GM WILL AIM OLDS' ALERO AT HISPANICS AND BLACKS: NEW EFFORT IS BEGINNING OF PUSH FOR MORE ETHNIC BUYERS

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General Motors Corp.'s Oldsmobile division plans to pitch the Alero aggressively to blacks and Hispanics.

"There is a huge potential for the Alero to gain Hispanic and African-American customers who had before never considered buying an Oldsmobile," said Bob Clark, brand manager.

Last year, only 2.3% of Oldsmobile's 304,759 in unit sales were to Hispanics. Oldsmobile marketers think the Alero, with a base price of $16,850, will post sales gains within all targeted demographic and ethnic groups.

The targeted ad campaign for Alero is the first phase of Oldsmobile's plan to increase its share of ethnic buyers by developing minority advertising and marketing campaigns for all of its products.

Hispanics account for 5% of light-vehicle sales, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

"That's $16 billion annually," said Randy Fox, a spokesman for Olds, "and we want a larger slice of that pie."

Mr. Clark said Oldsmobile has created an aggressive Alero marketing campaign aimed at the 31.5 million Hispanics in the U.S. Ads begin running this month in national magazines such as People Espanol.

HISPANIC ADS IN OCTOBER

In October, Alero TV commercials will break on Spanish-language networks such as Univision and Telemundo. The TV spots will be targeted at Hispanic consumers in cities such as Los Angeles and Miami and in states and regions with large Hispanic populations such as Texas and the Southwest.

Oldsmobile changed the tagline for the Hispanic campaign to "Vivelo," which means "Live it," said Dolores Kunda, account director for the Hispanic group at Olds agency Leo Burnett USA, Chicago.

Ms. Kunda said the general-market theme, "Start something," had to be changed because its Spanish translation, "begin," was too bland.

The Alero ads aimed at blacks are being developed by E. Morris Communications, Chicago.

`IT MAKES SENSE'

It makes sense for Oldsmobile to target the Alero at blacks and Hispanics, according to Jim Hall, an auto analyst with consultancy AutoPacific.

"It's a part of the market that Oldsmobile doesn't have much presence in," he said. "So it makes sense showing a new car to a group of people who may be open to something new from a known company."

Mr. Washington is a reporter for Automotive News.

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