GM ENERGIZES EV1 LAUNCH WITH $8 MIL AD BLITZ;FIRST ELECTRIC CAR GOES ON SALE IN FOUR MARKETS WITH SPLASHY INTEGRATED EFFORT

By Published on .

The world's first commercially produced electric car, the EV1 from General Motors Corp., is getting a high-voltage marketing send-off.

An estimated $8 million 12-week launch targets just two California and two Arizona markets, the only places where the car is available. But the low-sales-volume, two-seat coupe is getting the sort of integrated campaign associated with much bigger car brands.

That includes a tie-in with the Dec. 5 Hollywood movie premiere of Sylvester Stallone's "Daylight," and a 90-second TV and in-theater spot produced by Industrial Light & Magic. The commercial, which also will run in :60 and :30 versions, shows dozens of household electrical appliances coming to life, including a quick shot of an unidentifiable appliance that looks and sounds like the R2D2 character from "Star Wars." The appliances rush from inside a house to curbside, clustering around the EV1 when it arrives.

"The electric car is here. EV1 from General Motors," the commercial proclaims.

The campaign aims to position GM as an innovative technical leader; turn the EV1 project into a commercial business and use Saturn's retail system to give EV1 the greatest chance of success, said Mary Ellen Miller, ad manager for GM's Saturn Corp.

"The EV1 strategy challenges expectations and stirs unique new emotions, and the advertising has to do the same thing," Ms. Miller said.

ON THE WEB

The cars will be available via lease for $33,995 at 26 Saturn dealers in Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix and Tucson. Ads will only appear in those markets.

But the vehicle's new Web site (http://www.gmev.com) will have international reach when it hits with 40 pages Dec. 5.

Joe Kennedy, Saturn's VP-sales, service and marketing, declined to discuss ad spending or production or sales estimates for the EVI's first 12 months.

Although the car encompasses three brands-GM, Saturn and EV1-Mr. Kennedy said "it's not smart to inject all three brands into one ad." The campaign is "more of an image and brand builder identifying GM as the parent brand," he added.

Auto consultant Susan Jacobs said it's important GM gets attention with the ads because it can give the carmaker "some kind of halo effect."

EV1 ads can give GM "an image of technological leadership and innovation, which GM isn't generally known for," said Ms. Jacobs, president of Jacobs & Associates.

Being the first with an electric vehicle is key because GM has that stage to itself-at least for now, she added.

A PLUS FOR GM

"Being first is sort of a feather in GM's cap," agreed consultant George Peterson, president of AutoPacific. EV1 will attract consumers who like to be the first with new technology, he said, and also drivers with unique driving patterns due to the vehicle's limited 100-mile range before battery recharging. He doubted GM would produce many more than 1,000 during the first 12 months.

Saturn agen-cy Hal Riney & Partners, San Francisco, created the EVI campaign. It did four b&w print ads to run in local and regional editions of national newspapers such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Copy lists the participating Sat-urn dealers.

Newspapers will have the greatest frequency of any medium, Mr. Kennedy said.

The media buy includes a teaser outdoor ad that went up Nov. 25 and follow-up outdoor coming Dec. 4 for 24 locations in Los Angeles and three in San Diego.

SPOTS MIRROR PRINT ADS

Riney tapped photographer Nadav Kandar for the five magazine ads, which start running Dec. 2 in regional editions of national magazines, including Architectural Digest, Golf Magazine, Gourmet, Newsweek, The New Yorker, SmartMoney and Wired.

Spare and outdoorsy, the spread ads evoke environmental sensibilities with such images as stalks of grain and a winter storm looming large over a small image of the vehicle.

The bulk of the EV1's media buy runs for an intense 12 weeks, dubbed a "launch flare" by Mr. Kennedy. "If you're alive in these markets, you'll see one of these ads."

In this article:
Most Popular