NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- One of America's Hottest Brands of 2010 used to be a hot brand in 1910.
And for about 80 more years after that.
General Motors Co.'s Buick model was one of the standards of the industry. But as it grew, so did the average age of its owner. For the last two to three decades, Buicks became synonymous with "Grandpa's car," and when GM reorganized following bankruptcy last year, critics were skeptical as to why the automaker was keeping the Buick brand and shuttering Saturn, which was arguably more appealing and more of an import-fighting brand.
But buoyed by Buick's success in China, GM transformed the brand and repositioned it for a different audience. As a result, Buick is the fastest-growing major automotive brand in the U.S., posting its 13th consecutive month of year-over-year retail sales gains in October with a 36% increase. Total Buick sales are up 39% compared to the same period a year ago and 55% year to date.
"It's a 102-year-old brand, and, in many respects, we were successful in targeting a specific demographic," said Craig Bierley, advertising and promotions director for Buick and GMC. "We developed big, quiet, safe rides for America's greatest generation, and we were rewarded with a lot of business. The problem is, we grew complacent with that."
Most car experts and analysts believe GM got it right with the Buick Enclave, Lacrosse and the Regal GS that is causing much buzz and will make its debut at the Los Angeles Car Show next week.
"We want to take this brand to a more contemporary, more progressive place," Mr. Bierley said. "We don't see a lot of other advertisers speaking to this market or this audience. They're trendsetters. That's who we want to be involved in."