MORE ADS - Auto marketers plan to keep the pedal to the metal in 1999. Eight of 11 car marketing executives interviewed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this month told Advertising Age, a sister publication to Automotive News, that they plan to increase their ad budgets. Three executives said their 1999 ad budgets would be comparable to last year's. General Motors, which cut ad spending substantially in 1998 because of labor strikes, expects to spend about the same amount on advertising as it did in 1997, said Ron Zarrella, president of GM North America. According to Competitive Media Reporting, in 1997 GM was the nation's No. 1 advertiser with $2.6 billion in measured media spending.
ICE BLOCK - Saab did not win any friends in the press with its display at the auto show in frigid and snowbound Detroit. The automaker's exhibit featured a 60,000-pound block of ice and a refrigerated wall. 'It's an indication of our brand essence,' which is Scandinavian, said spokeswoman Elke Martin. 'We didn't intend for it to be a symbol of Detroit's weather.'
DRIVERS WANTED - Volkswagen extended its Drivers Wanted brand campaign to its exhibit at the Detroit auto show. Using what is called a blue box, visitors seemingly could be placed on the road in a VW Jetta. A camera superimposes images of the participants on a running videotape. To onlookers watching a TV monitor, it looks like the Jetta and its passengers are speeding down the road. A director gives instructions to participants so they are in sync with the video. Steve Keyes, VW's director of corporate communication, said, 'The intent was to provide some sense of actually experiencing what it is like to drive a Volkswagen.'
WEB TV - For the second year, Microsoft CarPoint, an online car-buying service, provided Web coverage of the Detroit auto show. CarPoint provided live overhead shots of the exhibit hall, 360-degree views of the vehicles and mini Web sites featuring manufacturers' brands, products and their auto show initiatives. CarPoint boasted that its technology was so good that Internet users could even inspect door handles. Being the official Web site of the show 'builds awareness of CarPoint within the automotive industry,' said Robyn Gorman, CarPoint's product manager.