GMC PUTS ENVOY IN ENVOY TO DRAW DRIVERS TO NEW SUV

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GMC used an eight-part direct mail program, spinning a tale of two brothers, to build awareness and drive traffic to showrooms for Envoy, a sport-utility vehicle that debuted this spring.

By weaving a story about two fictional siblings -- Steven Bank, director of GMC Envoy development, and his brother, Andrew M. Bank, a U.S. envoy who was chosen, because of his familial connections (and his job title), to test-drive the new vehicle around Europe -- the company was able to introduce Envoy in a way that engaged prospective buyers in an adventurous tale unfolding with each subsequent mailing. The series tracks Andrew's travels and exploits, including letters mailed from Greece and the Netherlands.

SEVEN-MONTH EFFORT

The mailings, via McCann Relationship Marketing, New York, began last November and stretched over seven months, to the launch.

"It was a conscious decision to . . . create an emotional link to the product rather than feature the product itself," said Gary Forrer, relationship marketing manager at General Motors Corp.'s Pontiac-GMC. "That's the first time we ever did something like that. It's treating customers one at a time rather than treating consumers as mass media."

190,000 RECIPIENTS

The strategic services people at McCann came up with a list of 190,000 potential customers, consisting of current GMC Jimmy owners, other current GMC owners, current luxury car owners and current sport-utility competitive model owners. The first mailing generated a 12% response rate.

The mailings appear to have done the job of getting people to come in and take a look at the new vehicle.

"There's a whole ownership experience that goes along with purchasing a Pontiac or a GMC, and any Envoy purchaser would participate in that," Mr. Forrer said. "The mailing began the link to those customers. It boosted showroom traffic and got the vehicle off to a good start."

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