GM debuts online campaign for Escalade

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General Motors Corp. is hoping to drum up interest in its 2002 model Cadillac Escalade sport-utility vehicle with an ambitious prelaunch effort on the Internet.

Starting in November, the Net push includes online ads, a vehicle giveaway and a charity fund-raiser.

Cadillac expects to debut a new site for the redesigned sport-utility Nov. 8. The address is expected to be

Every two weeks, a new 15-second video episode showing an Escalade designer or engineer discussing a feature of the SUV will be shown on the site. The marketer's agency, the Troy, Mich., office of D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, worked with Novo, also Troy, to develop the new site. D'Arcy created the six video episodes that will air through January.

Clips of the episodes also will be used in streaming-video banner ads. The ads break Nov. 8 on several sites, including AOL,, Car&, and

"Using innovative technology goes hand in hand with the ingenious attributes of the all-new Escalade," said Susan Docherty, brand manager.

Talkmeister Rosie O'Donnell will kick off the campaign on her show. She'll send an e-mail on the program encouraging viewers to visit the Escalade Web site, which is hyperlinked to the existing cadillac. com. For every e-mail sent, Cadillac will donate a dollar to the Make a Wish Foundation, up to a maximum of $25,000. GM will match Cadillac's donation.


Consumers who view the entire video episode or visit the new Web site are registered to win a new 2002 Escalade. The redone SUV is due in showrooms early next year.

Escalade hasn't received much ad support since its debut in late 1998. In 1999, Cadillac spent $3 million in measured media for the SUV, backing it with a $5 million media buy in the first half of 2000, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Cadillac is trying to reposition itself to appeal to younger buyers. Susan Jacobs, president of auto consultancy Jacobs & Associates, said Cadillac's online effort may arouse interest in consumers 35 and younger who may eventually be interested in buying a Cadillac, but a better strategy for Escalade would be events that allow prospects to drive the SUV.

Ms. Jacobs said Cadillac's more crucial launches will be the all-new Catera and Evoq two-seater. The redesigned CTS replaces the German-made Catera sedan in early 2002, followed by the two-seater Evoq, due as a 2003 model. "The Evoq and new Catera will add a more emotional dimension to the Cadillac brand and build momentum going forward," she said.

Cadillac cites Escalade's key competitors as BMW of North America's X5; Toyota Motor Sales USA's Lexus LX470; Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln Navigator and DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes-Benz M-Class.

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