What automotive nameplate leads the pack in advertising directly to women? Chevrolet Cavalier, if spending in women's magazines is any indication.
Cavalier spent more than any other automotive nameplate between 1996 and 1998, according to Competitive Media Reporting. The little Chevy ranked 11th in 1997 with buys totaling $6.7 million in women's magazines - the only automotive nameplate to show up among the overall top 20 advertisers during the three-year period.
Cavalier's spending was down somewhat in 1998, probably because strikes idled GM's plants for two months last summer. It still led all automotive nameplates, however, outpacing Saturn, the second-place spender, by $1.2 million through Oct. 31.
'We've made a commitment to the women's market and are trying to cultivate relationships,' says Bridget McCarville, the 31-year-old ad manager for Cavalier. McCarville, who came on the job last May, acknowledges she has no data proving advertising in women's magazines translates to sales. But she believes women are positively disposed to the Cavalier message when it is presented in a forum they trust. And McCarville says she can target very well with magazines.
Domestic nameplates, by far, lead the field in advertising in women's magazines. Only the Toyota Tercel and Celica and Honda Civic appeared on the top 20 automotive list in 1996. The Mazda 626 was the only foreign nameplate to make the list in 1997, and Toyota Celica, Acura CL and Honda Civic made it last year.
Cavalier will heighten its message to women even more this year. For the first time, the Cavalier name will be associated with GM's sponsorship of Concept: Cure, a 3-year-old program to raise money for breast cancer research and awareness. Cavalier will be one of five specially designed GM cars that consumers can win by making a donation to Concept: Cure. As part of the promotion, Cavalier will have a bigger presence on the Internet, and inserts about Concept: Cure will be placed in women's magazines.
'We're not just communicating to Cavalier buyers,' says McCarville. 'We're communicating to women overall in the small-car segment.'