"Chevrolet is by far our biggest brand, between 70-80% of our business, and it has the broadest portfolio," Barger told PRWeek. As part of GM's strategy to focus on its four core brands, the company decided to take just Chevrolet to this event.
"Every possible demographic that you would be looking to sell a vehicle to, they are going to be represented at this conference and Chevrolet speaks to all those demographics," Barger added. "This is the audience we have to win back."
Starting on March 8, Chevrolet is sponsoring eight road trip teams, of four to five participants, who will drive Chevrolet vehicles from their towns to SXSW, participating in challenges designed to interact with the communities, chronicling their experience online, and "trying to draw the community in as much as possible," Barger said.
At the event, Chevrolet will have vehicles for attendees to test drive, run the Volt Recharge Lounge for recharging electronic devices, host an event at a nearby BBQ restaurant, and discuss all its activities on Facebook and Twitter. The brand will also be promoting its 2011 Chevy Volt.
"Chevrolet will be part of the fun, rather than the center of it," Barger said, noting that in order to engage, the brand must "help consumers and potential customers do what they already want to do" and "provide an Austin experience." The interaction at SXSW, he added, are not about interacting with people who are currently in the market to buy vehicles, but it is more of a long-term strategy to keep Chevrolet at the top of consumers' minds in the future.
Fleishman-Hillard is the PR agency leading the SXSW campaign, and GM worked with its internal marketing and communications teams on the promotion. The marketing team worked on a partnership with Spin magazine to take place during the music portion of the conference.
Chevrolet will also work to build upon its SXSW outreach, Barger said, following up with new fans and followers, sponsoring a tweetup for the winning team, and leveraging social and traditional media coverage of its work at SXSW.
Chevrolet is also signed on to be a sponsor of SXSW in 2011 and 2012, and Barger adds, "It has to be about what we do beyond this."