Community events key for automakers

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Automakers are revving up their multicultural marketing efforts, and advertising is just one part of the push.

"The main point for any multicultural marketing is to have an integrated approach," said Mary Williams, ethnic marketing manager at the Lincoln Mercury Co. unit of Ford Motor Co. "It's about reaching the market and then taking the vehicles to the market via events."

These events include Lincoln Mercury's sponsorship of the Latin Business Expo in California and the National Black MBA luncheon.

DaimlerChrysler connects with Hispanic consumers through a national art contest in which participants submit original creations that incorporate a Jeep vehicle with the Hispanic lifestyle.

"It's not just about advertising to them, but it's actually getting out there in the community," said Charles Hudson, director of diversity marketing and special projects at DaimlerChrysler.


At the same time, marketers are investing more in targeted approaches via traditional media, where copy and visuals must carry the message across cultural lines.

For example, General Motor Corp.'s Buick division on Nov. 8 broke a Spanish-language TV campaign for Century on Univision and Telemundo. A Spanish translation of the general-market tagline is used, "Un auto de lujo para todos" which means "A luxury car for everyone." The commercials, by Vidal, Reynolds & Maya, New York, were shot in Mexico City. To support it, Buick created a Hispanic Web site (

Lincoln Mercury will launch Hispanic TV spots for Sable on Nov. 22 via UniWorld Group, New York, and DaimlerChrysler plans to break spots for Dodge Neon later this month via Montemayor y Asociados, San Antonio.

Ad penetration into ethnic markets has broadened as media outlets have expanded, said Tere Zubizaretta, owner of Zubi Advertising in Coral Gables, Fla. Zubi handles the Hispanic portion of Ford division and corporate advertising.


With multimedia vehicles like BET Holdings spreading beyond TV into print, films and Internet, the African-American market also is easier to reach.

GM's VP-Corporate Marketing and Advertising Phil Guarascio said that represents the carmaker's "broader, more formal commitment to the other elements [beyond the flagship BET cable channel] of BET Holdings."

Although GM's overall spending is not set to increase significantly in 2000, Mr. Guarascio said ethnic marketing will rise, becoming a bigger piece of the total budget.

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