General Motors Corp.'s Chevrolet Motor Division signed Greg Norman to a three-year deal to pitch its sport-utility vehicles. Mr. Norman will be featured in select TV spots touting the Chevy Suburban, Tahoe and Blazer, as well as print and promotional activities.
Chevy hopes that with the help of Mr. Norman, it can attract upscale consumers. The carmaker wants to capitalize on the trend of sport-utility vehicles taking the place of luxury cars among younger, affluent buyers.
"Many competitors are entering into the [luxury sport-utility vehicle] marketplace," said Mac Whisner, Chevy truck advertising manager. "We are putting our stake into the ground early."
Besides rivals like Jeep, Ford and Land Rover, luxury carmakers are shifting into the luxury sport-utility segment. Mercedes-Benz of North America and Nissan Motor Corp. USA's Infiniti line plan to enter the field within the next one to two years.
Chevrolet is joining other GM divisions, like Cadillac, Buick and Oldsmobile, that are heavily involved in golf. But Chevy doesn't believe it's taking anything away from those sister divisions.
"If people are going to make a switch from luxury cars to sport-utility vehicle, we want to make sure we keep them in the GM family," Mr. Whisner said. "Most of our business right now seems to be coming from the upscale import automobiles."
Mr. Norman, nicknamed "The Great White Shark," is one of the most prominent players on the PGA Tour. The Australian-born golfer only endorses products that he uses, like his own line of Reebok sportswear.
As the owner of two Chevrolet Suburbans, he approached the car company about an endorsement deal about 10 months ago. Chevy researched its consumers and found Mr. Norman a strong fit because he exemplified "independence, self-reliance and strength," Mr. Whisner said.
"Greg is not going to wear the logo" like most sponsored golfers do, Mr. Whisner said. "It is going to be a partnership where he is going to be doing lots of other types of marketing."
There might even be the possibility of a special product in the future. "Who knows, we might even offer a `Shark' edition sport-utility vehicle in the near future," said Jeff Hurlbert, Chevy's general marketing manager.
A 30-second spot from Lintas Campbell-Ewald, Warren, Mich., featuring Mr. Norman will break May 8, running on network and cable in sports and late night programming. Print will start in July issues of business and golf publications.