GM begins settling Oldsmobile's estate
Oldsmobile's death warrant is only weeks old but already General Motors divisions and dealers are lobbying to receive Olds vehicles. The buzz inside GM and its dealer network is that Cadillac will get the Bravada, redesigned for 2002, and Chevrolet will get the Aurora, redesigned for 2001. Both vehicles would need to be freshened to fit in their new families, of course. The Alero, originally with life expectancy through 2005, also could end up at Chevy, insiders speculate. The majority of dual Oldsmobile dealerships share space with Chevy, making for an easier transition. The Intrigue, with a life expectancy through 2003, and the Silhouette, expected to last through 2004, likely will go down with Oldsmobile, insiders say.
NOT ROCKING THE BOAT - In its demise, Oldsmobile is sticking with incumbent ad agency Leo Burnett USA in Chicago because the agency has 'fire sales' down pat to sell vehicles in local markets. Leo, criticized by some for its Oldsmobile brand advertising, was forced into a campaign competition against McCann-Erickson Worldwide and E. Morris Communications before General Motors decided to kill Oldsmobile. Now the regional advertising approach, concerned only with moving product out of showrooms, will be elevated nationwide. If the GM brand had gone with one of Leo's competitors, 'It would take a whole new team of folks to do the retail side as well as the national,' said Oldsmobile spokesman Gus Buenz.
DREAMIN' OF A WHITE ... Forget that it was freezing outside. Oklahoma City used-car dealer Shelli Dawson must have been sweating Christmas Day. That's because the dealership she manages, Premier Auto Inc., had run a promotion for customers who purchased cars in December: If it snowed 3 inches or more on Christmas, the cars were completely paid for. So guess what the forecast called for? 'The news was forecasting snow that day,' Dawson said. 'We got a bunch of snow all right - but it came in after midnight. We got like 7 inches. And it kept snowing.' Twenty-three car buyers would have been affected, she said. Fortunately, Dawson had insurance to cover the $236,500 cost of the cars. Still, she thought she had a safe promo: 'Historically in Oklahoma it doesn't snow on Christmas.'
A $20 MILLION THANK-YOU - Ford Motor Co. wanted to thank dealers for helping to soften the Firestone tire recall's blow to the safety image of the Ford Explorer. For example, to appease customers many dealers replaced Firestone tires that were not included in the recall. So Ford sent checks totaling $20 million on Dec. 22, according to two sources familiar with the program. Ford Division's 4,100 dealerships received $75 for each four-door Explorer sold from Jan. 1 to Oct. 31, 2000, the sources said. Every dealer also received a $1,000 payment. Said Ford Division spokesman Bill George: 'The dealers were on the front lines the whole time.'