DETROIT -- General Motors' OnStar will launch a media blitz this year promoting its vehicle diagnostics service. The advertising campaign starts airing on TV and radio at the end of the month.
The campaign will supplement OnStar's "real stories" ads that tell consumers' experiences with the telematics service.
"We'll take about half of our advertising media weight, and we'll maintain the 'real stories' campaign, and about half of it will point toward the OnStar vehicle diagnostics service," says Chet Huber, OnStar president. "We think it'll be a nice next step for our campaign."
The main thrust of the new campaign will be on TV, Huber says. OnStar launched its vehicle diagnostics service at the end of September. The service performs hundreds of checks of the engine, transmission, antilock brakes, airbags and OnStar itself. Service subscribers receive a monthly e-mail summarizing the diagnostics checks.
The diagnostics service has 500,000 active subscribers, Huber says. OnStar is signing up diagnostics subscribers at the rate of about 5,000 a day. There is no additional charge.
"We'll be able to evolve this platform going forward," Huber says. "We've already had a number of suggestions from our subscribers. They'd like deeper detailed information."
OnStar is working on breaking out certain diagnostic issues such as emissions, which is included under engine and transmission, Huber says. OnStar will make emissions separate and more detailed in its future diagnostic service.
"People really seem to like the simplicity of this," Huber says. "It gives them the peace of mind extension that OnStar was known for on the security side, but now that extends into their concept of what they need to do to take care of their vehicle -- which is a big deal."
Dealers appreciate that the monthly e-mail lists the selling dealer's contact information, Huber says.
"They like the fact that 12 times a year a customer who signed up will be getting reinforcement of their selling dealers' contact information," Huber says.
OnStar hopes to include Web links in future e-mails so that consumers can schedule a service appointment. OnStar has added the capability to remind customers of recall campaigns.
Starting with the 2007 model year, GM will build 3 million cars a year equipped with OnStar. OnStar is standard equipment on Cadillac, Buick, Hummer and Saturn for the 2006 model year. OnStar reached 4 million subscribers last year, Huber says. He anticipates having at least 2 million subscribers for the diagnostics service by year end.
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