Stunts — from being the first car to skydive off a plane and kick flip over a giant skateboard — are what Chevrolet’s marketing team had in mind when creating a plan to increase awareness for the Sonic among its target generation audience, those 25-30 years old.
The vehicle, which debuted September 2011, also starred in an Ok Go music video, bungee jumped off a building and was equipped with a robotic arm to paint a mural. Each stunt was a first time accomplishment for a car and was aimed to channel college students who are starting their lives and experiencing firsts of their own.
“If you look at someone graduating college, they are starting out in life particularly with a new job, new apartment, new adventures, new opportunities and hopefully a new car in that whole process,” said Dora Nowicki, Sonic marketing manager.
With college students in mind, Nowicki and her department began brainstorming marketing ideas that would appeal to a generation of tech-savvy individuals, using social media and the Internet as their main tools.
“The original theory is the idea of experiencing ‘firsts,’ which became the opportunity for Sonic to have a little fun when we launched to also experience firsts in the market place,” Nowicki said. “This way, we could tie back to the fun and adventures everyone has in the beginning.”
In addition to using social media, the team created letsdothis.com, a website which provides car information, displays YouTube videos of all the car’s stunts, offers free music and gives quick links to their social media sites — Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
“It’s an ode to what this car can do and how it can really be the friend in your life,” Nowicki said. “It’s the friend that takes the chances, the one that really pushes the limits, the one your parents would prefer you to not hang out with. But it’s the buddy that you always have fun with and that’s the whole premise of the campaign, the stunts and the personification of the car.”
And she thinks it’s working well. After a commercial for the car was aired during the Super Bowl, Sonic’s sales have skyrocketed. After four months, sales surpassed the Ford Fiesta. The Sonic is currently the second bestselling subcompact car in the U.S., trailing the Nissan Versa.
According to Nowicki, half the people who purchase the Sonic are not previous Chevrolet owners. She said most people in the age group were only aware of their trucks, something they wanted to change.
“This was our opportunity to introduce a whole new clientele to the Chevrolet brand,” Nowicki said. “The Chevrolet car line up is as compelling from a style, fuel efficiency and functionality perspective as anyone else.
To give buyers the opportunity to provide feedback and critique their cars, GM created SonicSpeaks. The company asked questions about what buyers like and don’t like to get feedback while trying to build a community of Sonic owners. The feedback given was routed to the Sonic Team for review and action as warranted.
“It was a different approach to how we get feedback,” said Steve Brock, Lake Orion plant manager. “This way, it’s constant. It’s better than surveys … people can go out and take a picture of your car or make a video of what they like or dislike and we use their feedback to make the car better.”
According to Reuters, the Sonic will be one of the first vehicles offering Apple’s Siri eyes-free functionality, which will allow an iPhone or iPad user to use Siri without looking at the device to initiate the feature. It can be used to schedule a meeting, send a text message, among many other tasks, all while using voice commands.
For more information on the Sonic, visit www.letsdothis.com