As one of the smallest auto franchises in America, Porsche must introduce new products with a tiny advertising budget.
Fred Schwab, president of Porsche Cars North America Inc. in Atlanta, declines to say just how little it is. But he says, 'It's peanuts compared to the other guys.'
Schwab says Porsche has no immediate plans to boost ad spending, even though sales are running 20 percent ahead of last year. But in two years, the company will begin selling a sport-utility for the first time. That, Schwab admits, will require Porsche to go after customers in new ways.
One way will be through a direct-mail marketing campaign - as yet undeveloped - to reach nontraditional customers.
'The first thing we have to do is explain to a whole lot of people who Porsche is. We have to tell people that all Porsches don't cost $100,000,' he says.
'We're entering a different world with the SUV,' he says. 'A lot of people are going to say, `SUV? Porsche?' But because of our involvement with Baja racing, for example, we actually have a heritage in four-wheel-drive vehicles.'
Over the years, Porsche Cars has developed ways to advertise frugally but effectively. For instance, it is the only Porsche sales subsidiary in the world that buys TV spots. But it does so only in its top 10 sales markets, and then only selectively. Since males account for 85 percent of its sales, its ads show up where men are likely to be gathered around the TV - during the NFL game of the week, for example.
'We have to go where the boys are,' Schwab says. But a Porsche spot also ran during the annual Emmy Awards program. 'Well, where the girls are, the boys are,' he notes slyly.
Porsche expects to sell just 20,000 cars this year in the United States. Chevrolet sells that many vehicles in about three days - although Porsche's sports cars do cost two to three times the sticker on most Chevys.
The automaker has learned where to look for buyers. Doctors, for example, constitute about 20 percent of all Porsche customers. Therefore, the company has begun advertising in health-care trade journals.