General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet Division is making a splash around the launch of the Chevy Spark.


The vehicle has come on board as the official ride of The Color Run, a nationwide series of 5K runs in which participants are doused with different colors throughout each race.

The Spark represents GM’s first vehicle in the U.S. mini-car category. The company launched the vehicle in July after selling the car under various names in Europe and other international markets.

Other vehicles in the category include Chrysler Group LLC’s Fiat 500, Mercedes-Benz’s Smart Fortwo and Toyota Motor Corp.’s Scion IQ.

GM aligned with The Color Run to promote the Spark to young, tech-savvy urban consumers.  The vehicle carries a starting price of $12,955 and offers features such as a 7-inch touchscreen radio and several smartphone-compatible apps.

“The Spark is fun and has a lot of personality. We call it an urban explorer, which is perfect for city living,” said Cristi Landy, marketing director, Chevy small cars.

GM is playing up three aspects of the Spark in its marketing efforts: The vehicle’s color options, technology and global footprint.  

For example, GM is activating The Color Run with a specially-painted Spark at each kilometer of the 5K. The company displays a Salsa red vehicle at the red color zone and a Denim blue car at the blue color zone.

The Spark also comes in Jalapeno green and Lemonade yellow, among other colors.

“The Spark comes in a nice range of expressive colors, so the vehicle and The Color Run go well together,” said Landy.

GM also displays a multicolor Spark at each event. The automaker sprayed the colors on a white Spark to replicate the look of event participants at the completion of the 5K.  Participants start the event in a white T-shirt.

GM is further activating the tie by capturing photos of participants upon completion of the event and a sweeps dangling a trip to The Color Run in Hawaii. GM is using the programs to capture data for follow-up marketing.

The idea for the sponsorship came up during an open call for a PR agency to help promote the Spark. GM challenged the agencies to come up with ideas, one of which was The Color Run sponsorship.

GM was quickly sold on the idea. “The Color Run started in 2012, and it has already taken off with several sold-out events. We launched the Spark in 18 cities where small cars are popular, and the schedule matched up nicely,” said Landy.

The company also was drawn to the event’s participant base, she added, noting that only a small percentage is over the age of 40.

Weber Shandwick won the editorial strategy business, while Manning, Savage & Lee won the promotions and sponsorship activation component, including The Color Run.

GM kicked off the sponsorship at the Aug. 25-26 Color Run in Brooklyn, N.Y. after testing a partnership the previous month in Ypsilanti, Mich.

“It was different than any other run that I have participated in. People stayed for two hours after the event to dance and enjoy themselves. The race was more like a pre-party for what was going to happen later,” said Landy.

Chevy Spark will sponsor Color Run events in Houston; Miami; Orlando; Portland, Ore.; St. Petersburg, Fla. and Washington, D.C. through the end of the year and will continue the partnership through 2013.

Outside of sponsorship, GM is using digital content to promote the Spark. The company is promoting the vehicle’s global footprint by offering content from around the world on

Music also is playing a role in the Spark’s launch. GM plans to build on a partnership with Viacom International, Inc.’s MTV music television channel by sponsoring content from emerging global artists on