DETROIT - CJ Fraleigh says "it's a good time to be at GM." One reason: General Motors is riding high on its trucks and regaining market share.
Fraleigh, 38, joined GM as executive director of corporate advertising and marketing last January from Pepsico Inc.
He spent much of the year learning GM's corporate culture. This year, his mission is to focus GM's ads on a single message. He cites Chevrolet trucks' longtime "Like a Rock" advertising as an example.
The combination of good product and advertising, he believes, will help GM regain market share.
GM has made some gains already. Last year, it bumped its share of the U.S. light-truck market by two points, to 30.4 percent. This year, GM's share is up 3.5 points. (See box above.) The Cadillac Escalade, Chevy TrailBlazer and GMC Envoy sport-utilities are all going strong.
Fraleigh believes new or redesigned cars and fresh advertising will help the car side, where GM's market share continues to slip.
Fraleigh cites Cadillac's new "Break through" campaign from D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles in Troy, Mich., which focuses on the Escalade and the new CTS sedan.
The Escalade ads emphasize that it has a bigger engine than its competitors. Cadillac's sales are up 4.1 percent through March.
McCann-Erickson Worldwide, also in Troy, is creating a Buick brand blitz and will discontinue the "It's all Good" tag line this summer for a more sophisticated approach. And Saturn's new agency, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco, has started work on a new brand campaign for Saturn's L-series mid-sized car line this summer and the introduction of the Ion small car this fall.
"All of our car brands have either moved or are in the process of moving toward stronger, cleaner, more compelling divisional ad campaigns," he said.
On other marketing issues, Fraleigh says GM won't make any major changes in overall ad spending or wholesale media shifts this year.
That's a different scenario from last year, when the automaker moved significant dollars from national to regional buys, cut TV spending in the second quarter and trimmed several magazines from its roster for several months.
Also on Fraleigh's plate this year: have more variety in events, integrate divisional brand ad themes at events, continue test drives and continue online partnerships to connect with vehicle shoppers.
Another big goal for the automaker is to attract higher-income, college-educated consumers.
"We have struggled with high-income households. That's why the CTS is so important," says Paul Ballew, GM's executive director of market and industry analysis.
And Ballew concedes that "we still have some holes in our lineup - cars and small SUVs."