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Chevy Puts a New Spin on an Old Model

By Jan 10, 2011

Chevy is giving its old-style events some modern whizbang with a dose of augmented reality.

Since November, a group of about 24 Chevy dealers in the Washington, DC, area have been integrating the latest interactive technology into their tried-and-true lead-generation events. The winter and spring events, which showcase Chevy’s key brands—Cruze, Equinox, Malibu, Traverse, Silverado, and Camaro—are being held inside malls including Potomac Mills, Montgomery Mall, and Dulles Town Center.

In addition to offering cars on-site for visitors to look at and climb in, the events include the familiar touch-screen kiosks where consumers can build their own cars, only with a twist. People use a virtual “professional air sprayer” and their fingers to paint the car, then move on to choose the rims, tires, decorative stripes, and other elements. The car can be spun around for a 360-degree look-see, and people are encouraged to share their car virally with friends through Facebook Connect.

But what really gets visitors energized is when they are handed a 6” x 9” card with an augmented reality marker on the back. The visitor holds the card up to a camera mounted on a 65-inch TV screen that reads the marker and creates a computer-generated 3-D model of one of Chevy’s dream cars: the Camero. By moving the card, the person can “drive” the car as they hear the engine roar.

The technology is also used to dole out instant prizes. After about 10 seconds, a message pops up on the TV screen indicating whether the person has won a prize, such as a Chevy-branded T-shirt, hat, key chain, or other promotional products.

“This is our prize mechanism, our giveaway tool,” said Garrett O’Shea, executive vice president of RedPeg Marketing, which is handling the program. The technology “allows us to keep people there for a nice amount of time.”

Another goal of integrating the latest technologies into an event is to modernize the brand. “The technology correlates back to what the brand itself is all about,” O’Shea said. “That’s expressing that the brand itself is technologically savvy as well.”

Of course, for the dealers, it’s all about collecting information from consumers who are planning to buy or are thinking about buying a car. To qualify leads, driver’s licenses are scanned, and email addresses and phones numbers are collected, as are responses to basic questions about car-buying plans.

The dealers are measuring the success of the program by how much time people are spending there, the number of qualified leads generated (which are sent to the dealer group within 24 hours), and the responses to the event components. So far, it looks like the work is paying off. Between Nov. 13, when the events began, and Jan. 9, information was collected from 1,254 people, and 826 wanted follow -up from a dealer. No conversion rates were available.

“We have just been in the malls, and because of the look of the display it’s been driving people in,” said Robin Sutton, Chevrolet zone manager, who oversees 55 dealers in the mid-Atlantic states. “We have not done any advertising. We’re still building locations where we’re going to be for 2011, and once we have that calendar in place we’ll look at maybe putting a tag line into our regular advertising.”