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Automotive marketers introduce new cars throughout the year, but they still rely on the fall season to unveil their splashiest ad efforts. With that in mind, Chevrolet, Toyota and Honda break campaigns this week for their 2000 models.

General Motors Corp.'s Chevrolet division will spend $50 million-plus in an effort to fix its new "We'll be there" tagline in the public consciousness. Chevy's budget includes a $20 million brand campaign and a $35 million to $40 million launch effort for the new Monte Carlo.

The new tagline replaces "Genuine Chevrolet," and will appear in both campaigns as well as subsequent model advertising.


Chevrolet General Manager Kurt Ritter said the division wanted a tagline for its cars that would be as strong as "Like a rock" is for Chevy trucks. "The car side needed a place to call home, like the truck side has had," he said.

Chevy's brand campaign breaks Sept. 21 with three TV spots. "Start Dammit Start" shows a series of clips from horror movies in which terrified victims try to get balky engines to turn over. The spot closes with a screen of type that reads, "If only everything was as dependable as a Chevy."

Brand advertising will break on prime-time network TV as the new season gets under way, with a major buy set for the World Series in October. Cable TV and cinema ads are also scheduled.

Ads for the Monte Carlo break during the Sept. 26 "Saturday Night Live" 25th anniversary special on NBC. A 30-second TV spot called "Twister" features the Tasmanian Devil cartoon character.

Toyota Motor Sales USA's model-year 2000 campaigns break today with eight spots for Corolla, Camry, Sienna and Tundra on network, spot and cable TV.

William Gordon, management director for Toyota agency Saatchi & Saatchi, Los Angeles, said the "Every day" tag has been split into two words and will be preceded by different phrases for each vehicle. For example, "Demolition," a spot for the updated Camry, closes with: "Aiming higher. Every day."

The ads include several celebrity voice-overs, including that of actor Bruce Willis in the "Spectacular" spot for the Tundra truck.

Toyota will unveil a second batch of youth-oriented ads, including those for its new Echo compact, later this month.

Mr. Gordon said Toyota's budget will be "a little bit higher" for the new model year. Toyota spent $500 million on measured media in 1998.

American Honda Motor Co. rolls out 14 TV spots this week.

Larry Postaer, exec VP-creative services for Honda agency Rubin Postaer & Associates, Santa Monica, Calif., said the depth of advertising is unusual.


"We have four car lines -- Accord, Civic, CR-V and Odyssey -- and we are running campaigns essentially three deep for each of them, which is, I think, a little unique in this business," he said.

Aside from three spots for each of those vehicles, Honda will air single spots for its new S2000 sport car and its Passport SUV.

Honda scored a coup for the Odyssey minivan in getting photographer William Wegman, known for his books and "Sesame Street" segments featuring dogs in human roles, which appear in some ads.

Honda's budget will be about the same as last year, when it spent $354 million

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