Corvette says there is a substitute for Porsche. And it's the all-new 2014 Corvette Stingray hitting showrooms this fall.
General Motors' Chevrolet and ad agency Commonwealth, Detroit, are plotting an ambitious marketing strategy for one of the automaker's biggest launches of the year.
Chevrolet will market the seventh-generation vehicle toward loyal Corvette owners, but also wants to "conquest" U.S. consumers who prefer European two-seaters from Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. It's taking special aim at its biggest rival in the premium-sports-car segment: Porsche, whose North America creative business, which has been handled by Cramer-Krasselt, is in review.
"Our No. 1 [target] will be Porsche," said John Fitzpatrick, Corvette's marketing manager. "We think we have a car that's comparable."
Porsche declined to comment on the Corvette marketing plan.
Corvette and Porsche, which have each had an impact on pop culture far beyond their actual sales, celebrate their 60th anniversaries this year.
Chevy and Commonwealth don't want to drive consumers to showrooms until the new Stingray arrives this fall. So they're in the middle of a three-part, yearlong strategy to launch the first Corvette deemed hot enough to bear the Stingray name since 1976.
Last fall the automaker built interest in Stingray by posting four videos on YouTube and placing a camouflaged version of the sports car in the "Gran Turismo 5" video game, said Todd Christensen, Corvette ad manager.
During phase two, it unveiled the car at the Detroit Auto Show on Jan. 13. Nearly 167,000 viewers tuned in for a live stream. In February, Chevy handed the keys to a torch-red Stingray to Super Bowl XLVII MVP Joe Flacco in New Orleans. (Plans to give the Stingray a co-starring role in Beyoncé Knowles' halftime show didn't work out.)
During phase three this fall, Stingray ads will appear in high-profile entertainment/sports programs and theaters.
The new Stingray will start at $52,000 and could go up to $80,000 for the fully loaded convertible. The Porsche Boxster, meanwhile, will range from $50,000 to $100,000, while the 911 will range from $84,000 to $172,000.
The average Corvette owner is 55 years vs. 48 for Porsche.
David Kiley, editor-in-chief of AOL Autos, thinks the Stingray could become a "halo" car that attracts more 20-somethings and women to the rest of Chevy's car and truck lineup "with aspirational and engaging stories about the new "Vette and Chevy brand ... [and] creative linkage to Chevy Cruze, Sonic and Equinox," Mr. Kiley said. (The Stingray won't get its own tagline but will be part of the "Find New Roads" campaign.)
And no, Chevrolet is not in talks with Beyoncé to star in Stingray ads. But, said Mr. Fitzpatrick, "we're ready for her order whenever she wants it."