Ideas are easy. Execution is hard. Every Friday I will share an idea that's been rolling around in my head that I have neither the time nor the where-with-all to execute. Remember, it's free, so take it for what it's worth.
Is GM Ready To Cruze?
In Q3 of 2010, General Motors will launch it’s latest Corolla/Civic fighter, the Chevy Cruze. The first major new product to debut since GM’s bankruptcy and restructuring, it’s not an overstatement to say that this is a make or break product for the “New” GM. In order to make sure the launch is successful, GM has broken with its past and thrown a creative jump ball to advertising agencies across the country to see who will have the honor of introducing the Cruze to the public. Good luck with that.
This isn’t 1970 when people had a positive impression of Chevrolet, and you could roll out a new car knowing they would at least give it a look. Today Chevrolet ranks well behind Toyota and Honda in brand perception. Changing perceptions takes time, unless you’re willing to do something radical. And having a different agency create your ad campaign isn’t radical.
It’s time for an intervention.
What GM must do is demonstrate that the Cruze is as good or better than the Corolla and Civic to the very people most likely to buy those other brands. So here’s my idea.
Take 1% of the first year’s projected production, that’s 2,500 cars, and put them in the hands of Toyota and Honda owners for free.
There are only two stipulations. The first is that they have to write a weekly blog about their experience with the car. No editing, no censoring, just their unvarnished truth. The second is that they have to give up their Corolla or Civic. After 90 days, the owners have the option of keeping the Cruze or getting their old car back.
The upside? They have the potential to convert 2,500 competitive owners into Chevy evangelists. The national publicity from giving away 2,500 cars will be huge. (Remember the firestorm of publicity Pontiac received from giving away 276 cars on Oprah.) And when a greater percentage of people decide to keep the Cruze rather than return it, there's another big PR opportunity.
The key is to have a complete program in place to build on the buzz created by the initial announcement. In order to do that, Chevrolet should set up a specific blog site that’s easy to find, something like “CruzeForFree.com/drivername”, give each participant a Flip video camera so they can easily create and upload videos of their experiences, allowing them to tell their stories and show others the Cruze has the features they need, is fun to drive, efficient, of high quality, and that the ownership experience is every bit as good as you would expect from Honda and Toyota.
The downside? The Cruze doesn’t live up to its promise and GM dies a quicker death than it would have otherwise.
If GM truly believes in this new nameplate, then it's a bet worth making.