SILVERADO MEDIA BLITZ IS CHEVY'S LARGEST LAUNCH: AUTOMAKER OUT TO STEAL SHARE FROM RIVAL FORD F-SERIES TRUCK

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General Motors Corp.'s Chevrolet division kicked off the biggest launch in its history during prime-time TV Oct. 8, with the more than $100 million marketing blitz for its redesigned Silverado full-size pickup (AA, Sept. 28).

The multimedia push includes print ads in 63 books, more titles than the brand has ever used before, said Mac Whisner, national manager of truck advertising at Chevy.

The buy also covers more than 250 outdoor boards in 41 key markets; more than 225 interstate highway boards; radio in 38 markets; pitches by radio commentator Paul Harvey; spot TV in 38 markets; and Internet advertising.

Mr. Whisner said the division has asked its dealer groups to use their local ad dollars for three Silverado regional ads created by national agency Campbell-Ewald, Warren, Mich.

`THE TRUCK'

For the national blitz, Campbell-Ewald created two :60s mirroring creative in earlier teaser commercials that announced the arrival of "The Truck." Bill Ludwig, vice chairman-chief creative officer of the agency, said Digital Domain, Venice, Calif., and Steve Horn Productions, New York, handled special effects that allow characters in the spots to interact within "frozen" settings.

The brand did its homework for this crucial launch, starting pre-launch activities in January. The truck's debut is critical because the pickup is General Motors' best-selling vehicle, accounting for 13% of all GM's North American sales, Mr. Whisner said.

EARLY TIMETABLE

The timetable was the earliest for a Chevrolet pre-launch, said Brand Manager Kurt Ritter.

Chevy added a fourth pickup plant last year, and Mr. Ritter is confident the added capacity will push Silverado's calendar 1999 production to 600,000 units -- the first time the truck would have reached that level in the past 10 years.

"In the last few years, every time we got some additional unit [production] levels, we picked up market share from Ford," he said.

Ford Motor Co.'s F-Series pickup has been America's best-selling model, car or truck, for more than 14 years. And it's on track to repeat in 1998, having sold 555,878 units from January through August, according to Automotive News. GM sold 374,179 of its Chevy full-size pickups in the same period, despite suffering 54-day strikes. Chevy's sales topped last year's 360,589 units for the same period.

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