SATURN THINKS YOUNGER TO SELL S SERIES: WITH ADDITION OF L SERIES, CARMAKER SEGMENTS BUYERS

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General Motors Corp.'s Saturn subsidiary joins the auto industry's youth movement as it begins to segment its buyers for the first time.

Ads for its S Series skew younger in an effort to bring down the average age of buyers of the smaller Saturns, said Lisa Hutchinson, director of marketing.

Saturn's June launch of the larger L Series offered the chance to move older buyers to the more-expensive vehicles. And that should change the demographics for the S Series, which currently has an average buyer age of 43.

ONLY S SERIES PREVIOUSLY

In the past, with S Series as its only vehicles, Saturn had to market it to "the three cohorts -- pre-boomers, boomers and post-boomers," said Ms. Hutchinson.

"This gives us an opportunity to more directly target young buyers," she noted. "We would expect to see the average age move to under 40, maybe 38, over time."

With the earlier L and current S introductions, Saturn's spending will increase 40% this year, she said. The unit spent $210 million last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting; that would put 1999 spending near $290 million.

The new S Series campaign features print ads and seven TV spots, including 60-second spots, from Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco. Most feature younger actors, as in "Corner Office," a :30 in which a twentysomething woman describes using her Saturn in her work as a film production assistant.

The S Series launch will emphasize Web marketing, spending that will continue into 2000 when Saturn's online budget will double.

Most of that will go to S Series, Ms. Hutchinson said.

"We're moving away from banner ads, as is the rest of the industry, to more site sponsorship and integrated content," she added.

Saturn also will bump its Hispanic marketing up 60% in 2000, focusing media buys

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