Chevrolet Sonic: Firsts

Goodby Silverstein & Partners

Business situation & campaign objectives: Big risk, big reward

Among the great thrills of research are the moments when we are able to identify, unpack and reveal a new insight for the first time. When advertising research is successful, the insight at its core persuades consumers to think and act differently about a product. But what happens when we uncover an insight in our consumer research and use it to persuade the client to think and act differently about how they advertise? With the Chevrolet Sonic, the opportunity found us. Our research insight triggered a domino effect so large, not only did it inspire an on-going series of calculated risks by the client in their approach to launching a new vehicle, but also, it traveled onwards – ultimately to create change in popular culture.

In the summer of 2011, Chevrolet unveiled the Sonic: a new, hypermodern small car. The product, coming from Chevrolet, neared contradiction. Consumer research for the Sonic that layered data from General Motors Actionable Insights, RL Polk, Maritz NVCS, Big Research and GfK Automotive Imagery Assessment identified a single, shared mindset that would connect Baby Boomers – the mass volume audience of new car buyers – with Millennials, a new and aspirational consumer target for the brand. We called this single mindset "The Getting Starteds". Older and younger, these individuals seek out new experiences in the face of other's humdrum routines. Our quantitative Consumer Refinement research (GSP) showed that what unites them is an energy and optimism for authentic discovery. We also learned that Younger Getting Starteds saw their vehicle as an extension of themselves…