NEW CORVETTE GETS NET INTRO, TV PUSH LIVE WEBCAST WILL INTRODUCE MAJOR RESTYLING FOR '97

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General Motors Corp.'s Chevrolet division today introduces its 1997 Corvette via a live Internet broadcast from auto shows in Detroit and Los Angeles.

Video of the estimated 1-hour Webcast at 3 p.m. (ET) will be available immediately afterward on Chevy's site (http://www.chevrolet.com).

Chevrolet wants to create some hoopla because the 1997 version of the sports car is only the fifth time the Corvette has seen a major restyling since its debut in 1953.

BACK ON TV AFTER 13 YEARS

Although the sports car has appeared in print ads consistently over the years, it will be advertised on TV for the first time since 1984 when the introductory campaign breaks next month, said Lou Eads, ad manager for Corvette.

Mr. Eads declined to discuss whether the TV portion of the

drive would be national or regional; the still undetermined schedule will depend on time availability.

Print ads will break in March books. Chevy agency Campbell-Ewald, Warren, Mich., handles.

GM's Buick division launched its 1997 Regal sedan via a live Web-cast in early December, one of the biggest cybercasts for a consumer product.

Buick recorded 2,000 hits per second and spent more than $1 million to stage that event (AA, Dec. 9).

Chevy may be spending more, because the Webcast will switch back and forth between the two auto shows and require cameras and crews at both locations.

Mr. Eads declined to discuss costs for Chevy's Webcast.

SAME SUPPLIERS

Chevrolet is using the same key suppliers as Buick: EDS, At Home Corp., CKS/New Media and Silicon Graphics.

Over the past 16 months, Chevy's consumer research showed that owners of Corvettes and competitive vehicles used the Internet daily, said David Scott, account supervisor at C-E Communications, a sister shop of Campbell-Ewald.

"It became obvious that the Corvette is a high-technology car and the

Web is a high-technology medium that's perfect," Mr. Scott said.

Chevy promoted the event by directing cybersurfers to its site via links

with other sites, including GM's corporate site and that of publisher

Hachette Filipacchi, which has a deal that lets the automaker use the publisher's Web site for marketing. Working with GM's Cyberworks unit, subscribers to GM's BackWeb computer channel, which lets GM deliver customized information requested by users, were sent event information.

SLIPPING SALES

Corvette sales have been slipping. In '94, Chevy sold 21,839 vs. 19,966 in 1995; it sold 17,379 through November 1996.

Chevy is not the only marketer to use the Web aggressively for marketing.

Nissan Motor Co. of Japan said it will start to sell cars via the Net this summer. The carmaker reportedly expects to be able to sell the cars cheaper on the Web by trimming its ad budget.

Nissan Motor Corp. USA said the carmaker's Internet move is only in Japan and there are no plans to sell cars that way in this country.

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