Chevy ‘Cashes’ in on London Billboard?

Chevrolet got quite a bit of attention with a billboard covered in cash.  To celebrate the launch of its new Aveo, Chevy covered a billboard in one-pence coins.  The billboard was unveiled in London’s New Oxford Street and caused quite a commotion.  Within 30 minutes, all 750,000+ pence (equaling the price of the car–‘sort of…’) were gone. One Web site noted that 20,000 pence works out to a little less than $400 at today’s exchange rate, so even if a single person picked the entire billboard clean, it wouldn’t quite provide enough cash to actually buy one of the cars.  Interesting, yes.  Effective? I think that is still to be seen.  It was creative and did break through some clutter, but the real question of success depends on the objectives.  Was it press coverage, to simply build brand awareness in general, or to sell the car itself? 

Given that Chevrolet’s Les Turton said that “There have been some great car adverts before, but none that has stopped traffic and actually put money back into the motorist’s pocket so this is certainly a first.  We’re glad we’ve topped up lots of people’s wallets, purses and, in some cases, rucksacks, but it would have been nice for the billboard to last a little longer than 30 minutes.” 

My question is… is that a good thing or a bad thing?  If a billboard lasts for only 30 minutes, the cost of a car and the billboard space is quite an investment.  If the creative itself can’t stand alone (and if you take a look, it isn’t all that compelling), then once the pence is gone, what’s left?  A picture of a car that, with all due respect, resembles an upgraded Pinto, and certainly won’t stop traffic — pun intended– may not be the best PR and/or marketing strategy. 

Every promotion needs a goal, objective, strategy, tactics and most importantly, measurement.  They got some attention, but did it sell?  There is nothing more exhilarating as a marketing professional than to see creativity at work – to see it generate results.  However, agencies bringing home Clio’s, don’t always ‘bring home sales.’ 

Therefore, if the strategy was press coverage, it got 30 minutes plus or minus (plus life on the Web which is where I found it); however, if it was for consumers to run out and buy the car, let’s just say I haven’t read about those successful results as of yet. Reaching the consumer is great, but which consumer and when, where, how and what action you are prompting them to take are paramount if you want the ROI most companies are looking to achieve.  So although I applaud the concept, I still question the return. 

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