Isuzu promotes limited warranty in SUV ad effort

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American Isuzu Motors touts its beefed-up warranty in its first national TV and print ads of calendar 2000.

The truck marketer introduced the warranty last fall, starting with its 2000 sport utility vehicles. The power train is covered for 10 years or 120,000 miles. Isuzu previously offered a five-year, 60,000 mile program.

"We expect the 10-120 warranty will have a significant impact on the franchise this year," said Bob Reilly, chief operating officer of Isuzu. He said he wanted unit sales to break 110,000, up from about 104,000 in 1999.


Isuzu also is making good on a strategy it revealed last fall to narrow its target market to people who play hard.

Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, created two new 30-second spots, which break March 16 on CBS' coverage of the college basketball playoffs. The buy continues on CBS through April 2, but moves to cable's Discovery Channel in late April.

In one, voice-over introduces the limited warranty as a Trooper drives over various roads. "You're covered," the announcer says, whether you drive around town all day or on more treacherous roads. "You want to drive it off a cliff, well, that's where the limited warranty comes in."

The second spot points out "it's more fun getting dirty" in the Isuzu than in a generic SUV in a car wash with "mudfree mudflaps" and "bug-free grills." Both spots retain the "Go farther" tag.

National print arrives this month. The buy includes Backpacker, Men's Journal, National Geographic, Ski, Southern Living, Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated for Women, Travel & Leisure, and Women's Sports & Fitness.

Isuzu spent $140 million in measured media in 1998, according to Competitive Media Reporting. The marketer said it spent only $82 million nationally last year. The carmaker wouldn't reveal the budget of the new campaign, but it's estimated at about $25 million.

Isuzu has improved its awareness and shopping consideration among consumers in the past 18 months, said Art Spinella, VP at consultancy CNW Marketing/Research. He said cross-shoppers aren't just looking at other Japanese SUVs, but also at Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. models.


Goodby also is developing work that Isuzu's 440 U.S. dealers can use locally under a new co-op plan started this year, Mr. Reilly said.

Last year, Isuzu doubled the number of its regional dealer ad groups to 24, which collectively spent about $25 million. The groups were allowed to pick their own shops, but Isuzu requires that ads contain certain elements, including the Isuzu logo, "Go farther" tag and the expanded warranty.

The major shops with regional accounts are: Terry L. Butz Creative, Waterloo, Iowa; Davis Agency, Seminole, Fla.; Fowler Advertising, Glen Burnie, Del.; Strong Automotive, Birmingham, Ala.; Team II Automotive Advertising, Miami, Fla.; and Zimmerman & Partners, Fort Lauderdale.


Mr. Spinella said giving dealers some control over their regional advertising tends to be more effective. He cited a problem DaimlerChrysler's Jeep brand had in Florida two years ago: It was losing share to competitors because regional ads from FCB Worldwide's Southfield, Mich., office showed the SUV in the mountains.

Florida prospects "couldn't relate" to those commercials, he said.

"You've got to give these guys some freedom in their own areas," Mr. Spinella said.

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