Cannes Lions

Hit By a Bolt


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When it came to electric vehicles, media only seemed to care about Tesla. Chevrolet needed to change perception that the Silicon Valley darling was the only company capable of building an exciting EV. Chevrolet decided to break some rules by launching the vehicle somewhere other than an auto show, making bold commitments to production timing and allowing media to drive the vehicle the day it was publicly unveiled – a rarity in this industry. The PR/Communications team used new platforms to reach the target audience, and demonstrated news (rather than just telling it) to consistently steal the news cycle from Tesla and others. The goal was not simply to get a low-cost electric vehicle on the road before the competition, but to make consumers aware that the Bolt EV truly was a better vehicle, to create demand and get people to think about Chevrolet as an innovator and progressive brand.


December 2015 – Announced Bolt EV production location and held CES preview for key media.

January 2016 – Mary Barra, GM Chairman/CEO delivered CES keynote unveiling Bolt EV. Hosted 50+ media pre-production vehicle drives to underscore production timing announcement.

North American International Auto Show reveal to auto and tech press.

Wired cover story breaks.

March 2016 – Released build footage of pre-production vehicles.

May 2016 – Strategically managed drives of camouflaged vehicles to build excitement and act as a positive influence versus trying to hide product from spy photographers on the lookout for it.

August 2016 – Behind-the-scenes tour at design/battery lab/engineering center for influential media.

September 2016 – Top-tier media validated higher-than-expected electric mileage range. Announced pricing.

December 2016 – Silicon Valley (3 miles from Tesla factory) delivery of first customer Bolt EVs.

January 2017 – Hosted 100 automotive/lifestyle/international media and local influencers at Bolt EV drive event in Northern California.


The campaign – and deliberate timing of media test-drives – allowed Chevy to garner 30 awards including Best Invention by TIME, North American Car of the Year, Motor Trend Car of the Year, Green Car of the Year, Technology Car of the Year, and Popular Science “Best of What’s New.”

Chevy has seen significant improvement in its brand image since the launch, with media and customers lauding its technology advancement.

Importantly, the vehicle has driven sales in key markets for Chevrolet in California, Oregon and six additional markets. Influential buyers like Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak become Bolt EV owners. Bolt EV will be on sale nationwide by July 2017.

The campaign delivered 18,247 print/digital articles + 3,687 broadcast stories. Nearly 8,000 articles called out Tesla, with headlines like “We Just Drove the All-Electric Chevy Bolt – and Tesla is Officially in Trouble.”

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