After what Mr. Weidman, marketing manager for the midsize sedan, calls Chevy's most extensive research ever on the target, a three-phase launch broke in fall 2007 and continued through the Olympics. The $100 million-plus integrated campaign included big plays on TV and online by Campbell-Ewald.
Malibu has made big strides since the debut. One print ad headlined "Camry beware," inspired by a quote from Car and Driver about Malibu, turned out to be prophetic. Six months after the launch, more than 40% of trade-ins for Malibu were non-GM vehicles, and the Toyota Camry remains the No. 1 trade-in.
Chevrolet sold 140,555 Malibus this year through September, up 36.5% from a year ago. Malibu's average transaction price is more than $4,000 higher than the old model's.
"We are so pleased with the results that have drawn us much closer to [Nissan] Altima and significantly closed the gap with the Camry and [Honda] Accord," Mr. Weidman says.