BUICK ROLLS OUT SPOTS FOR ITS FIRST SUV

Pitchman Tiger Woods Stars in Rendezvous Spots

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Buick launches the estimated $35 million ad campaign for its first sport utility vehicle, the Rendezvous, Wednesday on ABC's Good Morning America.

The campaign, from Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson, Troy, Mich., positions Rendezvous as combining the best attributes of a minivan, premium sedan and sport utility vehicle.

Buick pitchman Tiger Woods appears in the two 30-second national TV spots. In the first, airing on Good Morning America in a 60-second version, a tornado sucks up a minivan, sedan and SUV as Billy Preston sings "Will it go round in circles." When the dust settles, the seven occupants of the three vehicles are in the Rendezvous, with Mr. Woods in the driver's seat. In the other, a minivan, sedan and SUV drive into a spooky-looking castle to the strains of Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein." Mr. Woods, behind the wheel of the Rendevous when it emerges from the castle, asks, "What were you expecting? Igor?"

Broad campaign
The spots will run during the ProAm Buick Classic, airing on ESPN and ABC from June 20 through June 24, and the Buick Open in August. The buy includes prime time on broadcast and cable networks on and off until year's end and on nearly 10,000 movie screens from July 10 through Aug. 6. Print arrives in the July issues of magazines. All ads carry Buick's new tagline, "It's all good," which arrived in April and will be used in ads for all the brand's models.

Jack Bowen, brand manager of the Rendezvous, projected sales of between 40,000 and 50,000 units this year, rising to at least 60,000 next year.

The target buyer is between the ages of 35 and 49 and 60% to 65% will be families. Specifically, Buick, a General Motors Corp. division, calls its target consumers "thrivers" because "they're proud they're doing more than their parents ever did and as crazy as life gets," Mr. Bowen explained.

Wooing younger buyers
Buick, whose average owner is 62, has been trying to woo younger consumers while keeping its loyal, aging buyers.

Mr. Bowen said although competitors call their cross-over models SUVs, many are built on car chassis, or platforms, such as Toyota Motor Sales USA's Lexus RX 300, which sits on a Toyota Camry platform.

Rendezvous' pricing starts at $25,499 and tops out at just over $35,000. The vehicle shares the same platform with the Pontiac Aztek, which has been a disappointment for GM.

Buick sales slid by nearly 15% in the first five months of 2001, to 143,632 units, according to Automotive News.

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