• Apr 26, 2010

"The Heartbeat of America", "Like A Rock" and "An American Revolution" are but three of the memorable Chevrolet ad campaigns created by ad firm Campbell-Ewald over the past 91 years. Those tag lines have been ingrained into our minds over the past several decades, but a memorable history of selling the Bowtie to America wasn't enough to salvage the business relationship between General Motors and the company's long-standing ad firm.

The General has announced it will drop Campbell-Ewald in favor of Publicis Worldwide, which currently handles accounts for Coca-Cola and Whirlpool. Chevrolet Vice President of Marketing Jim Campbell summed up the transition to a new ad firm saying "Over the coming months, we will transition the business to Publicis Worldwide, which has recently been handling our car and crossover brands."

While GM has removed Campbell as its advertising firm of record, the company tells the Detroit News that the firm will still handle some of its campaigns, at least for the short term. While Campbell-Ewald is likely reeling from this setback, the company has a diverse enough portfolio of clients to survive the loss of its biggest client – about 25 percent of Campbell's ad business. GM's move to part with one of its main ad firms comes only a few months after cross-town automaker Chrysler severed ties with ad firm BBDO.

[Source: Detroit News]


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  • 22 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I remember a few years ago GM was making a Super Bowl ad for the Chevrolet. They let students create the concepts for the ad. When I saw the video, I saw a lot of great concepts (my favorite was the one where the lifestyles of the car owners popped up next to the cars). The only concept that I thought was bad is the one where old men strip of their clothes to wash their car.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I've got a friend over there, so I'm hoping he doesn't get sacked. This was most likely a cost cutting move. They probably wouldn't cut their prices as much as GM wanted them to. I think their ads over the years have been quite appropriate for the product and the market they were trying to reach.

      I look at ad agencies like head coaches for sports teams. They're the figurehead, but most likely get their direction from higher up. The also get the boot first when things aren't going so well.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Steve, I know what you're saying, but the truth is that people don't buy into the whole "It's American!" thing. Americans have widely come to believe that Americans do not make superior products (unfortunately), so beating the "USA" drum isn't good enough. MANY of GM ads have basically said "Buy it because it's American" and little of anything else.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Exactly what Kumar said. As an advertising copywriter, I can tell you this is how the biz works. The agency is at the mercy (or wisdom) of whomever is in charge of marketing at the client.

        "The Heartbeat of America" was a great and hugely popular campaign for its time (the '80s). I haven't seen it used since then. I don't know what that poster is complaining about.

        No offense, but some of you are talking out of your asses. Campbell typically did an outstanding job on Chevy ads and in the business environment they had to work in. Think of the Herculean task of creating campaigns with actual legs that have appeal across age, race and class lines, then think of doing it for a committee of 20-40 executives (each with their own foibles and political concerns/fiefdoms) — any one of which could put the kybosh on your hard, on-target, breakthrough work based only on a whim.

        "Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet" anyone? Those of us old enough to remember can certainly appreciate that and much of the other outstanding work Campbell Ewald created for Chevy. Making your brand one of the tops in the world over a period of nearly 100 years is a helluva track record!

        My hat is off to you, Campbell marketing professionals. Thanks for all the great work over the last CENTURY. Wow.
      • 4 Years Ago
      They probably got so fed up with a Pete Campbell type character that is so annoying that certain people can't even watch that show anymore.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Might be cost cutting.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Chicago-based my ass! Its a damn French-owned company!

      I know..... I used to work for the bastards!
      • 4 Years Ago
      About damned time. Most of GM's ads have been horrible as far back as I can remember. They haven't been funny, sexy, or confident....or memorable. If they really want to shake things up, the pitch has to change too.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Dude, Hummer had some of the only good ads. I've often wondered if they had a separate advertising partner specifically for Hummer.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Chevy was the heartbeat, taxpayers were the defibrillator.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Uhmm then you haven't been paying attention. GM has had some great ads over the years. But let's be honest, most of the cars they were trying to sell were very boring. Not much sexy or fun about a 2005 Malibu.

        Here is proof that GM created some great ads.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=em0P57sYErE
        • 4 Years Ago
        CE was the...single...WORST ad agency I've ever done business with. Totally inept at basic marketing, zero brand management chops and totally lacking any creativity to speak of. It's amazing that it took this long but GM is finally showing some smarts and balls to fire 'em. Good move, I say.

        By the way, yes, the Hummer ads were done by a totally different agency in Boston. Same with Cadillac.
        • 4 Years Ago
        About time! GM has been putting crap commericals out for a long time. The Howie long commericals were ok, but I've never seen a commerical that I could say "Ok that was good, or funny". Most have been generic junk commericals for the sake of having one. Not actually trying to connect with people on different levels of any kind. To the defence of CE it could also have been GM holding back on the good commericals for the sake of being politically correct, and I can see that happening too.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Does anyone thing that GM/Chevrolet went bankrupt because of bad advertising?

      Campbell-Ewald is the latest casualty in the aftermath of GM’s bankruptcy. I just hope they cut deep enough into the people at Chevy Marketing who approved the Chevy Volt dancers and trying to make Howie Long sell cars (trucks, OK, but car owners don’t know who he is). Clients get the advertising they deserve.

      Are Honda and Toyota ads the reason for their increasing sales over the past 20 years?
      Ads for the Insight were creative, but it never sold because the car is lame.
      VW ads featuring Max may have been funny (to some), but they canned the agency responsible so apparently they didn’t work either.
        • 4 Years Ago
        No one is saying that marketing is THE reason for GM's failing. In the car industry, product is king, but marketing that product and getting consumers to have a connection to your product is still very important.

        VW has been using quirky ads for ages now that reminded customers about their European roots, and even when their stuff was rather bad in terms of quality, people still bought them for their "German Engineering".
        • 4 Years Ago
        You can't pin the bankruptcy/demise on a single thing, but advertising was a part of a system that obviously didn't work for GM. Upper management changes, product changes, advertising all will play into how successful the "new" GM can be.

        Advertising is one of those things that a lot of people dont think about, but there is a huge amount of capital and time spent on it. Honda & Toyota both run very successful ad campaigns that reach their target demographics and convey the message they want to: reliability, safety, good value.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Does anyone thing that GM/Chevrolet went bankrupt because of bad advertising?
      Are Honda and Toyota ads the reason for their increasing sales over the past 20 years?
      Ads for the Insight were creative, but it never sold because the car is lame.
      VW ads featuring Max may have been funny, but they canned the agency responsible so apparently they didn’t work either.

      Campbell-Ewald is the latest casualty in the aftermath of GM’s bankruptcy. I just hope they cut deep enough into the people at Chevy Marketing who approved the Chevy Volt dancers and trying to make Howie Long sell cars (trucks, OK, but car owners don’t know who he is). Clients get the advertising they deserve.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is what GM needs FINALLY, an upper management that WILL shake things up and try new and different things, not the same ole stagnant thing they have been doing for 100 years.

      good for them, another step in the right direction.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Couldn't agree more.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Good. They need something fresh.

      I shouldn't see ads today that make me feel like I saw them back in '85.

      Plus, let's be honest...that 'heartbeat of America' slogan feels pretty stupid these days. Looks even stupider when it's monogrammed onto cars (ever see a Corvette or Cavalier with it, it looks terrible).
      • 4 Years Ago
      One of the best commercials they did in recent years is the Super Bowl Corvette commercial that they didn't air because some group of people were scared kids would try to drive cars after watching it.

      To be honest, it was probably the best car commercial in recent years. I'd give the Audi R8 Super Bowl commercial a very close second.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It is absolutely nothing more than a money saving measure. GM has now consolidated MOST of their advertising duties and media buying under one company, Publicis.

      Campbell-Ewald is the most diversified ad agency in Detroit. BBDO had NO other clients other than Chrysler...

      C-E has the US Navy, USPS, Remington arms, Kaiser-Permanente, Ghirardelli Chocolate, Carhart, Alltel wireless, and U-M. There are others, but I can't think of them...
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