- The advertising for the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray will target wives of prospective owners and Porsche enthusiasts, Chevrolet said.
- The upcoming Corvette advertising will take an unusual twist, with luxury highlighted as much as performance.
- The advertising will attempt to shift what Chevrolet says is a negative perception of the man's car in the eyes of women.
MONTEREY, California — Chevrolet is taking a bold step and aiming the redesigned 2014 Corvette Stingray primarily at enthusiasts who prefer German brands.
"We really want to go after the people who buy Porsches, Jaguars, Audis and BMWs and try and get them to look at our car and think a little bit differently about it," said John Fitzpatrick, Chevrolet's marketing manager for the redesigned Corvette. "We will try to convince them that we are a worthy competitor."
The advertising push will try to win over buyers who would never consider a Corvette.
The average Corvette buyer is a man who is over 60.
The redesigned Corvette Stingray coupe will arrive at selected Chevrolet dealers in late September or early October. The convertible will bow in December.
While no one is using the term reinvention, Corvette is stressing luxury on nearly an equal footing as performance, and it is planning special events to emphasize the point with "life precisionists."
"For us it is a marketing term," said Fitzpatrick who was interviewed at a Corvette event in California. "For these customers precision plays a high factor in their life. They are people who look at life and say, 'I really need to have the best of everything.' They look for precise handling in their vehicles, precise functionality in their vehicles. They are very particular."
They also have a higher income than today's Corvette buyer and are better educated.
"It does not matter if they are men or women," Fitzpatrick said. "We've just got to change that overall perception" about the Corvette.
Fitzpatrick admits most women have a negative perception of Corvette. The car is perceived as a man's car with its emphasis on racing and straight-line performance. Fitzpatrick said many men want to own a Corvette, but their response is "my wife does not like the stigma around the Corvette."
"But we have to change her," he said. "We've got to explain the car. We have to show it is a great driving car, it is a great handling car and it is a very comfortable car. It is a car you can (take) on a long vacation."
Advertising might show a well-dressed couple getting into their new Corvette after dining or staying at an exclusive restaurant or resort. The car's premium napa leather-wrapped interior might be highlighted. Previous commercials stressed the car's racing heritage or the joy of ownership, showing a male driver behind the wheel as the car races through the countryside.
The luxury cues in the ads will focus on Corvette's interior. The new high-end optional interior package has been praised by some journalists as being more luxurious than Porsche's. Previous-generation Corvettes were criticized for the cheap look of the interior.
The new Corvette's 3LT interior package includes leather, navigation system, color head-up display and other equipment. The package stickers for $8,005. The base Corvette Stingray coupe is priced at $51,995 including $995 for transportation. The convertible carries a $56,995 sticker price including transportation.
Fitzpatrick said several programs are planned this year and next for the owners of Porsches and other nameplates, events where they will get hands-on experience behind the wheel.
"Porsche is a great car," he said. "They have a very loyal customer base, just like Corvette. Just like we have customers who are on the fringe end, who are looking at what's better, what's next, we are trying in some ways to get those fringe Porsche customers as well, who are loyal to Porsche, but they are thinking what else is out there.
"In some ways it is trying to convert the customer, each customer, one at a time. It is changing perceptions."
But with change comes risk. The 2014 Corvette Stingray's exterior styling has been criticized by some Corvette loyalists. The car has angular shapes; the previous models were curvaceous. They argue that Corvette has abandoned some of the iconic styling cues that the car has carried for decades. But Fitzpatrick said significant styling changes were necessary to attract new, younger buyers.
"Research showed that people who were not Corvette loyalists would look at the car, especially the rear end, and they would think the car never changed," Fitzpatrick said. "They think it is the same car from 20 years ago."
The round dual taillights that have been a signature styling cue since 1963 have been abandoned, replaced with large rectangular shaped taillights.
The new exterior design includes the addition of a large rectangular-shaped side window, located behind the door. The styling feature is common on some Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche models, but never on any previous-generation Corvette.
"So we know we are controversial," Fitzpatrick said. "You had to take that leap, especially if you wanted to start getting on people's radar."
Edmunds says: Will women — and Porsche fans — warm up to the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray?