Chevrolet: Brand Profile

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Chevrolet is the lead brand in the portfolio of global auto giant General Motors. Always a key component of the overall portfolio, it became the central brand in a restructured GM during 2009, contributing as much as 70% of total volumes by the year's end. Chevrolet holds a special place in American popular culture, arguably the best loved car marque in the country's history. As the company's 2003 marketing campaign proudly boasted "They don't write songs about Volvos". Instead GM managed to compile a list of around 200 songs which feature Chevys, most of them making some reference to the golden age of the 1950s, a period when the brand was at its peak, seeming to epitomize America's freewheeling spirit and the new rock 'n' roll era. Yet a slump in US sales in 2008 and 2009 prompted significant changes in Chevrolet's future profile. In the latter year, international sales of the Chevrolet brand overtook domestic for the first time in history, although the vast majority of those sales were of models designed and produced by GM's Korean subsidiary, then known as Daewoo. Chevrolet's US sales have recovered since then, but its global profile has also soared, especially in developing markets such as Brazil and China. Not in Europe, though. It was withdrawn from that region in 2013 to stop it undermining sales of GM's local brands Opel and Vauxhall.

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Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Jan 2015: Automobile market watcher Focus2move published its preliminary ranking of the top-selling car brands and manufacturers in 2014. According to those figures, compiled from aggregation of individual local markets, Volkswagen Group has unseated Toyota Group as the global #1, with a combined total of 9.92m vehicles sold, up 5% year on year. The main reason was an especially strong performance by the Skoda and Audi brands, up 10% and 9% respectively, compared to just 2.4% for the VW marque. Toyota Group achieved 9.82m vehicles, an increase of 2.3%. However the individual Toyota brand still leads the global industry with a record total of 8.30m vehicles sold, up a little over 1% on the year before. Some way behind sits Volkswagen at 6.55m vehicles, up 2.5%. US giants Ford and Chevrolet maintain their positions at #3 and #4, but Chevrolet suffered a near-5% decline to 4.79m, compared with Ford's 1% climb to 5.81m. Chevrolet's slump, the result of its withdrawal from Europe, puts it at risk from Hyundai in the #5 position, with 4.76m units. There were increases of more than 4% apiece for Nissan, Honda and Kia, but #9 Renault slumped by 1.5%. Peugeot displaced Fiat to take then #10 spot, while Mercedes-Benz overtook BMW to seize the #11 position. The biggest growth for any single brand was China's BAIC, sales of which doubled, albeit to a still-small 297k units. Next came Jeep, up 38% to 875k vehicles. Combined total for all car brands hit a new annual record of 86.5m units worldwide, up 2.8% year-on-year.

Adbrands Weekly Update 10th Jul 2014: Ads of the Week "Manchester United". It's two years since the announcement of General Motors' controversial deal to make Chevrolet official car and shirt sponsor of Manchester United. That deal led to the ousting of GM's marketing chief (for exceeding agreed budget limitations) and bizarrely remained in place despite GM's subsequent decision to pull the Chevrolet brand out of Europe. Here finally is the big reveal of the new shirt, in a neat spot from McCann's Commonwealth network. It might bring a tear to the eyes of older fans, as childhood memories are jogged by those classic round-neck kits of the 60s and 70s, and the charming cameo by Sir Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and Norman Whiteside. Then grimace at Wayne Rooney's intense concentration as he struggles to remember and deliver his closing lines. No born actor he.

Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Jan 2014: Auto manufacturers have begun to report their global totals. First to declare were linked Korean manufacturers Hyundai and Kia, who delivered a combined total of 7.56m vehicles, up around 6%. Chevrolet reported a rise of 3.5% to 4.98m units, led by solid growth in the US, China and Mexico. Daimler claimed a near-11% jump for its main Mercedes-Benz marque to over 1.46m passenger cars. Total passenger car deliveries including Smart (which slipped 3%) were 1.56m. Rival Audi came in higher though, with an overall 8% rise to almost 1.58m. That included big increases in China (+21.2%), the US (+13.5%) and the UK (+14.9%). However BMW remains top dog with branded sales of 1.66m, also up almost 8%. Second-string brand Mini delivered only a 1% increase to 305k to bring BMW Group sales up to 1.96m, a 6.4% overall rise. Volvo's increase was rather more modest at 1.4% to almost 428k units, with the US and China each accounting for 61k cars. China was also a key market for Jaguar Land Rover, which enjoyed a 19% jump in global sales to just over 425k cars. Jaguar sales alone soared by over 42% to almost 77m units.

Adbrands Weekly Update 9th Jan 2014: Paul Edwards was named as the new VP, US marketing for Chevrolet, replacing Chris Perry, who resigned last month. Edwards was previously executive director, marketing strategy & support. Separately, Chevrolet transferred Hispanic marketing into McCann-affiliated Casanova Pendrill (from Latinworks).

Adbrands Weekly Update 19th Dec 2013: Chevrolet's VP, US marketing Chris Perry has resigned. His successor has not yet been named. Formerly head of Chevvy's global marketing, Perry's duties were cut back to the US market earlier this year following the appointment of former VW exec Tim Mahoney to the worldwide role. However, the impending shutdown of Chevrolet in Europe will significantly reduce the car marque's global marketing requirements.


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Background

Free for all users | see full profile for current activities: The man after whom Chevrolet is named was only associated with the marque for two or three years. Swiss-born Louis Chevrolet arrived in the US (by way of France and Canada) in the early years of the 20th century. A mechanic by trade he was suddenly thrown into the public eye when he broke the US land speed record in a 1905 road race, and he proceeded to win a series of other races over the next five years, becoming something of a celebrity. In 1911, William Durant, an often reckless entrepreneur who had been ousted as chairman of General Motors a year earlier, commissioned Chevrolet to build a car of his own. Durant's plan was to capitalise on Chevrolet's fame to sell the new vehicle to the public. According to one legend, the famous Chevrolet bow-tie logo was a windswept version of the cross in the centre of Louis Chevrolet's Swiss flag. Another story has it that Durant copied the design from the wallpaper in his Paris hotel room.

Ironically, Chevrolet's design, launched as the Classic Six, proved bigger and more expensive than Durant had wanted. The two men dissolved their partnership in 1913, but Durant kept rights to the name, launching a smaller, cheaper Baby Grand in 1914 and the hugely successful Four Ninety (named after its selling price of $490) a year later. With the cash generated from this triumph, Durant was able to seize back control of General Motors in 1915, and merged the two companies in 1918. Over the next few years the rivalry between the Ford and Chevrolet brands intensified. Chevrolet overtook Ford for the first time in sales in 1927, and although pole position swapped back and forth over the next few years, the challenger brand took a firm grasp on the prize in 1936 and held on to the title of the country's best-selling car for the next 50 years. That reign ended in 1986 when a series of labour disputes caused Chevrolet to stumble, relinquishing leadership of the US market to the Ford marque.

Meanwhile, GM gradually began to extend the brand into international markets. GM had been manufacturing cars in Latin America since the 1930s, but introduced the Chevrolet brand there for the first time in the late 1960s with the Opala model, followed by the Chevette. In the 1980s, the Latin American business was linked with Opel in Europe, and launched the latter's Corsa, as well as other European-designed models. In 2001 the group agreed a joint venture with Russian company Avtovaz, the manufacturer of Lada cars, to make Chevrolets locally in Russia. The first model, the Niva 4x4, was introduced in 2003. Following the takeover of Daewoo, the group also began importing selected smaller Daewoo models into Eastern and Central Europe under the Chevrolet name, and then announced a full rebranding of Daewoo in Western Europe as well from 2005.

Meanwhile, in 2004, Chevrolet enjoyed its best year in North America since the late 1980s. This reflected the launch of "An American Revolution", the promotion which launched on News Year's Eve 2003, and ran until midway through 2005. By the end of that period the brand had launched no less than 10 new cars and trucks, including a completely updated passenger car line-up with a stronger emphasis on smaller cars, a new midsize pickup, three innovative utility and crossover vehicles and two new "halo" vehicles, designed to grab consumer attention and encourage interest in the general range.

January 2004 saw the launch of the new Colorado truck, the entry level Aveo (based on Daewoo's Kalos, and imported from Korea) and the eye-catching Chevy SSR, the world's first convertible sports pickup truck. These were followed by the Equinox compact utility vehicle, Uplander crossover sport van and the new convertible Corvette, the world's first volume production sportscar when it was introduced in 1957, and now in its 6th generation. A new premium small car, Cobalt, arrived at the end of the year, designed ultimately to replace the existing Cavalier model. New launches for 2005 included the new Impala and the HHR, a crossover car/truck. The Malibu midsize sedan was successfully redesigned in 2007, earning the title as North American passenger car of the year for 2008.

Yet despite 2004's record performance and strong new model launches, US sales slumped again in the wake of brutal competition on pricing as well as a consumer shift away from high gas-consumption vehicles. After a 10% fall in 2006, US unit sales for 2007 fell by a further 6% to 2,265,641 vehicles, with passenger cars down 5% to under 757,000 units, and truck sales almost 7% lower at just over 1.5m units. However Ford's sales falls were steeper, with the result that Chevrolet reclaimed its lead over its long time rival. Both companies were however overtaken by Toyota, which became America's best-selling automobile brand of 2007 for the first time, with sales of just under 2.3m vehicles. See full profile for current activities


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