EVENTS & PROMOTIONS: BUICK'S BLOCKBUSTER: CENTURY SEDAN TRIES TO REACH YOUNGER CROWD VIA VIDEO CHAIN

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Buick kicks off its first major joint promotion with Blockbuster Video next week in an unusual yearlong partnership.

Buick wants to reach Blockbuster's typically young, family-oriented audience with incentives to test-drive its 1997 Century sedan. For Blockbuster, the "Century Summer Sweepstakes" is its largest promotion of the season and is aimed at driving repeat visits to its rental stores.

The promotion launches May 28 with prominent point-of-purchase displays luring Blockbuster customers to visit a Buick showroom to test-drive a Century sedan.

Those who do will receive Blockbuster's Value Card, good for 10 free movie rentals. The promotion is also touted inside Buick dealerships with extensive POP materials.

GIVING AWAY 20 CARS

After getting the 10th free rental with the Value Card, each promotion participant is eligible to enter Blockbuster's random-drawing sweepstakes to win one of 20 Century sedans. The promotion runs through June 23, with winners drawn the week of July 14.

Momentum IMC, Troy, Mich.-a unit of Buick national agency McCann-Erickson Worldwide-conceived the promotion.

The new Century is Buick's first major redesign of the car in 15 years. The General Motors Corp. division is pouring $50 million into promotional efforts this year to convert younger drivers to the Century. Previously, the average age of Century buyers was 68, said Mark Karney, assistant brand manager of Century.

Also as part of the Blockbuster effort, five McCann-created Century spots will air on monitors inside the video rental stores.

Both marketers are preparing direct mailings, said Lisa Adams, director of partnership marketing at Blockbuster.

Cadmus, Charlotte, N.C., is handling Blockbuster's direct marketing efforts; Bernstein-Rein, Kansas City, Mo., another Blockbuster shop, is preparing a national spot TV ad airing in June.

Buick's in-house staff prepared its direct mailing.

Buick is encouraging its regional dealer ad groups to advertise the test-drive sweepstakes in their markets, Mr. Karney said.

The effort mirrors GM's move toward more "brand-focused" sales promotions, said

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