General Motors launches its new Certified Used Vehicles program Wednesday, July 16, with an integrated $8 million national campaign - the most ambitious for any carmaker.
The effort is the first for GM from Wenham, Mass., advertising agency Mullen. The account eventually could represent $24 million annually in spending, according to a report in Advertising Age, a sister publication to Automotive News.
'We're trying to create a brand here,' said Phil Guarascio, vice president of marketing and advertising at GM's North American Operations.
LOCAL DEALER TAGS
Mullen has developed two TV spots, four magazine ads and a national newspaper ad. Dealers have the option of tagging TV spots and customizing newspaper ads for local use.
Mullen handled national media planning, while GM MediaWorks is placing the national schedule. The campaign runs through mid-November and will return early next year.
'We were looking for some emotional turf where we could create a brand and make this connection with consumers,' said Joe Grimaldi, Mullen COO.
A headline in the national newspaper ad, breaking in USA Today on Thursday, July 17, reads: 'We now introduce a vehicle that runs on trust.'
The ad campaign carries the tag line 'Ready for life,' reflecting the real-life situations that are central to the creative approach.
One TV commercial features children revealing their needs for love and encouragement; they also need 'rides.'
Magazine ads have little copy and show items inside the outlines of a car, minivan and sport-utility. One shows a minivan outline with a crayon, juice box and other children's toys inside.
GM's campaign differs from used-car superstore competitors, such as CarMax and AutoNation USA. The used-car superstores' advertising campaigns focus on how they are changing used-car buying.
'If I were launching a program, I'd probably do the same thing,' said Roy Pikus, director of GM's Certified Used Vehicle program.
A record 3.5 million vehicles will come off lease this year, J.D. Power and Associates projects, up from some 3 million in 1996. Loretta Seymour, director of auto sales research at J.D. Power, said more consumers are cross-shopping, looking at both new and used cars.
The used-car superstores are not the real impetus pushing GM and other carmakers to start used-car programs, she said. Since last fall, AutoNation's new-car business has grown more rapidly than used cars, and automakers are looking to change the way their dealers do business in order to compete.
'After the sale, after three or four years of owning the car, (consumers) want to know who will deliver the best ownership experience,' said Pikus.
GM has an edge in that area, Guarascio said, because it has a lot of dealer outlets and a long track record.
But of GM's 8,000 dealers eligible for the program, only 500 have agreed to participate.
Cadillac and Saturn each have separate programs.