Company overview
Chevrolet (also popularly named Chevy) is General Motors’ automobile brand division set up in 1911. Since 1919, the Chevrolet Motor Car Company has been the volume leading brand in the General Motors family inspired by Alfred Sloan’s ambition to supply a car for virtually everyone. Over 1919-1929, the famous American brand topped Henry Ford’s famous ‘T Model’ and remained the best-selling car in the United States for a decade. Today, the renowned brand pursues the internationalization strategy and penetrates global markets stretching from Europe to Australia. The brand successfully a vast array of vehicle models ranging from commercial trucks to compact automobiles. People often associate Chevrolet with General Motors.

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Company/brand name/ad agency/country
On April 22, 2016 the Commonwealth/McCann agency launched Chevy’s campaign in Detroit named ‘Little Red Corvette’ to pay tribute to the pop icon Prince who had just passed away at the age of 57. The campaign chaired by Linus Karlsson ran across North America.

Background to campaign
The advertising agency decided to use the brand’s name to pay tribute to Prince. To come up with the minimalist message, the advertisers used the popular line from Prince’s 1983 song “Baby, you’re much too fast” that virtually immortalized the brand in the 80s by paraphrasing it as “Baby, that was much too fast.”

Campaign objectives
Reportedly, the “Little Red Corvette” appeared as a tribute to Prince’s unexpected death. The advertisers aimed to attain closer brand association with both Prince and Chevrolet given their in-depth connection. Unlike many other US corporations (i.e. General Mills), Chevy’s campaigners did not want to use Prince’s name to achieve higher brand association.

Creative media strategy/idea
The idea was to quote Prince’s 1983 hit “Little Red Corvette” on the background of an astonishingly stylish Chevrolet’s car model. The co-branding strategy embraced both online and printed media to assure the widest penetration. Initially, the Corvette’s tribute appeared on Twitter and Facebook, and and then ran in six newspapers to add official touch to the campaign. In particular, the ad appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Detroit News, USA Today, and Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The very idea of the campaign, however, appeared as ‘hit or miss.’ Prince’s fans and the army of social media users harshly criticized the brands for having exploited a hot trending topic of his death. For many, such a move seemed as a misuse of the close-knit connectedness established between the brand and the deceased star. The death incident was used as the means of attracting wider audiences and gaining more popularity. At the time of grief and sorrow, some brands manipulated over good will and shared passions, many claimed back then.

Fortunately for Chevrolet and Commonwealth/McCann ad agency, the Chevy’s tribute received a high acclaim while Prince was tenuously connected to the brand and eventually immortalized it by quoting Corvette 14 times in his famous song. Furthermore, the distinctive idea behind the campaign was not to mention Prince’s name in the ad’s circumspect layout: “Baby, that was much too fast” (1958-2016) that is all one can see.

Сonclusion / Evaluation
Overall, the ‘Little Red Corvette’ campaign was successful while campaigners managed to highlight the tenuous connection between Chevrolet and Prince. In the 1980s it was Prince who borrowed GM’s Corvette icon and ethos to write his song ‘Little Red Corvette.’ This means that the whole story had double effect and both sides appeared in a win-win situation. Apparently, GM had all reasons to honor their beloved artist by running the creative campaign that brought association with both Prince and Chevrolet. Unfortunately, other brands like General Mills failed to attain such a marketing effect while speculating on Prince’s name.