GM to relaunch Astra with pan-Euro campaign

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RUSSELSHEIM, Germany -General Motors Corp.'s European subsidiary Adam Opel is set to break its most pan-European campaign ever to launch the new Astra.

The $2.4 million 60-second ad featuring complex reflections in the car's paintwork will be run on TV in all of General Motors Europe's markets except Germany, where a pumping-heart image will be portrayed.

"This was the first time we went out to tender for a TV campaign, and the first time that GME has gone for a virtually pan-European approach," says Paul Confrey, brand manager-Astra at Vauxhall in the U.K. "This will be the most expensive ad we have used so far--more expensive than the `supermodels' ad for the Corsa in 1993 and the `babies' ad for the Vectra in 1996. "They both cost $1.6 million but did not appear in all markets," Mr. Confrey says. "The advantage now is that the higher cost of the Astra ad will be shared by all participating markets."

GME invited 12 top agencies from the main European markets and from Southeast Asia to present animatics for an ad to support the Astra launch. A submission by London ad agency Rainey Kelly Campbell Rolfe "very easily" won the approval of executives and focus groups in all markets except Germany, Mr. Confrey says. German audiences will see a Saatchi ad which is "entirely different and not suitable for other markets", according to Mr. Confrey.

In the U.K., Vauxhall will spend up to $24 million on TV screen time covering the period of the Astra launch, scheduled for March 27, and will also run its most extensive U.K. roadside poster campaign ever at a further $3.2 million.

In December 1996, GM broke with its tradition and went outside its roster of agencies to pick Rainey Kelly to handle the $60 million relaunch of the Astra in Europe, except for the German market. Traditionally, GM has worked with Lowe Group in the U.K. and Germany and McCann-Erickson Worldwide in the rest of Europe. GM again went outside its roster in January to ask Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide, Frankfurt, to handle the relaunch in the crucial German market. Both Lowe and McCann are owned by the Interpublic Group of Companies.

GME hopes to sell 800,000 Astras a year across Europe, with Germany the biggest market at 200,000 and the U.K. the next most important with up to 110,000, Mr. Confrey says. "We think we have a product that deserves a heavyweight creative launch," he says.

Soundtrack for Rainey Kelly's new Astra spot is an orchestral version of "Bittersweet Symphony," written by Rolling Stones manager Andrew Gold and featured in a top-selling release by The Verve pop group. "It is cool and trendy for a young audience but classically orchestrated to appeal to older customers, so it will span all generations," Confrey says.

Pre-launch activity has also seen another GME first, with 20,000 dealers from every European market attending a single-package presentation in Marrakech, Morocco, over a four-week period. This dealer launch, designed by another London agency, HP:ICM, cost $32 million, and again was the most ambitious and expensive ever mounted by GME.

In the summer, Vauxhall will spend a further $6.4 million on short brand ads at the beginning and end of commercial breaks during TV coverage of the soccer World Cup.

Copyright February 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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