New models boost fall auto advertising

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Automakers with new entries for the 2003 model year as well as those just looking to push existing lines will be out this fall spending big.

"There are a lot of brand new nameplates and they require big investments because you've got to start from scratch" to build awareness, said Steve Sturm, VP-marketing, Toyota Motor Sales USA's Toyota Division.

Despite cuts in ad spending last year from major players like General Motors Corp., the auto category was still the nation's biggest spender. According to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR, the industry spent $14.4 billion in measured media in 2001 vs. $15.4 billion the prior year.

"I suspect the extra number of new models helped drive the TV upfronts" this year, said Tom Healey, senior partner at consultancy J.D. Power and Associates.

The sport utility segment has its share of newcomers. Those arriving later this year include: Nissan North America's Nissan Murano, Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America's Outlander, Volvo Cars of North America's XC90, Toyota luxury brand's Lexus GX470 and American Honda Motor Co.'s Element. Porsche Cars North America enters the SUV segment early next year with its Cayenne, which the sports-car maker has advertised in print for several months via Interpublic Group of Cos.' Carmichael Lynch, Minneapolis.

Toyota plans a strong launch for the redone 2003 4Runner SUV this fall, for which Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles, Torrance, Calif., is readying an integrated campaign.

Volvo has already pre-sold half the 6,000 XC90s it will get in the last two months of the year, said Tom Andersson, exec VP-marketing at the Ford Motor Co.-owned brand. That's why Volvo's first SUV will get limited advertising later this year from Havas' Euro MVBMS, New York, but increased advertising next year. Eric Conn, assistant VP-national advertising, Honda, is juggling his brand's new launches. Honda recently launched the all-new Pilot SUV. The Pilot campaign, from independent Rubin Postaer & Associates, Santa Monica, will slow down next month in favor of Honda's major blitz for its next generation Accord. "In launch you need so much weight, you've almost got to rob Peter to pay Paul," Mr. Conn said.

non-traditional media

Honda will use a lot of non-traditional media to launch the Gen Y-targeted Element SUV late this year, including event marketing and Internet ads, as well as first-time buys with several magazine titles.

Ford Motor Co.'s Ford Division has no new major models this fall, and plans to spend heavily in the fourth quarter, spotlighting small-car line Focus, a spokesman said. The work from WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, Detroit, will tout driving dynamics and show the breadth of Focus offerings.

Chrysler Group will be a strong advertiser in the fourth quarter vs. a year ago, said George Murphy, senior VP-global brand marketing. Spending will continue to rise next year due to new model launches like the Chrysler Crossfire coupe. The fall splash includes ads for the 2003 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty pickup and a heavy ad schedule for its new turbo PT Cruiser. Jeep, which has no new models, will tout "the hero positioning of the brand," Mr. Murphy said. Omnicom Group's BBDO Detroit, Troy, Mich., handles.

Other newcomers include 2003-model sports cars: Nissan's 350Z and BMW's Z4 roadster. Cadillac's XLR roadster arrives from the GM brand next spring as a 2004 model. Other cars out this fall are Nissan's Infiniti Division's G35 sports coupe, Volkswagen of America's Beetle convertible and the new generation of Mercedes-Benz USA's E-Class sedan.

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