When Jim Perkins kicks off Chevrolet's new advertising campaign in New York on Mar. 16, he'll be trying to jump-start a sputtering giant. The honcho of General Motors' largest division has watched Chevy's market share skid nearly two percentage points since 1991--a continuation of a decades-old decline. It ranks below the national average, too, in both quality and customer satisfaction, according to market researcher J.D. Power & Associates of Agoura Hills, Calif.
Chevy's fresh-faced ads will feature a new tag line--"Genuine Chevrolet"--in place of the long-running "Heartbeat of America," which was dropped last fall. They will focus on new models and pitch Chevy as a revitalized organization that takes care of its customers.
Still, Chevy's revival is far from assured. A redesigned, sporty Camaro and new S-10 pickup are selling well, and the spiffy new version of its top-selling Cavalier due this fall may do even better. But the poor-selling Lumina APV minivan and aging Corsica and Beretta compacts, for example, won't be replaced for several years. "We didn't lose leadership in a year," laments James K. Lust, president of Lust Chevrolet in Aberdeen, S.D. "And we're not going to get it back in a year."