GM deep-sixes 'Chevy Runs Deep'

"Now it sleeps with the fishes." – Mickey Kaus

Folklore has it that dinosaurs were so big, clumsy and stupid that when you kicked one in the tail, it took forever for its head to feel the pain.

That may explain why it took GM over two years – from 2010 until yesterday – to realize that its incomprehensible “Chevy Runs Deep” advertising slogan was making no sense whatever to consumers.

It seemed like a good idea at the time

Under the management of since-ousted CMO Joel Ewanick, GM introduced the line with great fanfare in 2010 World Series commercial breaks.

“[I]t was a campaign that was developed and implemented around the time of our centennial,” interim CMO Alan Batey told Advertising Age. “When you have a centennial you have an opportunity to look back on your history. … [Chevy] has a rich history and I think the campaign — and all the results track this out — did well at that point in time.”

That’s true if doing well means attracting derision and losing sales.

“GM was immediately met with wide criticism from car buffs who claimed that ‘Chevy Runs Deep’ lacked substance, with Jalopnik going so far as to call it as the ‘worst slogan ever,'” Ad Age notes. “Despite continued criticism and a global review, GM said in October of 2011 that it was sticking by its choice.”

The year after that, after losing market share and unceremoniously firing Ewanick, GM slowly started thinking about replacing it. “We might transition,” Chevrolet VP-marketing Chris Perry told Automotive News, saying that the beleaguered division had been forming internal and ad-agency teams to evaluate replacements.

Other agendas?

“Remember, GM suckers, they’re ditching the slogan because that big drop in 2012 market share to 17.9% (from 19.6%) is nothing to worry about,” blogger Mickey Kaus posts at, but it may very well be that other factors are at work here.

One such factor is top management’s ongoing crusade to root out and eliminate every last vestige of the Ewanick legacy.

Another is a shift away from the domestic market, where their sales are in something of a tailspin.

As Ad Age puts it diplomatically,

Since its founding in 1911 in Motor City, Chevrolet has gone from being as American as apple pie to a global brand that’s selling some 4 million cars and trucks in more than 140 markets. That evolution means the patriotic messaging used to sell the brand to consumers in the past — slogans such as “See the USA in Your Chevrolet,” “Heartbeat of America,” “An American Revolution,” and, its most recent rally cry, “Chevy Runs Deep” — won’t resonate with a huge segment of the market anymore.

(Of course, GM has adapted its patriotic US campaigns to other countries, such as Australia, where they once advertised “Meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars.”)

Certainly Chevy neither has “a rich history” nor runs deep in countries like the UK, where their models are sold as Vauxhalls; Australia, where they’re badged as Holdens; the European continent, where they’re Opels; and developing countries where, until very recently, they haven’t been sold at all.

A detour from failure?

The new Chevrolet slogan – “Find New Roads” – is designed to make sales inroads where Chevrolet is a relatively new brand.

“From day one, we’ve been looking at this from a global perspective,” said Batey. “We know it creates a lot of meaning and is also very flexible. You can think of two vehicles, in very different spaces, perhaps a Volt and a heavy duty truck [and it applies to both]. We also think it translates into the services we provide our customers; it gives us an opportunity to surprise and delight our customers.”

Maybe, but it sounds just about as opaque as the failed tagline it’s replacing.

Maybe it’ll gain in the translation, but The Truth About Cars doesn’t think so. “[I]t’s unclear,” they note, “how ‘Find New Roads’ will resonate with consumers in Uzbekistan, where Chevrolet enjoys a 94 percent market share, but finding any sort of road is a challenge.”

If that’s the case, then maybe Chevrolet is trying to find new roads by using Apple Maps.

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