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General Motors Corp.'s Buick division expects to launch a $20 million umbrella brand campaign this week on national TV, its first such effort in about two years.

Since the carmaker switched to brand management in early 1995, its vehicle divisions largely have focused on developing and advertising distinct brand images for every car and truck.

Karen Ebben, marketing services manager at Buick, said that the division and agency McCann-Erickson Worldwide, Troy, Mich., last week were trying to wrap up production, finalize media schedules and round up approvals of GM executives, several whom were out of town because GM was closed.

The spending is an addition to Buick's estimated 1998 ad budget of $200 million.


Buick has been targeting younger prospects, but so have other GM divisions and other carmakers. The new brand push is aimed at consumers in their late 40s and early 50s.

McCann is creating a trio of 30-second spots and a 60-second commercial that will air through 1998 on network, cable and spot TV. In certain cases, a Buick brand spot will air back-to-back or in the same show as a Buick product commercial.

No decision has been made on possible print executions.

The effort will complement, not replace, individual product ads, Ms. Ebben said.

"Each of our [vehicle] brands is very different and that will continue. We are not changing our spots here," she said.

Each brand spot ends with the new tag, "Isn't it time for a real car?" The division's last branding campaign carried the tag, "The new symbol of quality in America."

"What Buick really is and always has been about is premium cars," Ms. Ebben said. "Buick means real car power, real car comfort and real car style."

Through November 1997, Buick sales were flat, slipping slightly to 397,871 from 399,627 for the same period in 1996, according to Automotive News.

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