Our beloved Brew.

Our beloved Brew.
R.I.P. Big guy.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Chevrolet Pricing Not for Everyone

In yet one more shabby  attempt by the automotive industry to convince the American public that there's no need to negotiate price at a dealership and accept "No Hassle" pricing, Chevrolet has introduced its latest ad campaign titled "Chevy Total Confidence Pricing." Excuse me if I find this message laughable.

Two TV ads are particularly offensive to me as a consumer and baffling to me as a brand strategist. The first ad features a couple who inform a salesperson they are "comfortable" paying the price written on a window placard. The salesman is thrilled to tell them that's the price everyone pays - a whopping $350 under the manufacturer's suggested retail price. With their offer accepted, the woman can't help but show her admiration for her partner's negotiating prowess with a "Nice job, baby!" Really? $350 on an $18,500 car is beyond pathetic as a discount percentage.

I believe Chevy is diminishing its own brand by breaking the first rule of branding: Be authentic. This lack of authenticity is even more evident in a second commercial where a customer is told there is no need to haggle and questions the Chevy person by asking, "Don't you have to check with your manager?" To which the reply is, "I am the manager." Again, I ask, really? How likely is it that a sales manager is working on the showroom floor taking customers away from sales people who are almost all on commission? It's not only unlikely, it lacks authenticity. Why portray situations that won't match a customer's true experience?

The second rule of branding is: be relevant. Trying to convince people that a $350 savings off sticker price is a bargain when the model year end is rapidly approaching lacks relevance. You could walk into a dealership today and get many hundreds and perhaps thousands off with just a little haggling. Wait a month and they'll be discounting the same car by even more. Wouldn't a genuine sale that encourages customers to get an early-bird offer, a better selection and significant savings ahead of next month's crowd be more relevant?

The third rule of branding is: Be consistent. I've seen no less than three different core messages from Chevy during the Olympics. It seems they took out every commercial they have in the closet to air in this rotation. Another angle Chevrolet  is playing is the claim of confidence it has in its product by stating in a commercial that good companies stand behind their products. "If you're unhappy with your new Chevy for any reason, you can return it." Notice they emphasize new Chevy. For all the pride they have in their workmanship, they offer one of the worst warranties in the industry. Try to take back a Chevy product that is a few months old that is not performing up to your expectations and see how well they stand behind their quality.

Coincidentally, my family is in the market for a new car. Guess which manufacturer we won't be considering. Simply put, I don't have confidence in Chevy products based on their shallow commericals. To paraphrase another popular Chevrolet tag line, "Chevy (B.S.) runs deep."