CELL-PHONE ELEMENT GIVES BOOST TO GMAC RADIO EFFORT

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General Motors Acceptance Corp. has expanded a cell-phone-based direct response program after successful results in its initial efforts.

By linking cell phone technology to its "SmartLease" radio campaign, the consumer finance division of General Motors Corp. was able to generate prequalified leads at more than double the usual rate of such a radio expenditure, said Chicago-based Cellular Linking.

Late last year, the ad effort spread to Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis, and midyear expanded to outdoor advertising as well.

Cellular Linking developed a three-digit cellular direct response phone number for GMAC and originally tested it in Miami, collaborating with Campbell-Ewald and its C-E Communications unit, Warren, Mich. Information on the phone number was incorporated into GMAC's 60-second radio commercials created by Campbell-Ewald.

"We're always looking for technologies or media that will help us to get closer to the customer on the customer's terms," said Jeffrey Scott, exec VP-managing director at Campbell-Ewald.

Consumers respond by cell phone to the commercials. The three-digit code provides a toll-free, airtime-free connection to reach GMAC's inbound call center.

GMAC is tapping into a very desirable demographic with the cell phone response channel.

"The quality of the response is significantly higher than you would see in a traditional 1-800 `land line' response channel," said Barry Zoob, president of 3-year-old Cellular Linking. "The demographics of the wireless audience are far superior to the general population."

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