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General Motors Corp.'s Buick Century is steering in a slightly different direction for its 1998-model sedan's ad campaign.

The push, with commercials breaking tonight, introduces the tag, "A luxury car for everyone," replacing the year-old "Discover a little luxury in this Century."

Magazine ads arrive in July issues. McCann-Erickson Worldwide, Troy, Mich., is the agency.

This year's campaign touts Century's luxury at an affordable starting price of less than $20,000, and uses more emotional touches than last year's feature-oriented executions.


"We're taking the luxury piece of Century and kind of touching it up," said Anthony Derhake, the car's brand manager.

Buick spent $62.8 million in measured media for Century last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Mr. Derhake declined to discuss this year's Century ad spending.

"We obviously launched strong in '97, and that obviously will come down in '98," he said.

GM has ordered its divisions to trim marketing costs (AA, March 30), but ad spending for vehicles could stay the same if a division decided to trim more on the promotion or event side of marketing.

GM's past practice of "feeding" ad budgets during introductions and then "starving" follow-up budgets for its vehicles is history, Mr. Derhake said.

The redesign on Century has lifted sales. Last year, Buick sold 91,232 of the sedans vs. 72,433 in 1996, according to Automotive News.

Century posted its best April in 11 years last month, with unit sales of 13,171, up 54.9% from April '97.

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