Chevy Suburban ad campaign gets Lone Star launch

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Chevrolet is launching ads for the 2000 model Suburban in Texas, the sport-utility vehicle's biggest market. The campaign goes national next year, with different creative.

The General Motors Corp. division expects as much as 27% of all Suburbans sold this year will be in Texas, said Steve Ramsey, the vehicle's brand manager. One out of two Suburban owners in Texas trade in the SUVs for another model, a loyalty rate also seen nationally, he added.

"We are paying tribute to Texans" in the ads, said Mr. Ramsey, a native son.

Chevrolet will spend "considerably more" on advertising the Suburban in 2000 than this year, he said.

The division spent $10 million on the SUV in the first half of 1999 and $19.2 million for all of 1998, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Campbell-Ewald, Warren Mich., developed a dedicated 30-second TV commercial for Texas, as well as a newspaper spread and 12-page magazine insert.

`WE KNOW TEXAS'

The TV spot, which breaks Dec. 14, ties the SUV's 65-year history to various events and places in Texas by decades. For example, a 1936 Suburban is shown with that year's state high-school football title winner.

"We tried to acknowledge we know Texas and we know where Texans are going," said Joe Puhy, exec VP-creative director on the Chevrolet truck account at the agency.

The tagline is "The best Suburban yet." Voice-over reads the "Like a rock" Chevy truck tag at the end of the spot.

Chevy sold 125,918 Suburbans through November, vs. 97,964 a year ago, according to Automotive News. Mr. Ramsey predicted sales would reach about 130,000.

TAKING ON EXCURSION

For decades, the Suburban was the biggest SUV, but now Ford Motor Co.'s new Ford Excursion -- 7 inches longer -- has that title.

Chevrolet General Manager Kurt Ritter said the Suburban is "just the right size and, more importantly, garageable."

Mr. Ramsey said he's not too concerned about the Excursion.

"Women, the primary drivers of Suburbans, tell us the Excursion is just too big," he said.

James Hall, VP at consultancy Auto Pacific, said the larger Ford will keep that brand's owners from defecting to GM. But he said GM will lose Suburban buyers who want the biggest SUV.

GM already has started working on a bigger Suburban, Mr. Hall said.

Until this model year, GM marketed a Chevrolet and a GMC-branded Suburban. But GMC's similar sport utility now will be called the Yukon XL. Yukon is the sibling of Chevy's Tahoe, a smaller SUV.

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