DETROIT - Chevrolet has cut advertising for its slow-selling Camaro.
Several magazine advertising salespeople, who spoke on condition they not be identified, said Camaro ads have been pulled from their publications for the rest of this year beginning with the June issues.
However, Rick Wagoner, president of General Motors' North American Operations, said GM is not about to drop the Camaro and its sister, the Pontiac Firebird.
'They're going to be with us at this point for several years,' he said. 'We've got the money invested in them, and we've got the plant running.' But, Wagoner added: 'It's going to be hard to justify a repeat of that product.'
GM has been debating recently whether to drop the Camaro, the Firebird or both. The two cars were scheduled to stay in production in Ste. Therese, Quebec, through the 2001 model year.
The salespeople for the magazines were not told by Chevrolet whether Camaro advertisements will resume in their publications next year.
'This is more than just a cut,' said one magazine ad salesperson. 'They're reassessing the brand,' and could go as far as eliminating advertising for the car.
Network TV advertising for the Camaro has also been cut.
According to Competitive Media Reporting, Chevrolet spent $926,000 on Camaro network TV commercials during the first two months of 1998, compared to $2 million in the same period of 1997.
But some of that money was shifted to spot TV ads. Chevrolet spent $592,000 on spot Camaro ads during the first two months of this year compared to $58,000 in the same period last year. Spot TV ads are designed to boost sales in favorable markets.
As for the Firebird, two magazines said Pontiac had not pulled advertising for the car.
Chevrolet officials acknowledged that they have cut advertising for the Camaro, but spokesman Dan Hubbert declined to be specific.
Pontiac-GMC spokesman Dan Greene declined to comment on Firebird advertising.
Wagoner said GM hasn't 'found that a higher level of advertising, incentive support and general promotion has really helped to grow the volume very much' for the Camaro and Firebird.
The Camaro cuts are part of a broad reduction in advertising costs mandated by GM's North American Operations.
Through April, Camaro sales were off 22.1 percent - 15,159 this year, compared to 19,463 last year.
Firebird sales were up 17.4 percent through April, to 11,386.
Meanwhile, sales of the Camaro's and Firebird's chief competitor, the Ford Mustang, were up 35.3 percent through April. The total was 46,126.
According to Competitive Media Reporting, Chevrolet spent $24.4 million on advertising for the Camaro last year. Pontiac-GMC spent $20.1 million on advertising for the Firebird.