SAN DIEGO -- General Motors has established marketing partnerships with professional football and baseball teams in California.
The deals are part of the automaker's latest effort to rebuild sales in a state that likes import brands.
Michael Jackson, general manager of GM's West region, also says new ads and commercials that emphasize product features, rather than inexpensive deals, will be helpful here.
"It is especially important in high-volume segments like Camry and Accord to talk about the features," he said at a press event here.
"Where we're weakest out here is the mid-sized cars. That's where we need to improve significantly."
For 2005, GM became the official automaker of the San Francisco 49ers football team. The company provides private transportation to and from each home game for about 30 guests of the owner of the team in Chevrolet Suburbans, Hummer H2s and Escalade ESVs.
The company also partnered with baseball's Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland Athletics and gave away about 12 vehicles per team during home stands.
GM enlisted the help of athletes and movie stars in California to help the company with the design of the redesigned Escalade SUV.
The company is considering building a permanent track in Southern California for consumer test drives of GM and competing vehicles.
It also will continue the Auto Show in Motion events throughout California, where owners of non-GM brands are invited to drive all GM brands and competitive vehicles.
"It's expensive," Jackson says of the promotions. He says Auto Show in Motion events cost $600,000 to $800,000 each.
But GM must spend the money, he says. "Consumers are not going to educate themselves about GM in California, so it's up to us to try to change the mind-set."
You may e-mail Kathy Jackson at