Now maybe it’s the cynic in me, or perhaps it’s because I’m still in the formative years of my PR education, but I have a sneaky feeling the Chevrolet marketing/PR team might be up to some publicity seeking tactics at the moment. Today was the second time in the past few months that I’ve read a story that indirectly involved Chevrolet, putting quite a positive spin on the company.
I stumbled across the news piece on page 15 of the Sun, whilst on the train to Chesterfield this evening. Now before you start assassinating my character, I was only reading the Sun because I happened to find a copy on my seat as I boarded the train. And since our lecturers and guest speakers have been drilling into us that we need to take in a variety of news sources, I decided to pick it up and take a flick through. So after swiftly breezing past the 2-page spread about who Ashley Cole had been cheating on Cheryl with, and maybe not so swiftly breezing past a piece about Kelly Brook (assassinate away), I arrived on a story about Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson entitled ‘Sir Alex’s fury after his car is panged’.
The piece basically said Ferguson had scraped his car, and as a result was rather angry.
But along the way in telling this very mundane story, the journalist was able to specifically mention; Ferguson had damaged the bodywork on his Chevrolet 4×4, Manchester United had signed a sponsorship deal with Chevrolet, and Ferguson had “banned his young stars from owning flashy Chevrolet sports cars”.
Chevrolet, Chevrolet, Chevrolet. Oh, and did I mention Chevrolet?
I had read a similar story on the BBC website about how Paul Scholes’ luxury Chevrolet had been stolen while leaving the keys in the ignition of his car one frosty morning as he was heating it up. Both stories talked about United’s recently signed sponsorship deal with the American automotive company. Chevrolet is a unique car company because their prices range from the affordable to the lavish. By talking of these high status sports stars either owning, or the younger players being banned from having Chevrolets, it does a few things for the brand. Firstly, it gets the brand of Chevrolet in the consciousness of the British public. And secondly, it creates a prestige about Chevrolet and makes their cars more desirable, even though it is a brand that is actually fairly accessible for people who can afford a car.
Chevrolet is a massive company in the US, and after surviving the recession they are clearly looking to expand across Europe, and the rest of the world after paying Manchester United £357 million to have their logo emblazoned on the red shirts. I could be way off the mark with my assumptions, but how these stories filter through to journalists seems a little odd to me. It will be interesting to see whether there are any more product placement-style stories involving Manchester United in the coming months.