In an effort to generate more floor traffic and improve its market share, General Motors is pumping up newspaper advertising, according to several dealers and two newspaper ad salespeople.
Recent figures are not available from GM or organizations that monitor media spending. But two ad salesmen from separate companies that represent several dozen local newspapers reported record jumps from GM's regions.
Their GM ad sales started to rise slightly early this year and have risen even more since April. Both salesmen, who asked for anonymity, projected the trend will continue through 1999.
One of the salesmen said his firm's Buick revenue rose 733 percent through May 1999, compared with last year.
The other newspaper ad salesman said his company sold a record of more than 100,000 inches of ad space during the first two weeks of June vs. a prior peak of 50,000 inches per month a couple of years ago. GM was the driving force, he added.
Several GM dealers confirmed that they are seeing more GM newspaper advertising in their markets.
NEWSPAPERS ARE FASTER
GM is struggling to improve its U.S. market share. Its 1999 share was 29.8 percent through June, down from 31.5 percent for the same six months a year ago.
Newspaper ads can be produced faster and cheaper than TV commercials. That enables GM to react quicker to market conditions, said a GM ad agency executive who asked not to be named.
Dan Hubbert, a spokesman for Chevrolet, confirmed the regions are buying more newspaper ads than the defunct dealer associations. 'Our research has shown people consult newspapers very diligently during the last week or two before purchase,' he said. Newspapers provide more flexibility to react to competitors because of shorter lead times vs. TV, he added.
'When you've gotten as far behind as GM has, you really try to plug sales and go where the buyers are looking, and that's newspapers,' said veteran auto ad executive John Slaven, now president of Slaven Marketing Services in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.
NEW BUYING PROCEDURE
Mike Sands, national ad director at Oldsmobile, said the regions can decide what kind of media to buy. 'In such a hot market and with great incentives on our products, it's very smart to be in newspapers, and I would expect to see an increase in newspaper advertising,' he said.
On April 1, GM terminated its regional dealer associations, which, through their 66 ad agencies, spent about $600 million a year in all measured media. GM's five new regions now handle regional advertising with the national ad agencies for Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Oldsmobile and Pontiac.
TV was the preferred medium for a GM dealer association in Nevada, said a dealer who declined to be identified. 'We did almost 100 percent TV before,' he said. 'I don't see anywhere near as many TV ads now.'