EVENTS & PROMOTIONS: OLDSMOBILE RYDER: CARMAKER LINKS TO INT'L GOLFING EVENT TO REACH YOUNGER GROUP

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Oldsmobile swings into its largest integrated advertising and marketing promotion ever on Aug. 1, tied to the prestigious Ryder Cup international golf tournament.

The effort is part of the General Motors Corp. unit's ongoing effort to shed its stodgy image and attract younger consumers who might otherwise be interested in imports.

Themed "Bringing home the Cup," the promotion has two features: a sweepstakes and free commemorative Ryder Cup golf balls for test-driving an Oldsmobile.

CUP PLAYED EVERY 2 YEARS

The Ryder Cup is played every two years, alternated between the U.S. and Europe. The U.S. lost the Cup in 1995 at Oak Hills Golf Course in Rochester, N.Y., its first loss in about a dozen matches. This year, the event will be in Vaderrama, Spain, Sept. 26 to 28.

The entire promotion, including advertising, was handled by Frankel & Co., Chicago.

A heavy direct mail effort is targeting 2 million golf enthusiasts to tempt them into visiting an Olds showroom to get the free golf balls.

The direct mail piece includes a survey to help Oldsmobile refine its marketing efforts.

Separately, TV and print ads tout the Ryder Cup Olds sweepstakes, which includes several cars as prizes. The grand prize is a two-week trip for two to luxury destinations in the U.S. and Europe, including the chance to play on various past Ryder Cup courses.

Golfer demographics "are outstanding for us," said Bob Schaffer, Olds' national merchandising manager. Olds' last major promotional push was two years ago and also tied to the Ryder Cup.

This year's program is Olds' broadest integrated marketing effort ever, Mr. Schaffer added, though he declined to reveal costs.

To give the promotion maximum impact, Frankel has even conducted a training program for dealers to help them engage prospects in conversation without taking a hard-sell approach.

"We're setting up long-term relationships," said Conchita Lockhart, Frankel

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