ISUZU BUCKS A TREND BY GIVING DEALERS MORE ADS: BOOSTS SUPPORT TO $25 MIL; LOCAL GROUPS CAN PICK THEIR OWN SHOPS

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American Isuzu Motors is going to buck an auto-industry trend, deciding to allow its regional dealer associations to pick their own ad agencies and develop unrestricted creative.

Usually, national ad agencies for major auto marketers handle regional dealer ads. General Motors Corp., which has had brand guidelines for about 60 shops doing dealer groups, will move all of that business to its national brand agencies on April 1.

24 GROUPS EXPECTED

Isuzu will spend $25 million regionally, and the marketer is encouraging dealers in its key markets to form regional groups. It will double the co-op funds it gives to the groups, which are expected to jump to 24 from the current 11.

In December, Zimmerman & Partners, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., won the Philadelphia-area group's business and is pitching several others.

Isuzu dealer groups spent $13 million in measured media in the first nine months of 1998, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Isuzu dealers like the move.

"The big difference is we control the (ad) content," said John Galeani, a Jacksonville, Fla., dealer and former dealer-council chairman. "I feel I know the northern Florida market better than the national people do."

Dealers in his area are forming a regional group; groups also are being formed in metropolitan New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Tom Cavanagh, executive manager-advertising communications, said the brand also will put more money into spot TV in such key markets as southern California.

Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, which handles Isuzu's national account, has created three new :30s for the beefed-up spot TV effort. SFM Media, New York, handles media.

The marketer's '99-model national ad budget will be slightly less than last year's budget. Mr. Cavanagh declined to reveal spending, but Isuzu spent $116 million on measured media through the first nine months of '98, according to CMR.

REGIONAL SPOTS LINKED TO NAT'L

Mr. Cavanagh said this year's regional ads from Goodby differ from 1998 because they're tied to the national campaign that touts Isuzu's truck-only lineup.

Last year's regional spots from Goodby showed road footage only and promoted a lease deal, he explained.

The regional spot for the Rodeo demonstrates all the equipment that can be loaded into the sport-utility vehicle. Two spots for the Trooper SUV state that "life is too big for cars."

Both spots broke last week.

Isuzu had dealer ad groups until early 1991, when it disbanded them and took

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