CADILLAC PLANNING AD INTRO FOR NEW SUV: AUTOMAKER TO SPEND $30 MIL IN '99 PROMOTING ESCALADE LUXURY VEHICLE

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Cadillac plans to spend about $30 million on advertising and marketing in 1999 to promote its new Escalade sport-utility vehicle.

About $20 million will be spent in traditional media via D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Los Angeles. The rest will go to new media such as the Internet.

The division of General Motors Corp. hopes its dealers will kick in an additional $5 million to $10 million.

"This is a brand-new vehicle; it needs advertising," said Jay Spenchian, Escalade's brand manager.

"I've always had a passion for the auto industry," said Mr. Spenchian, who came to Cadillac from Pillsbury Co. (AA, July 6). "But I've always thought it was not marketing-driven but manufacturing-driven."

CADILLAC LUXURY

Mr. Spenchian said Escalade marketing will focus on 35-to-55-year-old consumers. "These are people who know very little about Cadillac, people who are not used to Cadillac luxury," he said.

Advertising will promote the Escalade as a luxury on-road vehicle, while its sister vehicle, the GMC Denali, will be portrayed in its ads as a rugged truck, Mr. Spenchian said.

The Escalade has been criticized for being a Denali clone.

"We're after the luxury-car people," Mr. Spenchian said. "Denali is like heroic power."

Part of the Escalade campaign will focus on third-party endorsements, particularly from young couples, Mr. Spenchian said. A direct-mail campaign will target 800,000 consumers, about half of whom are current Cadillac owners.

OCTOBER DELIVERY

Cadillac expects the Escalade, priced at $45,000 to $48,000, to start arriving in dealer showrooms in October.

Mr. Spenchian said only a small portion of the ad and marketing budget will be spent in 1998, because only about 5,000 of the vehicles are expected to be produced through December. Cadillac hopes to sell about 15,000 Escalades in the 1999 model year.

Ms. Jackson is a staff reporter at Automotive News.

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