GM Flaunts Fuel Efficiency in New Terrain TV Campaign

GMC Brand Part of Automaker's 'May the Best Car Win' Effort That Challenges Competition

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) --You can buy a crossover SUV, or you can buy a Mini Cooper -- they have the same fuel-efficiency mileage.

The 2010 GMC Terrain is EPA-rated at a segment-leading 32 miles to the gallon on the highway.
The 2010 GMC Terrain is EPA-rated at a segment-leading 32 miles to the gallon on the highway. Credit: General Motors Co.
That's the message General Motors Co. is sending in a TV campaign for the 2010 GMC Terrain that's part of the automaker's "May the Best Car Win" push. The four-cylinder model, which has a direct-injected Ecotec engine and six-speed automatic transmission, is EPA-rated at a segment-leading 32 miles to the gallon on the highway. That beats Honda's CR-V's highway rating of 27 miles to the gallon; Ford Escape's 28 and the Ford Escape Hybrid's 31. It also matches that of BMW's Mini Cooper, which it's being compared against in the ad from GM's corporate shop, McCann Erickson, Birmingham, Mich.

Susan Docherty, VP and chief of Buick-GMC, said Terrain's top attributes for a buyer are its fuel economy and standard rear-viewing camera, along with great exterior design. Ms. Docherty will host live Terrain chats with the public Sept. 28 at 1 p.m. and Oct. 1 at 8 p.m. E.T. on gmc.com. "The really great part is that with our offering on content, power-train, miles per gallon and price, we lead over the competitors in many areas," she said. "Our ads will take the gloves off."

The Terrain, which starts at $24,995, succeeds GMC's bigger Envoy in the lineup. Though the model is being featured in the corporate "May the Best Car Win" ads, Terrain's main launch push is from Leo Burnett, Troy, Mich. While the Burnett ads keep the brand's "We Are Professional Grade" slogan, the theme is "more ideas per square inch, because more is what we do," Ms. Docherty said.

Burnett was already at work on the ads in July, when GM appointed Vice Chairman Bob Lutz as its marketing czar. "It has been great to have Bob as part of the team as we moved through the development phases on the creative, and he has given us some great feedback and is very supportive of the creative product," Ms. Docherty said.

Mr. Lutz wasn't so supportive of the first round of Buick launch ads for the second-generation LaCrosse sedan shortly after his new appointment this summer. He publicly criticized the work from Topolewski, Ferndale, Mich., directed by Ms. Docherty, who oversees half of GM's remaining four core vehicle brands.

Ms. Docherty is hoping to woo Toyota and Honda owners to the Terrain, aimed at a broad 30- to 55-year-old buyer with active lifestyles and an even male-female split. Ms. Docherty said Terrain's closest GM relative, Chevrolet's Equinox, skews more to female buyers, with a 65/35 split.

Stephanie Brinley, a senior manager of consultant AutoPacific, gives high scores to the Terrain, which she has already test-driven. "The product is competitive and can conquest buyers on the fence who are thinking about buying a Toyota RAV4 or Honda CRV," she said. However, Terrain won't win over loyalists of those two Asian brands, Ms. Brinley said. "What GMC is fighting is the image that GM has -- and not just for the last six months, but for decades," she said, referring to the parent company's loans from the federal government and its quick trip through bankruptcy court this summer.

The automaker backed GMC with $202 million in U.S. measured media last year, a 22% drop from the previous year, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

GMC's new-vehicle sales for the first eight months of 2009 slid by nearly 38% to 158,572 units vs. the same period a year ago, according to Automotive News.

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