Chevrolet’s advertising director, Dannielle Hudler, decided to retire the “Today’s Chevrolet” marketing theme to push a bigger marketing campaign. The result of hours of think tanking with the mad men advertising agents led to one of the more successful campaigns that ran the market from 1985 through 1993. The Heartbeat of America ad campaign was the first to feature a bowtie logo with embedded text when it first appeared in 1985.
The campaign was so popular that the Chevrolet dealers wanted to continue with the program after GM had decided to move on to another ad campaign in 1994. GM had already decided to move on with a new slogan that was set to be announced in the spring when the new midsize Lumina sedans and Monte Carlo coupes were introduced. Chevrolet dealers tried to continue with the older program when GM finally told the dealers that the Heartbeat of America campaign was over and that the dealers were not allowed to use the campaign any longer. Fortunately the next campaign for Chevy trucks was even more popular and helped put the Heartbeat campaign to bed.
The Campaign scored very high on recall and likability. It’s hard to know how well the advertising did for the sales of new cars but items with “Heartbeat of America” can still be purchased online and bring a pretty penny on eBay. If this is any measuring stick to meaningfulness, then the American public felt that Chevrolet was the Heartbeat of America. It can be argued that things have changed in the past two decades and a campaign like this would be too politically incorrect now, but for that time… it was perfect and resonated with the car buying public.