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North American President Speaks Spanish in Latest Ads

By Published on .

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- General Motors Corp.'s North American president speaks Spanish in a new corporate TV spot
Emphasizing the carmaker's Hispanic sensitivities, GM president Gary L. Cowger addresses the audience in Spanish.
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breaking nationally this weekend on Spanish-language networks Univision and Telemundo in a strong bid to reach Hispanic consumers.

Gary Cowger, who is GM's group vice president and North American president, was president of GM de Mexico and lived in the country from 1994 to 1998. The executions were his idea, said Sonia Green, executive director of Hispanic marketing at the automaker. "He truly understands the [Hispanic] culture," she said.

Doubling spending
The monthlong, TV-only flight, which breaks April 19, is part of GM's efforts to double the $51 million it spent last year in the Hispanic market.

While auto executives taking to the airwaves to hawk their car brands is not new -- just last year Ford Motor Co. CEO Bill Ford appeared in four 60-second brand spots for Ford Division -- this is the first time a top car executive has appeared in ads specifically geared to Univision and Telemundo. Ad spending on Spanish-language TV increased 20.4% in 2002, compared to network TV, which rose 7.4%

Interpublic Group of Cos.' Accentmarketing, Coral Gables, Fla., handles all of GM's Hispanic advertising.

Increase market share
GM wants to increase its Hispanic market share this year by 2.7 percentage points, Ms. Green said, declining to reveal its current standing. Until last year, the auto giant had lost share in the segment, she added. In a report earlier this year by consultancy J.D. Power and Associates, Hispanics said they prefer imported car models to domestic ones.

In addition to courting the Hispanic market, GM is also trying to get the word out on its improved quality. According to J.D. Powers, GM ranked highest in quality among domestic carmakers in a 2002 initial quality survey of some 65,000 car buyers.

Jim Sanfilippo, executive vice president of Omnicom Group's auto consultancy AMCI, said using Mr. Cowger in a commercial "makes perfect sense," and Mr. Sanfilippo said he expects it to be "highly appreciated by the Hispanic community."

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