• Dec 20, 2009
GM's new 2011 Chevrolet Volt is expected to launch in t... GM's new 2011 Chevrolet Volt is expected to launch in the end of 2010 (GM).

Since you, dear reader and American taxpayer, own around 60% of General Motors, do you think you should have a say over the day to day operations of the company?

I really hope you said no. To paint a sweeping generalization and identify America's representative via the gentleman sitting the next table over at dinner last night, I don't think I want to trust the product strategy for Chevrolet to the dad with the spray tan, Ed Hardy shirt and uncomfortable shoes.

That being said, GM's recent marketing for its 2011 Chevy Volt extended-range electric vehicle gives us pause. The company is taking a holistic view in introducing the vehicle for sale later this year, using the coming months to build a groundswell of support across multiple demographics and psychographics. This includes everything from a nationwide tour of the vehicle to marketing campaigns on Facebook, YouTube and everything else in between.

One particular piece of the strategy seems to have caught hold over the last few weeks as an example of something that GM might want to reconsider. It's the Chevy Volt song, called "Chevy Volt and me"



And, it's more than just a song. At the LA Auto Show a few weeks ago the company had dancers move to the tune every hour on the hour:

What's surprising -- and perhaps why Chevy finds folly in anyone over the age of 16 knocking the strategy -- is that this marketing isn't targeted at car buyers: it's designed for middle school students. Specifically, students who show an interest in math and science, according to Dave Davoritz, a spokesperson for the Chevy Volt.

"Children today will grow up with electric vehicles as a norm thanks to the Chevy Volt," said Darovitz. "Generation Zers, as they’re called, are growing up in a world where issues like climate change have more priority in the national consciousness than ever before, and they’re more eco-conscious as a result. It's only a natural that we would begin to educate these young people on the electrification of the automobile."

How successful has the song been? It's hard to tell, but it doesn't seem it's long for this world. GM's new head of sales and marketing, Susan Docherty, had not heard the song before it went out into the public. This week she had the opportunity to hear it for the first time and watch the video.

"We might have missed with this one," Docherty wrote in an email to the website TheGMSource.com. "We could have done better."

Strategies of this kind aren't entirely unique for product marketing, or even for vehicles. It seems, however, that GM is taking additional heat for this example due to poor timing (we're only a few months past the bailout) and perhaps a poor execution of an otherwise novel strategy.



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