Car launches usually require a spectacular setting, lights, models
surrounding the vehicle and a big reveal. But when the product is a van
and it's aimed at the Commercial Vehicles (CV) market a different
approach may be needed.
General Motors (GM) and HP:ICM thought so with the launch of the Opel
Vivaro in Duisberg, Germany. Over a two-day event, an audience of sales
consultants had the opportunity to learn about the van and how to sell
Driving the action
'In CV sales, a good experience with the dealer is the primary reason
for purchase,' says HP:ICM chairman and creative director Nigel
Lloyd-Jones. 'The Vivaro will only be a success if the sales consultants
really drive the action. It won't be driven by a PR and advertising
campaign, but by consultants directly contacting potential
With this in mind GM wanted an event, designed by HP:ICM, that could
teach the sales consultants about the product and at the same time
motivate the sales force. To do this effectively the balance needed to
'We had to be very careful with the purely motivational and educational
aspects of this event,' explains Lloyd-Jones. 'We had to get that right
and I think we've struck the right balance.'
Despite this, GM marketing operations launch concepts manager Peter
Schmid feels that combining the two elements will weaken one
'Maybe we're losing a bit of the hardcore sales training itself, but
we're picking up a lot on the motivational part,' he says. 'In the past
we have done an excellent job on the technical aspects of selling
vehicles, but we found that the motivational part was missing. If people
are motivated it makes for a better totally trained sales force.'
The first day concentrated on 'hitting the target' and required people
to think about the customers. Delegates were split into groups, each
represented by an icon of the trade or business at which the Vivaro was
aiming. These included florists, carpenters and furniture movers.
On the second day delegates got to drive the van before having to come
up with a sales plan to take back to their dealerships.
'We had to engage our audience with a direct experience of what the
vehicle is like to work with,' says Lloyd-Jones. 'Activities included
loading and unloading and got people physically involved.'
According to Lloyd-Jones, the sales plan was an essential feature
because delegates had to have something tangible to take away from the
event, bearing in mind that they had to make a financial contribution to
From the top down
'The idea is to spread the information through the whole organisation,'
explains Schmid. 'From the top level down to the receptionist, everyone
hears about the needs of the CV customer.'
The event took place at an old colliery and ironworks called the
The German location was a natural choice as most of the delegates were
from Germany, but both GM and HP:ICM liked the venue.
'The key to the event was the interaction with the vehicle so we needed
a big physical space,' says Lloyd-Jones. 'Through research this
extraordinary location came to us. It combines an amazingly industrial
atmosphere but also has a real magical quality about it.'
With the Vivaro being sold around Europe, the event had to cater for a
variety of languages. This meant each event had to be designed for each
European language. The whole launch lasted three weeks, from late March
to early April. As a London agency HP:ICM had to prove its worth by
pitching against six others.
'Dealing with all the different languages was one of the great
challenges for us,' says Lloyd-Jones.
'But we are a pan-European agency and we're very experienced at these
The training side of this launch could have been done in a hotel with a
series of lectures. But combining it with the launch and motivational
activities meant HP:ICM didn't go down a well-trodden path. It became a
live event with the space being creatively used and kept the delegates
But the real key to this alternative event's success will be if
truck-loads of Vivaros are sold throughout Europe.
That was the key issue - to get the delegates to understand the product
so that they can sell it effectively. Only time will tell how effective
this alternative product launch was.