“Real people, not actors.” Those four words are all it takes to elicit memories of Chevrolet’s well-known US advertising campaign of the same title, and whether you sit rapt or groan in disapproval whenever one of the ads comes on, you have to admit that they’ve stayed with you.
“Deviating at this point would be reckless,” he told Ad Age. “We are now 25 months in and prior to this campaign it had been 30 years since we had had a really unified market approach that everything was hanging together from Chevrolet.
“In the last 25 months we have learned a tremendous amount, not only on the campaign equities itself and how to fine tune it and keep it fresh, but also on the power of focus and alignment and consistency over time.”
Asked why he thinks Chevrolet’s “Real People, Not Actors” ads have been successful at their goal of exposing consumers to “the real Chevrolet, today’s Chevrolet,” Edwards said: “[The campaign is] young at heart. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. The experiments are enjoyable to watch. We try to get the positive reactions from consumers which are plentiful… The breakthrough levels are at record highs. People now when an ad starts running they recognize that, one, it’s from Chevrolet; and two, they remember it more readily than other advertising.”
Edwards went on to say that he believes “the recipe of real people reacting in a very authentic honest way to Chevrolet and being surprised [by] and enjoying what we’re putting on the road today is very, very powerful.”
Granted, while Chevrolet doesn’t intend to ruin a good thing by deviating too far from a working formula, the ads still need to try and stay fresh. So Ad Age also spoke with Gary Pascoe, Chief Creative Officer at advertising firm Commonwealth//McCann, who said: “We don’t hold ourselves to any rules like it’s got to be this or that. For us, it’s how are we going to surprise people. As we move forward I think you’ll see new things where the focus group moderator will be a moderator in a focus group situation, or he may play a different role. He may go undercover as a valet. We’ve put him undercover as an Uber driver.”
Like Edwards, Pascoe was a fan of the execution of Chevrolet’s Lego-themed “Real People” ad, which featured the Batmobile from the Lego Batman movie. “We Lego-ized one of our commercials and instead of a Chevrolet it was the Chevy Batmobile,” he said. “That is a real fun area creatively to play with when you are well-known and have been out there long enough that you can start playing with and having fun with the rules you set up yourself. I think that is a cool place to be where you can be a little bit self-referential.”
For the full interview with Chevrolet’s Paul Edwards and Commonwealth//McCann’s Gary Pascoe, visit AdAge.com.