By Jeff Gilbert

DETROIT (WWJ) – General Motors thinks “March Madness” is a great way to launch a new Chevy Malibu.

“We have the opportunity here in March to do a large awareness building campaign that there is an all new Malibu,” said Russ Clark, who’s marketing director for the company’s midsize and performance cars.

Chevy will start running Malibu ads this Sunday in a number of college basketball broadcasts. They will continue with a heavy rotation through the NCAA playoffs.

The 8th generation Malibu is starting to arrive in dealerships. The mild-hybrid “Eco” trim is the first to launch. It will be followed by trims with more traditional engines this summer.

The first round of ads will center around the vehicle’s fuel economy, and unique features including an engine that stops at idle, and brakes that generate energy for the batteries.

The mid-size market is becoming more crowded. Toyota has just launched an all new Camry. A new Ford Fusion launches later this year.

“It’s a horse race,” says Kevin Mayer, director of Chevrolet advertising and sales promotions. “We’re all just trying to stand out from a marketing perspective, to get noticed.”

Mayer says GM is hoping the new Malibu will attract a younger customer.

“This is a customer now who wants to have the durability, quality, but also wants more of an engaged driving experience.”

The average age of the current Malibu owner is 56. GM would like to lower that to 45. They’ve even given a name to the target customer, Style Conscious Achievers.

“These are affluent customers,” said Mayer. “They are intelligent, looking for great value.”


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