift for us because we’re comfortable in the TV space and have been working with MTV to help us understand [younger consumers].

As marketers we need to ensure that our brands stay relevant and so we’re looking to social media to help build that relevancy in places where frankly our awareness is still very much in the early stages of development.

MW: Everything the brand has done globally has been more localised up until now. What are the challenges in leading such a culture shift in branding?

AB: We have grown very fast over the last decade but we’ve basically done it on a country by country basis. Now we have a critical scale that allows us then to really connect our branding around the world together. We needed a global platform to ensure that people understand what we stand for universally but we still need to make ourselves locally relevant and this is where working with our local operations will play a key role. The thing with Chevrolet is that while it is sold in 140 countries but in some markets it is very undeveloped and in other countries like the US it is almost top of mind. We’re going to be leveraging all the insight we have access to so that the campaign resonates with people locally and can develop nuances that make it stand out from market to market.

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