To click with youth, GMC pitches go viral
Instead, GMC is looking at viral marketing -- messages spread by e-mail and social networking sites to generate interest for products.
GMC is using YouTube, an Internet site for videos, to market its Terrain compact crossover, which launched in August. More on that later.
Steve Rosenblum, Buick-GMC's director of advertising and promotions, says GMC needs new types of advertising for young shoppers. This will help the brand sell crossovers and continue to reduce its reliance on brawny SUVs and pickups.
After launching the Acadia and Terrain crossovers, Rosenblum says he thinks the next step is the smaller, four-passenger Granite crossover concept introduced last week at the Detroit auto show.
If GMC produces the Granite or a similar vehicle, it would target a new audience -- people 35 or younger. That might mean no TV commercial or no use of GMC's well-regarded tag line "Professional Grade," Rosenblum says.
Instead, Rosenblum's team has developed a brochure with bar-code-type designs called quick response codes that smart phones can read. Phones scan the codes and point consumers to Web pages that give details on the Granite's features, offer opportunities for social networking and discuss designers' inspirations for the concept.The marketers are hoping consumers then will spread the word by e-mailing the codes or the site address, gmc.com/granite, to their friends, Rosenblum says.
GMC is pursuing smart phone marketing, he says, because studies show that by 2011, two-thirds of cell phone sales to people under 40 will be smart phones.
For now, GMC is using YouTube to create buzz for the Terrain. The crossover's site on YouTube, youtube.com/gmc, is called "Terrain's World" after the "Saturday Night Live" "Wayne's World" sketches and 1990s movies. The site is live, but won't be available through Web searches until Wednesday, Jan. 20.
"Terrain's World" includes colorful and whimsical drawings of urban settings and landscapes. A cloud sprouts a rainbow and a city skyline shoots off fireworks when you hover your mouse over them. An airship is a link to a GMC dealer guide, and a winking sun links to ways to share the site with friends.
The site also has typical YouTube elements, such as humorous videos. One parodies a commercial for a weight-loss potion by showing women who lost more than 1,000 pounds (in vehicle weight) by switching to the Terrain.