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Blitz Blazer Bonanza: New Chevrolet Blazer launches in Quebec


QUEBEC — Some hardcore fixed-wing aviators describe a helicopter as 100,000 parts moving in loose formation. Last week, that thought came to mind many times as we managed the national media launch of Chevrolet’s all-new Blazer crossover vehicle.

That might have had something to do with the first of 12 venues we utilized for the program, the Complexe Capitale Hélicoptère, a high-tech centre for helicopter pilot training on the edge of Quebec City’s Jean-Lesage International Airport.

We were using the Complexe to kick-start the launch we had planned and were implementing. Like every mission, the list of ingredients was long and detailed with plenty of logistical challenges. The devil is in the details and of those, there were plenty.

Start with 14 new Blazers, two Chevrolet Suburbans for support and one Silverado Trail Boss to bring up the rear. Throw in a fleet of static display vehicles showcasing the Chevrolet Family of crossovers, a Traverse, an Equinox and a Trax plus a rented Impala. Season the mix with a 1,100-kilogram, F21 Alto travel trailer for the hitching demonstration inside the helicopter complex.

Sprinkle with five roadies to help execute the mission: Thirty-six journalists from across the country descend on Quebec City to drive a fleet of new Chevrolet Blazer crossovers. The drive would wind through a serpentine, mountainous route east along the north shore of the majestic Saint Lawrence River to Saint-Aimé-des-Lacs, to the picture-perfect, art-infused town of Baie Saint-Paul then back to Quebec City.

Repeat three times.

The introduction of the 2019 Blazer was hosted by a contingent of Chevrolet’s PR, marketing and engineering experts along with an event photographer to capture the goings-on.

Our team would be the lubrication to keep this mobile extravaganza on track and on time while providing the media a real-world experience showcasing the Blazer.

We liken it to pulling off three mobile weddings in four days.

Lisa dealt with accommodations in three different hotels, meals and receptions in four restaurants, a couple of business presentations in the helicopter hanger and a couple more in the state-of-the-art theatre at Hotel and Spa Le Germain Charlevoix in Baie Saint-Paul.

Garry’s job was to take care of the fleet, keeping 21 vehicles clean, fueled and stocked throughout the week. He also managed the drive route and safety briefings to get guests through the 350-kilometre drive we had planned for each group to evaluate the Blazers.

Every drive route should have a variety of road conditions to evaluate suspension and driving characteristics and ours had it all, freeway, winding back roads over rough pavement and sections of hard-packed dirt that would not be too dusty.

We had done a route check the day before it started but, of course, on Day One, Quebec’s road maintenance department decided to grade the dirt sections. A resulting devilish dust storm swirled around the Blazers as they made their way to the charming route break, Domaine le Pic Bois, in rugged cottage country north of Saint-Aimé-des-Lacs.

Don’t those Blazers look great covered in road dirt? The 2019 Chevrolet Blazer is eye-catching whether dirty or clean, though. Its lines and wide stance give it a dramatic look. On the drive route’s twists and turns, the Blazer showed off its dynamic ride and handling.

Chevrolet delivers the Blazer in three distinct personalities, the Blazer, the Blazer RS and the Blazer Premier. The blacked-out wheels and chrome accents on the RS drew many glances from curious people. The Premier, with its bright chrome and dual exhaust chrome tips, is a compelling mix of utility and handsome.

Throw in all-wheel drive, a 2,045-kilogram towing capability and cargo space galore (1,818 litres with second row seats folded), and you get a competent all-season multi-purpose vehicle.

Not to be outdone by a little dirt, other wrenches were thrown into the works. How about the Blazer that didn’t connect with its licence plate in time? Only meant to be driven by our event team, that Blazer needed to get to the hotel presentation room in Baie Saint-Paul. No problem. bolt on a dealer plate to get it there then remove it for the display.

Garry made a mental note to make sure the plate would be reinstalled before driving it back to Quebec on the final day.

Of course, every event has a V.I.P. of some kind, a bride, a diplomat or, in this case, Chevrolet Canada’s director of marketing, Laura Pacey, who flew in to help host the final group of journalists.

Needless to say, after a last-minute vehicle lineup change, Pacey was assigned that very Blazer to drive because, well, even the best-laid plans change.

As she strapped in, Lisa hissed in Garry’s ear, “That’s the one with no plate!”

While Lisa stalled her by offering to input the destination address into the navigation system, Garry dispatched a roadie to crouch down at the back of the Blazer and attach the dealer plate, hoping the HD rear-vision camera was not activated.

In the weeks leading up to the event, Garry’s biggest worry had been that the Traverse would not fit into the presentation room. Even by removing the room’s massive doors and trim and folding in the Traverse’s mirrors, measurements indicated about one-eighth of an inch to play with.

With only a four-hour window to remove the doors, set up the room with the four members of Chevy’s family of people movers, and re-install the doors, timing was everything. Once the doors were taken off, if there was still not enough width, one of the front door skins of the Traverse would have to be removed.

Hey, it all worked. There was enough room to slide a sheet of paper between the outside mirrors and the stripped door sills of the room.

At the presentations, Chevrolet’s marketing team highlighted the Blazer’s infotainment eight-inch diagonal colour touchscreen, encouraged the media to take full advantage of the 4G LTE WiFi hot spot and offered hands-on demonstrations of the Blazer’s new trailering package with Hitch Guidance and Hitch View.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, our roadies advanced the next venues to ensure everything was ready for the media.

By the end of the third wave of guests, we were cautiously optimistic the complex logistics of our plan had worked. As we waited in the Silverado Trail Boss overlooking the line of Blazers outside the final lunch stop, we went over the detailed checklist.

Odometers reset, route books opened to the proper page, bottled water replenished, baggage in the right vehicles, advance team 110 kilometres away at the airport ready for the journalists to hand over the Blazers before flying home.

And then — the phone call. What? Impossible! Nooooo! The flight that would take the Chevrolet team and their guests home was cancelled.

One final devilish detail to contend with.

Follow Garry on Instagram @garrysowerby

Follow Lisa on Instagram @frontlady

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