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Old 02-18-2008, 10:25 PM   #1
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On Malibu and CTS....and 'future' Chevrolets

From stodgy back to young and sexy - GM shifts gears

One commercial used self-effacing humor. Another was sultry and highly stylized.

The two cars are as different as their advertising campaigns. But in both cases General Motors Corp. had the same objective: marketing as distinctive as the designs of the new 2008 Malibu and Cadillac CTS.

Beset by record losses and a challenge to its title as the world's top carmaker, GM is focusing much of its rejuvenation work on these two models. And with image everything in the high-stakes world of marketing, a carmaker's future can hinge on the success - or failure - of the positioning of just a few models.

"We're not just relaunching Malibu, we're relaunching the entire Chevrolet car lineup with this product," said Cheryl Catton, Chevrolet's director of marketing. "Every product that we launch following this, the same level of design and quality will be built into the vehicle."

The new Malibu is bolder in design and more tasteful in style. It's sporty and has finishes, such as chrome trim, in ways you don't associate with midsize sedans. The target audience is younger, hipper, and more style-conscious consumers, and GM is spending more than $100 million trying to reach them.

Poking fun at the image of the Malibu of the 1980s and 1990s as a dowdy econobox, the commercials portrayed the old version as so unforgettable as to be invisible. The message, as if it weren't obvious, is the new Malibu is impossible to ignore.

Ads for the new Cadillac CTS sports sedans seem just as hard to miss. These unabashedly ooze sex and power - none of the graying solemnity often associated with the brand. One television spot, crafted by Boston ad shop Modernista, features a sultry Kate Walsh of "Private Practice" driving a red CTS and delivering the line, "When you turn your car on, does it return the favor?"
Within just weeks of the new campaign, red Cadillac CTS sales jumped. One new owner is Liz Vanzura, global marketing director for Cadillac, who said the campaign has been so successful it will likely be the model for all of the brand's future marketing.
"We're putting a very young-at-heart, spirited, sexy luxury image out there," she said, "and it's really working in the luxury space that is very crowded."

The CTS is sleeker and more stylish than its predecessors, to compete with the continental sophistication of European sports sedans from Mercedes and BMW. And with the juiced-up CTS-V, Cadillac is also willing to compete on performance as well.
The Malibu, meanwhile, has debuted to critical acclaim from car cognoscenti. Nearly all the car buff magazines and blogs have hailed the Malibu as one of the best US-made cars of 2008.

And GM's intended message does appear to be getting through to its target: young design-conscious drivers such as Jameson Neumann. A graduate of the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, one of the nation's top schools for car design, Neumann is a freelance car designer. He owned several Chevrolets in the early 1990s but has since moved elsewhere in the GM stable and owns several Saabs.

"Since I've been alive, there really hasn't been a real competitor to the Accord and the Camry," the 27-year-old Neumann said. "The last Malibu was an absurdly awkward-looking car. It was pretty anonymous. This one is getting attention for all the right reasons. Hearing people rave about the interior quality is pretty exciting for a GM car."

This returns the Malibu to something of its roots. It burst onto the scene in 1964 as a youthful, stylish car that could be bought in a basic version with a genteel 120-horsepower V6 engine or decked out in full muscle-car trim with a 300-horsepower V8 that could shame Mustangs at streetlights. Even the original name given to that first generation, the Chevelle Malibu, seemed to have a certain jauntiness.
But the model's identity pitched and yawed during the energy crisis of the mid-1970s, and it eventually lost its way among potential buyers. It became a car all too easy to ignore.

"What happened unfortunately was that we moved into the late '80s and we really felt the consumer demand for fuel-efficiency and less for sporty fun, and a lot less for styling," Catton said.

Meanwhile, first Japan - with the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Nissan Altima - then Korea, with Kia and Hyundai, ate away at the Malibu's market share.

Successful as they are, those cars came to be less and less distinct over time: Remove their nameplates and line them up in a parking lot, and most people would find it tough to tell which was which. Car designers had incorporated so many cues from competitors that most offerings morphed into homogenized riffs on the same theme.

About four years ago, Chevrolet engineers went to work benchmarking virtually every element of a Camry, the segment-leading sedan that has been one of the best-selling cars in the United States, Catton said. Closer to the Malibu's fall 2007 launch, Catton and GM general manager Ed Peper visited the homes of Accord, Altima, and Camry owners to ask about their perceptions of quality.

"They would point to things like the jeweled chrome piece around the HVAC knob," Catton said. "We knew that based on what we had seen in the Malibu, that it was going to play itself well to the consumers when they saw it."
This is the part that sould really stick out to you:

"We're not just relaunching Malibu, we're relaunching the entire Chevrolet car lineup with this product," said Cheryl Catton, Chevrolet's director of marketing. "Every product that we launch following this, the same level of design and quality will be built into the vehicle."
"Keep the faith." - Fbodfather
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Old 02-18-2008, 11:20 PM   #2
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ok... i'm confused so whats this mean? that their redoing the cars like cobalt and stuff
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Old 02-18-2008, 11:58 PM   #3
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This means look at the Malibu and be happy because thats the quality of interior and overall product is going to not only be placed into the Malibu, but the entire fleet, which includes the Camaro. So glad GM is marketing the right people and listening to their mainstay in the market, aka people like me and others in this forum.
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Old 02-19-2008, 12:08 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by MCPOAJ View Post
ok... i'm confused so whats this mean? that their redoing the cars like cobalt and stuff
soon, but what it really means is that the camaro is going to be about as nice as the malibu is
Note, if I've gotten any facts wrong in the above, just ignore any points I made with them
Originally Posted by FbodFather
My sister's dentist's brother's cousin's housekeeper's dog-breeder's nephew sells coffee filters to the company that provides coffee to General Motors......
........and HE WOULD KNOW!!!!

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Old 02-19-2008, 12:25 AM   #5
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Tha bodes very well for the Camaro I must say
"Fifty years from now, when you're looking back at your life, don't you want to be able to say you had the guts to get in the car?"
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Old 02-19-2008, 02:26 AM   #6
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And I must agree. But, both the Malibu and Camaro are going to start out at basically the same MSRP...V6 at least being at 19K. With that being said, the quality interior would have to match that of the Mailbu...if not be better...
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