Candace Robbins, brand manager of the Oldsmobile Bravada sport-utility, is aggressively targeting more women.
'When we look at the utility segment, although growth is starting to stabilize, women are still moving into the segment in droves,' she said.
A little more than 40 percent of Oldsmobile Bravada buyers are women. Robbins is shooting for an even split between men and women buyers. Oldsmobile sold 22,490 Bravadas through October, compared with 25,489 a year ago.
All Bravada magazine ads since spring have been aimed at women. Female buyers are attracted to the SmartTrak system, which changes automatically from two- to four-wheel drive when road conditions change.
The sport-utility will continue to target females this year, although Robbins said her approach may change next year.
Women appear in the ads from Leo Burnett USA in Chicago. One headline says, 'As a matter of fact, I do drive like a girl.'
Consumer researcher Phil Sawyer said the Bravada print ads are scoring up to 20 percent above average with women. Sawyer is director of Starch Advertising Research in Harrison, N.Y.
Starch interviews in June with about 700 magazine readers revealed 71 percent of women readers of Ebony read the Bravada ads and remembered who the advertiser was.
'When you get women to read the copy of a car ad you're doing something good, because women generally don't read car ads,' Sawyer said. He said Oldsmobile is on the right track by creating ads that try to talk directly to women. High scores in Starch's magazine ad readers' surveys traditionally have led to higher sales of the advertiser's products, he said.
Oldsmobile, under General Manager Karen Francis since January, started targeting women and minorities more seriously this year. That's because those consumers don't have preconceived negative notions about the brand, said Mike Sands, advertising and sales promotion director at the division.