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As the second and final weekend of SXSW approaches, we caught up with Chris Perry, Chevrolet’s VP Global Marketing, to understand why sponsoring the music, film and interactive festival in Austin is so important to the automotive manufacturer and how they increased their commitment to give back further this year.

According to Perry, being an actively involved sponsor at SXSW has helped his team learn more about what the newest generation of car buyers really wants so that they can deliver even more content and functionality for them in the future. “We’ve learned a lot over our three year engagement and it’s all about relationship building. We are there to listen and engage.”

Brandon Gutman: You mention how your involvement at SXSW is the perfect example of how Chevrolet is both committed to relationship building and investing in digital. Please elaborate.

Chris Perry: We have Chevrolet employees on the ground – from product, marketing and engineering – engaging with SXSW attendees and discussing what matters to them. You can catch a ride in a Chevy Cruze for free – we’re not asking you to fill out contact information – we just want to make your life easier. And if through that experience you like the car – you can find us on Twitter or Facebook or go to the dealer and engage with us on your own terms. We also have two youth concepts which were co-created by Chevrolet Design and more than 9,000 millennials. We are asking for more opinions to not only understand what next-gen buyers want, but to build relationships and trust with this important demographic.

Chris Perry from Chevrolet

Tell us about the Road Trip to Austin initiative. What made you choose Kelly Olexa as team captain?

The road trip to Austin was an opportunity to engage with influencers across the country and provide them an opportunity to experience SXSW as well as our products in a very natural way. Our regional team in Chicago has been cultivating a relationship with Kelly Olexa for some time now because Kelly and her team at FitFluential is a perfect fit for Chevrolet.

We asked Kelly Olexa how her FitFluential network of bloggers are promoting the initiative?

Kelly Olexa: We’ve already set the wheels in motion (no bad pun intended) by encouraging our FitFluential Ambassadors to Adopt-A-Classroom with us. Many of them have been teachers and were very excited to help others out– with this group alone in a week’s time we were able to raise almost $1000.00 for two schools. Our next step is to share pictures and videos from our school visits on the FitFluential blog and in our newsletter which reaches our more than 3000 members — who collectively publish to an audience of over 60 million visitors monthly. We plan to continue sharing the word about this school and others in the Adopt-A-Classroom program, so we can assist schools in providing a quality education to such deserving kids across the country.

Kelly Olexa from FitFluential

We requested Chris Perry’s most powerful advice to fellow brand marketers looking to involve their brand more meaningfully at SXSW. His response was: Be genuine. Go to SXSW with the purview of adding value to participants, not just getting leads. SXSW is so unique – it’s a great opportunity to meet innovators from social media, music and film. The relationships you build here at SXSW last well beyond the first tweet.

Follow Brandon on Twitter at http://twitter.com/brandongutman

Find more of my content about brand leaders at http://brand-innovators.com

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by Brandon Gutman
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Brandon is an expert connector and seasoned business development professional. As Principal of Brand Approved, he's led the advisory to become the bridge between brand marketers and best of breed service providers that are reshaping the industry.

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