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Daewoo Motor America, after lengthy delays and numerous twists and turns, finally is ready to sell cars in the U.S.-at least in the Southeast.

A promotional ad campaign offering a free car for a year starts Sept. 7 in that region, tied to the opening of its first dealerships.

The South Korean car importer was originally set to debut its models last fall, but the plan was delayed by the Asian financial woes.

"It's a hard time to enter the market," said John Slaven, a former Volkswagen of America marketing executive who now operates consultancy Slaven Marketing Services. "The market isn't exactly waiting for another Korean car."


Daewoo's regional office in Atlanta teamed with eight radio stations for the six-week media flight. Each station, two per market, will give away between 10 and 20 Daewoo vehicles.

Winners can use the cars for a year, said Bruce Schufreider, director of operations in the region.

No ad agency was involved in the campaign. Daewoo's regional staff worked with the stations to develop contests tailored to their formats; and the stations handled creative, which discusses car features and a hassle-free buying experience.

"We want to own those stations for six weeks," said Mr. Schufreider. "I think we're going to get a lot out of this."

Daewoo will display its trio of vehicles-the Leganza and Nubira sedans and the Lanos hatchback-at 10 events in the region, starting this week at Pearl Jam and Beastie Boys concerts in Atlanta, said Clay Ferrer, marketing manager.


The radio stations, which also get a Daewoo vehicle to adorn with their decals, will do live remotes from the events. But it wasn't a barter deal.

"It does include a radio buy, with almost a 5-1 ratio of promotional announcements per 60-second spot," said Mr. Ferrer, who declined to reveal a spending figure.

Daewoo's college-student marketers in the area, recruited in May to push the brand on campuses (AA, June 4), will attend all events.

The contest will help Daewoo generate a database of potential customers. Daewoo's main target is 18-to-24-year-old consumers.

Last summer, Daewoo staged agency reviews in four regions for regional advertising. Each account was expected to spend $10 million annually. The autonomous regions were to report directly to parent Daewoo Group in Seoul. At that time, Daewoo Motor America had not yet been created.

In October, the shop selected by the Central region, Leap Partnership, Chicago, announced Daewoo had picked it to develop a national brand platform and strategy for the U.S. launch, although the auto marketer never confirmed that assignment. In April, Daewoo went outside its stable of regional shops-the others were Ground Zero, Santa Monica, Calif.; Korey, Kay & Partners, New York; and Fletcher Martin, Atlanta-to tap minority shop Pancom International, Los Angeles, for print ads for college newspapers that recruited students as on-campus brand advocates.


Then in May, the marketer centralized its U.S. operations in Compton, Calif., and said it would consolidate the regional ad accounts at one of the four agencies. But by June, Daewoo switched plans, saying it would work with agencies on a project basis and declined to name the shops it would be using. Some of the regional shops are believed to be on that list.

The Southeast region agency, Fletcher Martin, resigned the business this summer.

Daewoo has said earlier it wants to sell 100,000 cars annually in the U.S. within a year of its launch.

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