Commonwealth Lands Another Piece of Chevy Truck Business

Midsize Truck Meant to Compete With Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier

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Chevy Colorado
Chevy Colorado

At this week's Los Angeles Auto Show, General Motors' Chevrolet unveiled its all-new Colorado pickup truck, a midsize offering designed to steal customers from the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier.

But the more important question back on Madison Avenue was which agency would land the assignment for the account.

Would it be McCann's Commonwealth, Detroit, agency of record for Chevy around the world? Or Publicis' Leo Burnett, Chicago, which cherry-picked the $290 million Silverado account away from Commonwealth last December?

GM's shift of the trophy Silverado account to Commonwealth received good news this week from its client -- though not the Silverado news it might have been hoping for.

"Silverado remains with Leo Burnett and Colorado will be handled by Commonwealth, our agency of record," said GM spokeswoman Cristi Vazquez in a statement. "As we said earlier this year, Leo was asked to handle Silverado to help balance the work for Chevrolet with 13 launches for 2013."

She declined to comment on planned ad spending behind Colorado, which hits Chevy showrooms next fall.

The notion that Leo Burnett could poach Commonwealth's creative business, and vice versa, is not far-fetched.

Yes, Leo Burnett has Silverado. But it was Commonwealth that wrote the music and created a 3.5-minute long spot starring Nashville artist Will Hoge called "Strong" that Chevy aired during the MLB All-Star Game's Home Run Derby contest this summer.

McCann referred calls to the client. Leo Burnett could not be reached.

During a sit-down with Advertising Age, Chevy's Global CMO Tim Mahoney said it was unlikely the agencies would get a shot at each other's business. But he didn't rule it out.

"I don't think the idea is that they're going to be blended back and forth. But it is nice to have two strong partners," said Mr. Mahoney.

Chevy is aiming the sporty-looking Colorado at younger consumers who like the Tacoma or Frontier or even smaller Crossover SUV's.

Ken Parkinson, executive director of Chevrolet design, told Advertising Age's sibling magazine Automotive News the Colorado boasts a "more youthful, more athletic look" than the full-size Silverado.

Said Mr. Parkinson: "It has that capable look, like there's no question that it can make it to wherever these active-lifestyle customers want to go. It looks great next to the new Silverado, yet it's very different."

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