Marketers for the Buick Century are taking a slightly different direction with the sedan's 1998 ad campaign.
The push introduces the new tag line, 'A luxury car for everyone,' replacing the year-old 'Discover a little luxury in this Century.'
Magazine ads arrive in July issues. McCann-Erickson Worldwide of Troy, Mich., is the agency.
This year's campaign touts Century's luxury at a starting price of less than $20,000, and uses more emotional touches than last year's feature-oriented executions.
The campaign continues Buick's effort to find younger buyers for the Century, which was redesigned in March 1997.
The median age of buyers of the old model was 69. The new model's median buyer is down to 62, but Brand Manager Tony Derhake is aiming for buyers between 45 and 59.
Buick also is aiming to attract young families to the Century; many of the new ads feature children.
But Derhake added that Buick is not going overboard on the luxury theme, and is courting middle-class buyers. The voiceover in one of the commercials asks if the rich are entitled to more. Buick's answer, using the attributes of the Century, is no.
Century ads were scheduled to be broadcast on the final episode of 'Seinfeld' Thursday, May 14.
Buick also will have TV commercials for the Century on the season finales of 'Dharma & Greg,' 'Touched by an Angel' and 'Suddenly Susan.'
Thirty-second Century spots ran on the TV broadcast of the film Sammy the Bull, and were scheduled for Bridges of Madison County on Sunday, May 17.
Buick hopes to cash in on May sweep weeks, when TV networks pull out all stops to attract big audiences and boost their shows' advertising rates.
'We're taking the luxury piece of Century and kind of touching it up,' said Derhake.
The new pitch tells consumers they can buy a Century equipped with such features as keyless entry, a navigation system or a voice-activated cellular telephone.
Derhake declined to discuss this year's Century ad spending. According to Competitive Media Reporting, Buick spent $62.8 million in measured media on Century ads last year.
'We obviously launched strong in '97, and that obviously will come down in '98,' he said.
GM has ordered its divisions to trim marketing costs, but ad spending for a vehicle could stay the same if a division decides to reduce the vehicles' promotional budget or event marketing.
For instance, Buick is heavily promoting and event-marketing the Regal through its sponsorship of the Women's National Basketball Association. In one national sweepstakes, Buick will give away 10 Regals.
GM's past practice of 'feeding' ad budgets during introductions and then 'starving' follow-up budgets for its vehicles is history, Derhake said.
The Century redesign has lifted sales.
Buick Century calendar 1998 sales through April were 44,847, its highest total for those four months in the last eight years.
Buick says the main competitors of the Century are the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Ford Taurus. Of the three, Derhake said the Century is attracting the most Taurus owners.
Staff Reporter Frank S. Washington contributed to this report