SHANGHAI, CHINA — The collaboration between car brand Chevrolet China and the Discovery is now in its sixth year. Contrary to the grand narrative advertising style of previous years, this winter, Chevrolet partnered with creative agency McCann China to invite Ed Stafford, famous from the third season of First Man Out, to bring a humorous and unique campaign to Chinese consumers, announcing the official debut of the Chevrolet Equinox Exploration’s limited edition.
Ed Stafford is an English explorer, with around five million followers on Bilibili and TikTok in China. He holds the Guinness World Record for being the first human ever to walk the length of the Amazon River.
In 2012, Stafford filmed a three-part special for the Discovery Channel where he was dropped on the uninhabited tropical island of Olorua, in the Pacific, for 60 days, with no food or equipment to help him survive. The documentary show Ed Stafford: Naked and Marooned depicts a hard-core image of Stafford, often starving for three or four days at a time, earning him the nickname “Hungry Ed” by Chinese fans.
“We felt that Stafford, with his strength, stamina and endurance, would be the perfect match for the Chevrolet Equinox that is equally robust, whatever the terrain,” said Vincent Fang, Brand Director of SAIC-GM’s Chevrolet business, “Equinox is a high-performance SUV that give consumers a strong sense of security and safety. We aim for it to be the vehicle of choice for consumers who love the freedom to explore.”
The campaign commenced at the end of November, with Stafford releasing behind-the-scenes clips of the third season of First Man Out on his Tiktok account. Shortly before Christmas, the five-minute full version behind-the-scenes highlights was released :
Behind the BTS video
Yaho Yeh, ECD of McCann’s Shanghai Chevrolet team explained: “The target audience for the whole campaign is the fan group of Stafford and the Discovery Channel. The message to them is super simple: Stafford is such an valliant and courageous man, and Chevrolet gives him super robust support. We took a relaxed and fun behind-the-scenes approach for this Stafford campaign, with all of the participants in the BTS video improvising, so the final film feels as authentic as a documentary.”
After confirming the IP collaboration between the show and Stafford, the creative team combed Stafford’s social media accounts for more inspiration. They found so many fans engaging with Stafford and sharing their suggestions and questions, but Stafford hardly ever responded! This inspired the creative direction to shoot a BTS video “responding to the fans.”
A Chevrolet to be cleaned
As the behind-the-scenes videos went online one by one, the dirty Chevrolet Equinox featured in the video, drove through the clean and tidy streets of Shanghai, attracting amount of attention from passers-by:
After arousing all kinds of suspicions during the Christmas holidays, this Chevrolet Equinox was parked on at the entrance slope of a key shopping mall in Shanghai for a pop-up exhibition.
This also included various small objects that Stafford used when recording the program, of special interest for people who love nature and the outdoors. A blade made of stone, Stafford’s combat boots, a jungle lizard… To increase engagement, there are also some clues hidden at the scene, to encourage people to scan the QR code to watch Stafford’s video. Viewers could even pick up a water gun and participate in a car washing game.
Across the whole campaign, from teaser videos to creating suspense in Shanghai’s downtown area, online and offline releases of limited editions, to the pop-up event triggering discussions and social buzz, a Chevrolet Equinox that needs to be cleaned is smartly embedded into the story from the beginning to the end.
“My favorite part of this campaign is the creative idea of the behind-the-scenes footage, which breaks through usual styles of entertainment marketing, and is truly eye-catching. Thanks to the generous support and trust of our clients, we could create a fully-integrated campaign far away from normal advertisements.” Henry Ho, the general manager of McCann’s Shanghai Chevrolet team, said, “From the social engagements with Stafford fans, to the offline pop-up event, we hope that consumers can resonate with the spirit, and understand more about the robust support that Chevrolet can provide.”