Chevrolet positions 2016 Spark as ‘ultimate mobile device’

Car maker positions affordably-priced vehicle to tech enthusiasts

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 3.08.13 PMWhat looked at first glance like a gigantic smartphone box sitting in the middle of Toronto’s Eaton Centre turned out to be the 2016 Chevrolet Spark, which was positioned not only to car buffs, but technology enthusiasts in a campaign that described it as “The Ultimate Mobile Device.”

Available in Canadian dealerships by next week, the 2016 is notable not only for its price point, (starting at $11,595) but the number of next-generation connectivity and software features integrated into the vehicle. This includes not only fourth-generation long-term evolution wireless (4G LTE) but Apple CarPlay, which allows iPhone features to be used in-car, as well as Google’s Android Auto and an “infotainment” system to make calls, listen to music and more.

As part of the live event, which was also streamed online, Chevrolet hired consumer technology experts Amber Mac and Marc Saltzman to host the unveiling, which had been teased by PR firm Weber Shandwick and on social media with the #sparkmobile hashtag. Mac told the audience she had been intrigued by the number of guesses consumers were making about what the “ultimate mobile device” could be prior to the reveal.

“One person said they thought we were going to have Gwyneth Paltrow jump out of a box. That was one of my favourites,” she said.

“I’ve been to a lot of unboxings,” Saltzman added, “but never something like this.”

Chevrolet Canada advertising manager Paul Bailey told Marketing when he and his team sat down with Commonwealth/McCann, its creative AOR, it was obvious that doing a traditional launch at an auto show wouldn’t suffice.

“We know this audience doesn’t react well to having messages forced on it,” he said. “With this audience there’s a fear of missing out, and that always-on lifestyle that they live. That doesn’t really remind me of a car. It reminds me more of that mobile phone that we all carry.”

At one point Chevrolet had even considered unveiling the 2016 Spark at a nearby Best Buy location. Instead, the retailer will be setting up a display surrounding the vehicle at the Eaton Centre with smartphones and other devices that show they can be used as part of the in-car experience.

Over time, Bailey said advertising would continue to highlight the Spark’s tech features, but also focus on its affordability. There will be a “third act” to the vehicle’s marketing later in the year, he added.

Chevrolet will also be working with its media agency Carat on the campaign.

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