Mike McEnaney, executive director for sales and marketing services, OnStar
When GM's OnStar communications and navigation service was introduced in 1997 models, it was limited to the Cadillac DeVille, Seville and Eldorado in hopes of giving Cadillac a marketing edge. By year end, OnStar will be in nearly 1 million vehicles across most of General Motors' lines.
This year's edgy Batman advertising campaign has earned OnStar additional customer consideration, as well as critical acclaim. At the Detroit Caddy Awards Show in October, for example, OnStar's Batman campaign was nominated for 11 awards and received two gold and five bronze awards. The Caddy Awards Show is an annual event that recognizes outstanding advertising and marketing programs by Detroit-area advertising agencies.
In an 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it,' vein, Mike McEnaney, OnStar's executive director for sales and marketing services, said that OnStar will continue to use the Batman advertising theme next year.
'Our campaign works on a number of levels,' McEnaney says - 'from entertainment to emphasizing the technological innovations of OnStar.
'That man (Batman) is an integral part of our advertising.'
With the recent expansion to non-GM vehicles, including the 2001 Lexus LS 430, the 2002 Acura RL and possibly Audi, GM's wholly owned subsidiary expects to be installed in 4 million vehicles by the end of 2003.
Says Len Hunt, head of Audi of America Inc.: 'OnStar has done a particularly good job in branding itself. It offers a quality service, and they're doing a good job of communicating what OnStar is.'
OnStar is a satellite system that connects drivers to an operator. For an annual fee of either $199 for basic or $399 for premium, GM customers receive services such as emergency help, travel directions and dinner reservations. Additional services such as voice-activated cellular phone access and e-mail access will be added soon.
OnStar's expansion has been aided by its inclusion in many GM models as standard equipment or as an option during strong sales years.
Finbarr O'Neill, CEO, Hyundai Motor America Inc.
By 1998, Hyundai Motor America Inc. was a marketer's worst nightmare. Annual U.S. sales, which had peaked at 264,000 in 1988, were hovering just above 90,000 cars. Recurring questions about quality dogged the automaker.
Then came Finbarr O'Neill, who took over as CEO of U.S. operations in 1998 and tackled the quality problem head-on by passionately and persistently arguing that Hyundai's products were getting a bad rap, and then introducing a warranty to show that the company would stand behind its workmanship.
O'Neill founded the brand revival on a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and has marketed the guarantee alongside the introductions of the Santa Fe sport-utility and the upscale XG300 sedan, as well as the redesign of the Elantra subcompact sedan.
The results have been remarkable. After Hyundai saw U.S. sales nearly double in 1999 on a shoestring ad budget of $125 million, sales are up another 50.4 percent in the first 11 months of this year over the same period a year ago. U.S. sales are expected to reach 270,000 in 2001, which would surpass the automaker's record of 264,000 set 12 years ago
O'Neill, 48, joined Hyundai Motor America in 1985 as vice president and general counsel. He started in the auto industry as a lawyer at Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc., after a seven-year stint in a New York law firm.
Liz Vanzura, director of marketing and advertising, Volkswagen of America Inc.
During the four years she has been marketing Volkswagens, Liz Vanzura's name has become a mainstay in the automotive marketing lexicon. Under her leadership, the Jetta nameplate has been reinvigorated, the New Beetle has been fitted with its distinct personality and it's suddenly cool to be caught driving a Volkswagen.
Highlighting this year's marketing effort is the company's success with online sales. With the help of its dealer council, VW offered the New Beetle in two exclusive colors available only over the Web and promoted the offering with a $5 million national TV and print campaign.
During the spring campaign, 2,500 of the 4,000 limited-edition vehicles were sold online. Customers chose their limited-edition New Beetle, bargained with their local dealer and closed the deal via www.vw.com. Ninety percent of the dealers participating in the initiative said they'd love to do it again.
Along with making inroads into the new-media sector, Vanzura, 36, continued her push-the-envelope approach to traditional media. Once only good for selling cars, TV spots now have become VW's platform to push a lifestyle of edgy music and relaxed driving upon an entire generation. And then there's VW's success in providing traffic-stopping outdoor - fueled by a modest collection of ads featuring simple one-liners written over a plain white background.
Before joining VW in 1997, Vanzura spent 13 years in marketing, planning and research at General Motors, including her work as Pontiac-GMC relationship marketing manager.