Chevy Revamps 'Blue Arch' Dealer Spots

Despite Marketing Changes Elsewhere, 'Office'-Type Ads Will Continue

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Chevrolet is revamping a national advertising campaign that prominently features its dealerships and jokey salespeople in vignettes patterned after "The Office" TV show, the brand's top marketing executives told Ad Age sibling Automotive News.

Chevy began the national campaign, dubbed "Under the Blue Arch," early last year with TV commercials that have been used heavily by Chevy's regional dealer marketing groups. Chevy has run dozens of spots featuring an ensemble cast of fictional characters as a platform for ads plugging everything from Silverados to Cruzes.

The spots are intended to showcase Chevy dealerships as inviting, lighthearted places. But the commercials have been polarizing among dealers. Some think the spots are funny while others believe they make salespeople look silly or unprofessional.

Chevy marketing chief Chris Perry says the campaign is working and will continue but will be tweaked to reflect the new tag line Chevy introduced this month: "Find New Roads."

"We've built up some great equity with 'Under the Blue Arch' that we don't want to lose," Perry said on the sidelines of the Detroit auto show. "We've established a look and feel of the dealership that is seen by the consumer as inviting and less scary."

Mr. Perry said "2.0" versions of the campaign likely will begin running in the spring or summer.

Some dealers wondered whether GM would kill the campaign now that it has chosen a new tag line to replace "Chevy Runs Deep," which was introduced in 2010. The commercials were conceived with Goodby Silverstein & Partners under Joel Ewanick, who was let go as GM marketing chief last summer -- another factor leading dealers to speculate that GM might drop the campaign. Commonwealth, a joint-venture of Omnicom and Interpublic, now handles Chevy work.

Steve Hurley, dealer principal at Stingray Chevrolet in Plant City, Fla., and co-chairman of the Chevrolet National Dealer Council, acknowledges that many dealers are "looking for more" from the campaign. He says the most recent commercials are better than the earlier ones because they have focused more on the vehicles and less on the characters.

Alan Batey, General Motors' U.S. sales chief and interim global chief marketing officer, said the campaign was meant to differentiate Chevy's regional creative ads from the generic regional ads run by rivals. He said it has achieved that goal and two others: To showcase the new look that most Chevy dealerships are adopting and to provide a consistent platform that dealer marketing groups can use to advertise various sales events.

Mr. Batey said: "It gets your awareness levels up so much faster than changing your campaign every time you do a 60-day event."

Citing Nielsen Co. data, he said consumers have rated the commercials highly.

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