The effort is the first for GM from Mullen, Wenham, Mass., on an account that will total $24 million in 1998, its first full year.
"We're trying to create a brand here," said Phil Guarascio, VP-marketing and advertising at GM's North American Operations.
LOCAL DEALER TAGS
Mullen has developed two TV spots, four magazine ads and a national newspaper ad. Dealers have the option of tagging TV spots, and six newspaper ads have been created for local use.
Mullen handled national media planning, while GM MediaWorks is placing the national schedule. The campaign runs through mid-November and will return early next year.
"We were looking for some emotional turf where we could create a brand and make this connection with consumers," said Joe Grimaldi, chief operating officer of Mullen.
A headline in the national newspaper ad, breaking in USA Today July 17, reads: "We now introduce a vehicle that runs on trust." The campaign carries the tagline "Ready for life," reflecting the real-life situations that are central to the creative approach.
One TV commercial features children revealing their needs for love and encouragement; they also need "rides."
Magazine ads have little copy and show items inside the outlines of a car, minivan and sport-utility vehicle. One shows a minivan outline with a crayon, juice box and other children's toys inside.
GM's campaign differs from used-car superstore competitors, such as Circuit City Stores' CarMax and Republic Industries' AutoNation USA, whose ads focus on how they are changing the used-car buying process.
"If I were launching a program, I'd probably do the same thing," said Roy Pikus, director of GM's CUV program.
A record 3.5 million vehicles will come off lease this year, J.D. Power & Associates projects, up from some 3 million in 1996. Loretta Seymour, director of auto sales research at J.D. Power, said more consumers are cross-shopping, looking at both new and used cars. The used-car superstores aren't the real impetus pushing GM and other carmakers' to start used-car programs, she said. Since last fall, AutoNation's new-car business has grown more rapidly than used cars, and automakers are looking to change the way their dealers do business in order to compete.
"After the sale, after three or four years of owning the car, [consumers] want to know who will deliver the best ownership experience," said Mr. Pikus.
GM has an edge in that area, Mr. Guarascio said, because it has a lot of dealer outlets and a long track record.
But of GM's roughly 7,000 dealers, only 500 have agreed to participate in the