GMC's NEW SUV STORMS TIMES SQUARE

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March 26, 2001

By Jean Halliday

GMC's campaign for its new Envoy SUV will kick off April 1 with a Times Square multimedia blitz.

The 2002-model Envoy sport utility from the General Motors Corp. "professional grade" truck brand will dominate the inside and outside of the Forest City Ratner

Interior Envoy banner.
building on 42nd Street between 7th and 8th avenues in New York City.

For two months, starting April 1, the actual SUV will sit atop the building's marquee, which will also carry five "plasma" screens. Inside, another Envoy will be parked in a sitting area, huge banners will hang from the ceiling and large floor artwork will pave the way to the second level. The graphics show off the inside and outside of the SUV.

The estimated 2.2 million people who pass the building daily and those who wander inside to the Starbucks, AMC multi-screen movie theater, new wax museum or other shops "are not going to be able to escape us," said Mark-Hans Richer, advertising director at GMC. "There's an immense

amount of traffic outside the building, and we think this will help the product really come alive."

11 mall sites signed
GMC is also beefing up its mall tour sponsorship this year with Home & Gardens magazine. So far, 11 mall sites have been signed up out of an expected 20, and the with the first stop of the tour taking place in June. The new Envoy has also been added to the brand's sponsorship of nearly 30 home-and-garden shows this year.

Interpublic Group of Cos.' Lowe Lintas & Partners, New York, proposed the Times Square deal with TDI, New York, to GMC. The locale is frequented by both locals and tourists and will provide "maximum exposure" for Envoy, said Susan Cantor, executive vice president-managing director of the account at Lowe.

The promotion is part of the SUV's

Interior of a Times Square building goes totally Envoy.
estimated $15 million launch. Lowe also created a pair of new TV commercials, three print ads and several outdoor ads. The national TV buy starts April 16, with magazine ads arriving about the same time. The creative uses actual GMC engineers, who started appearing in all ads last fall. The tag remains "We are professional grade."

'Eats potholes'
Mr. Richer said the completely redone Envoy is bigger, smoother and more powerful than its predecessor, which he dubbed "an upscale Jimmy." The Jimmy model is going away. Envoy's improved suspension "practically eats potholes," he said.

He predicted GMC will sell as many as 60,000 Envoys this year, with annual sales rising in subsequent years.

The 2002 model debuted last September in a teaser commercial

Even the rugs in the Forest City Ratner lobby celebrate the Envoy.
from Lowe during NBC's Olympic broadcasts that didn't identity GMC. The spot challenged viewers to guess which brand marketed the "Mystery SUV" by entering a sweepstakes to win the vehicle.

Viewers during that promotion most often confused Envoy for the Lexus RX300, said Talbot Logan, senior vice president-account director at Lowe. He said other consumers also confused it with European imports.

Envoy price: $29,420+
The Envoy's price starts at $29,420. The SUV's GM siblings are the Oldsmobile Bravada and Chevrolet TrailBlazer.

GMC sales slid in the first two months of 2001 to 73,655 trucks from 84,343 a year ago, according to Automotive News. In calendar 2000, the brand sold 507,018 trucks vs. 521,294 in 1999.

Susan Jacobs, president of consultancy firm Jacobs & Associates, said she's not sure there's room for a lot of growth in the upscale, mid-size SUV segment.

Wes Brown, an analyst at consultancy Nextrend, predicted the new Envoy will sell better than its predecessor, but he doesn't expect it to attract non-GM buyers. The buyers will come from another GM brand car or truck.

Copyright March 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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