Why Stupid Special Editions Are Actually Pretty Brilliant

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Chevy has already crapped out so many Special Edition 2015 Colorado and Silverado pickup trucks it's getting ridiculous, and according to their marketing folks "that's a trend that's going to continue." Other automakers are almost as guilty. I'm starting to think... they may be on to something.

Easy headlines

When I worked in the sterilized hell of a suburban office park, the talking Banana Republic shirts I answered to were fond of many douchey catchphrases and "low-hanging fruit" was a favorite. Corporate Confucius say "The low-hanging fruit is easy to grab." Get it?!?


Where was I going with this... right; when the extent of your special edition is a selection of pre-existing options plus Plasti-Dipped badges, you can churn out a new one out every week. That means you can pair it with a press release and websites will dutifully regurgitate it for the masses. It'slow-hanging fruit, or more specifically "cheap advertising."

Put another way; there's really no reason not to keep coming up with special editions. Only enthusiasts will get mad about it, or even notice. And who cares what those nerds think!?


A big push on accessories

The 2015 Chevy Colorado is available with a whole suite of OEM cargo racks, bars, and tie-downs called "GearOn." The stuff's actually pretty nice. But roof racks are forgettable to the average consumer and the educated ones will want to comparison shop against the aftermarket. So how does Chevy make people care about their factory-option cargo accessories?


Putting them on vehicles at dealerships is a good start, pairing them with a cool ad campaign is better, and a slick name like Trail Boss caps it all off nicely.

Automatic upselling

We love to Build & Price online, but a lot of cars get sold as they stand off a dealer's lot... see previous point. Special editions make it a lot easier for dealers to sell you more options by bundling them into packages.


They could (and probably have) also used this method to get rid of things that didn't sell well. Got a bunch of uninstalled trailer hitch receivers lying around the factory? Pair them with power mirrors and you've got yourself a Tow Master Edition! Again, a sexy name probably helps more.

Consumer mind-probes

We've all heard PR reps say a concept car is only there "to gauge consumer interest," but I guess special editions do give a car company some insight on what people want out of their vehicles. Like, when the Midnight Edition Silverado is a runaway success Chevy will know they can cut it out with the other colors already.


Marketing flexibility

Special editions give automakers an opportunity to reinvent a model's marketing scheme for a specific niche or demographics, at least in a small way. Dealers sometimes do the same thing on a smaller scale for their region... with mixed results.


I've been picking on Chevy because they've really bent the throttle on special editions in the last few months, but this is not a new phenomenon. I might even go so far as to say this extends beyond cars; special edition DVDs, blenders, and watches don't seem any different but I'm not qualified to comment on things without wheels.


At this point I'm just curious about how far GM will go... as in; "how minute of a change will they pass of as an edition?" The Colorado and Silverado are both nice trucks I've been impressed with this year, but I hope Chevrolet stays focused on actually developing them rather than repacking them in new colors.