In a bid to boost subscriptions to 1 million this year, General Motors' OnStar has enlisted Batman as its spokeshero and doubled its annual marketing budget.
Beginning in February, national TV commercials touting OnStar, GM's in-vehicle communications system, will feature the Caped Crusader as he has been seen in recent movies. In a unique deal with Warner Bros. and DC Comics, the commercials were created by many of the key production people who made the most recent Batman movie, and use the same sets.
Ad agency Campbell-Ewald is heading the campaign.
Chet Huber, managing director of OnStar, declined to say how much OnStar is spending on the Batman deal. However, he said OnStar's 2000 marketing budget will be double 1999's.
The OnStar three-button system, available as a factory-installed option in 20 GM vehicles, allows vehicle occupants to contact an OnStar operator in an emergency, or for directions and concierge services. By the end of 2000, the system will be expanded to include voice-activated cellular phone service and Internet access.
It also is available as a dealer-installed option on several other GM vehicles and a port-installed option on Saab cars. GM owns Saab.
OnStar's goal is to increase subscriptions to 1 million by year-end and to 4 million by 2003 from 100,000 in 1999. The GM business unit also wants to make the OnStar name synonymous with in-vehicle communications, as Kleenex is synonymous with tissue, said Jeff Cohen, OnStar director of marketing.
OnStar kicked off its Batman campaign two weeks ago with teaser ads in several major magazines. The ads feature the word 'Superhero' in large type, with the 'o' replaced by a blue and white OnStar button.