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Buick wants more baby boomer buyers and women for its large, niche Riviera coupe, so the brand is breaking away from the carmaker's family-oriented image.

"There's a potential to get people in a lifestyle change, moving from a minivan or a midsize sedan," said Michael Wright, Riviera brand manager.


The TV portion of Riviera's campaign breaks today on national cable networks. The tagline, "You're due. You're definitely due," reflects brand research showing the target is "responsible, productive folks who are ready to reward themselves," Mr. Wright said.

The Troy, Mich., office of McCann-Erickson Worldwide created three spots that poke subtle fun at the practical nature of the target audience, referred to in Riviera advertising as "Mr. and Mrs. Responsibility."

Because the car is targeted at people with older children, the commercials take a gentle jab at other, more family-oriented vehicles. One says, "It's bigger than a minivan but only seats four. It's not a perfect family car. That's the point."

The spots broke March 7 on the Web's http://www.realaudio. com site, which Mr. Wright dubbed an auto industry first.

The campaign includes spot TV buys, probably in 13 markets, and just a splash of national network, Mr. Wright said.

Buick is cutting Riviera's network TV spending, budgeting an overall estimated $20 million for the car this year, slightly less than in 1996.

Buick hopes to sell 22,000 Rivieras in 1997. It sold 20,641 last year, down 11.6% from '95. The car's best sales year was 1978, when just more than 50,000 were sold.

Riviera wants its percentage of women buyers to reach 50% this year from the current 42%. Also, along with targeting baby boomers who have older children, Buick wants younger buyers than in the past; the average age of a current Riviera owner is 52.


A likely tie-in for Riviera would be with Richard Tyler, one of five fashion designers who redid special GM vehicles auctioned earlier this year to raise money for breast cancer research. GM built two duplicates of Mr. Tyler's Riviera to use for promotions, and the cars may show up at his trunk shows.

On the print side, Riviera will run ads in April newsweeklies and May monthlies. Earlier this year, Riviera ran a four-page insert in four Conde Nast Publications books skewed heavily to women: Bon Appetit, Conde Nast House & Garden, Conde Nast Traveler and Gourmet. The insert, dubbed "Ladies of Note," touted Riviera's title sponsorship of a five-city concert tour starring Roberta

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