OLDS DEALERS GET INTRIGUE ADS FIRST: TV SPOT FOR NEW BRAND BREAKS REGIONALLY BEFORE NATIONAL PUSH

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Oldsmobile doesn't plan to start the $30 million national launch of advertising for its new Intrigue sedan until July, but TV viewers may start seeing spots as soon as this week in regional markets.

The General Motors Corp. division has taken the unusual move of giving its regional dealer groups a TV spot by national agency Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, to run in their areas, said Kenneth Stewart, Intrigue brand manager.

Dealers who have already received Olds' first shipment of the midsize sedan also may run the spot, which can be tagged at the end.

Intrigue's major national blitz will kick off in movie theaters next month, with national TV spots breaking the last week of July. Burnett tapped Hollywood action-movie director Tony Scott to shoot 30- and 60-second "stories," said Mr. Stewart.

CAR AS HERO

Intrigue is portrayed as a hero in the spots, which include scenes of a car chase and the car racing a train.

"We wanted to associate with things intriguing," he noted.

Print ads will break first in auto-enthusiast books, moving to consumer books in the fall.

The commercial that will run regionally and locally shows a woman with a camera hanging out of a helicopter, tracking the Intrigue. It carries the national campaign's tag "A sophisticated twist on a sports sedan."

Of course, the base price, with certain options, of $21,250 is also shown.

GM decided about a year ago to hold up on new-product ad break dates until its plants built enough inventory to ensure quality. GM dealers often sell new vehicles a month or more before national advertising begins.

`SMARTEST WAY TO LAUNCH'

But "If you have the cars, it makes sense to advertise them," said auto consultant James Hall, VP-industry analysis at AutoPacific. "It might be the smartest way to launch a car. When the national campaign breaks, it will be like getting hit over the head twice."

Mr. Stewart wouldn't predict how many Intrigues Olds will sell this year. But the car "will account for a big chunk of Oldsmobile's business over the next few years," he said.

Mr. Hall predicted 1997 unit sales of 32,000, because Intrigue won't have a full year of production; he expects sales to rise to 90,000 in 1998.

However, if the single plant in Fairfax, Kan., that makes Intrigues goes on strike, he said, "Intrigue will be in trouble with or without advertising."

The United Auto Workers' local there has already voted to strike and is awaiting approval from national UAW leaders.

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