Monday, November 06, 2006

Chevy speaks to Latino buyers

Thursday, October 26, 2006
GM, which says it leads the Hispanic truck market, filled its Spanish-language Chevy Silverado ad with vital contributions Hispanics have made to the world.
Chevy speaks to Latino buyers
GM brand breaks ground with World Series TV ad in Spanish
David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- Llevame al partido de beisbol.

If you don't know that's Spanish for "take me out to the ballgame," you probably had trouble understanding one TV commercial during Game 3 of the World Series.

General Motors Corp. reached out to the growing Hispanic market with a 60-second Spanish-only TV advertisement during Game 3.

GM is one of the first major companies to run a Spanish-only ad on prime time network television aired across the United States.

Called "Milestones," the ad features some of the contributions Hispanics have made over the last century. The ad includes images of the inventor of color TV, Guillermo G. Camarena; welterweight boxing champion Roberto Duran; and Adolfo Luque, an early Cuban-born Major League Baseball pitcher who played for the Rojos de Cincinnati, as the subtitle said, or the Cincinnati Reds.

The ad also features Hispanic workers building the Hoover Dam and an engineer at a construction site looking "heroic" -- according to the ad copy -- reviewing blueprints next to his brand new Silverado. The ad ends with a father and son as Maná's song, "Justicia, Tierra y Libertad" -- a battle cry made famous by Pancho Villa and Emilio Zapata -- plays.

"Through time we have marked the nation," the narrator says in Spanish. "Today, our mark continues stronger than ever. The new Chevy Silverado 2007. Join us."

But GM is only dipping its toe by running the Spanish-only ad on mass-market TV -- it only planned to run the ad once. It will run regularly on Spanish-language TV, and English ads targeted at Hispanics will also run on mass-market TV.

GM heavily courts the 45 million Hispanic market in the United States as do the other major automakers. Hispanics buy 9 percent of all new trucks; 53 percent of Hispanic vehicle sales are trucks, according to data from R.L. Polk.

Chevy says it is the leader in the Hispanic truck market, outselling Ford and Toyota. Chevy has a 17 percent market share.

Michael Bernacchi, a marketing professor at University of Detroit Mercy, said GM's move is smart.

"The Hispanic market is not only the fastest-growing market, it's also the youngest," Bernacchi said. "It's a great way to build brand loyalty."

He also noted the high number of Hispanic players and fans in baseball. Other than the World Cup, which has a larger Hispanic following, the World Series is an ideal venue.

Bernacchi said when the next World Cup is played in 2010 more companies will run Spanish-only advertisements.

The pickup truck market is critical to the success of General Motors and Ford Motor Co., which have both seen sales drops this year. Toyota intends to stiffen the competition with the launch of its full-size Tundra and is opening a plant in San Antonio, Texas, for its Tundra.

Texas, home to a large Hispanic population, buys one out of every four pickup trucks sold in the United States.

Since GM first ran its Spanish ad in 2004, other automakers have taken notice.

Toyota ran an ad during the 2006 Super Bowl for the Toyota Camry featuring a father and son switching between Spanish and English -- though it was fairly simple Spanish that didn't require subtitles.

Target ran a song with Spanish lyrics in an ad in 2004.

GM is eager to tie the Silverado to the "passion" of Hispanics.

"Chevy is proud to acknowledge how Hispanics have enriched our lives in the U.S., and we are pleased to be the brand of choice in trucks among Hispanics," said Kim Kosak, director of advertising for Chevrolet in a statement. "The 2007 Chevy Silverado encompasses all the passion inherent to Hispanics, as is showcased in the truck's new styling and upgraded features."

German director Jurgen Bollmeyer directed the ad and another one titled "Roots," which features scenes from life in Latin America while touting the new Silverado.

"With this campaign, we intend to awaken the pride of being Hispanic in America, while also showing Hispanics how now, more than ever, this iconic American brand is part of who they are and who they will be," said Sergio Rodríguez, associate creative director at Accentmarketing, the agency that produced the ads for Chevy.

GM calls its campaign Una Marca que Dura-- "A brand that lasts."

In Hispanic focus groups, "the ad evoked tremendous pride," said GM spokeswoman Carolyn Normandin. "We think ads like this can move the needle. It's about getting in the truck and taking care of business."

She said the ad is "syngestic" with its other GM World Series Silverado ads -- called "Anthem" -- that tout American patriotism and feature John Mellencamp singing "Our Country." The ads use images of Muhammad Ali, Rosa Parks, Hurricane Katrina and the New York skyline after the Sept. 11 attacks. Both ads seek to inspire pride, she said.

GM first ran a Spanish-only ad titled "Tribute" during the 2004 World Series, but it had no spoken Spanish. It featured Spanish-language music and featured a Silverado being "saluted by Chevy low riders." It ended with the word Subete or "get on board."

Another Spanish ad ran last year during the World Series -- but didn't have Spanish subtitles like this year's ad.

You can reach David Shepardson at (202) 662 - 8735 or

© Copyright 2006 The Detroit News. All rights reserved.


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