‘Real People’ Ads to Stick Around, Apparently They Work

Not since “the Caddy that zigs” has a General Motors marketing campaign spurred so many jokes among the automotive punditry and public alike. GM’s much-lampooned “Real People, Not Actors” commercials have become the target of

GM’s much-lampooned “Real People, Not Actors” commercials have become the target of spoof videos mimicking the often eye-rolling exploits of ordinary human beings mistaking Chevrolet Cruze and Malibu models for taut, European luxury sedans. Expect more of those.

Expect more of those.

Despite the comedic backlash, General Motors claims it has no plans to back down from the ads, ensuring more spoof fodder for years to come.

In an interview with Automotive News, Chevrolet’s vice president of marketing, Paul Edwards, defended the campaign on the grounds of consumer engagement. The ads score high in memorability, branding, and likability, according to Nielsen.

The ratings company has even bestowed honors on Chevy for its campaign, handing over an award for best automotive tech ad for the brand’s “Unbranded” commercial. That’s the one where a Malibu, badge removed, elicits responses of, “It feels like a BMW” and remarks about its $80,000 appearance. Naturally, jokesters went to town on that.

“The value of a campaign, now that we’re two years into it, is that people are familiar with the tenets of the campaign,” Edwards told AN. “They’ve become more familiar with the ingredients such as this whole idea of doing experiments with real people. Ultimately, they become more familiar with the brand.”

“If we were to change the structure of the communications every month, as an example, we’d basically be starting from square one,” he added.

The first “Real People” commercials went live on April 1, 2015, eventually branching out into more competitive fare — like the somewhat controversial Ford vs. Chevy truck bed comparison test. Edwards claims the campaign will see a “freshening” when spots for the 2018 Equinox roll out this month.

How long can Chevrolet keep at it? About as long as the spots garner attention.

“From where I sit two years in, there’s no sign that it’s losing steam,” said Stewart. “In fact, every month, like I said, it continues to pick up in terms of our ability to break through and drive opinion. For the foreseeable future, we don’t have a change in mind.”

Unfortunately for Chevy, it seems spoof videos now top the list following a Google search for the brand’s ads.

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