Car companies launched four dozen new or redesigned vehicles in the United States last year. U.S. automakers touted their employee pricing programs all summer.
Despite those major initiatives, automotive marketers spent 1.8 percent less to advertise in traditional U.S. media - mainly broadcast and print - in 2005 than they did in 2004.
TNS Media Intelligence reports that automakers spent nearly $10.71 billion on U.S. advertising last year, compared with almost $10.91 billion the year before. Those figures do not include local advertising by auto dealers.
"It was a very busy year, and marketing budgets were up," says Gene Cameron, executive director of Media Solutions, a unit of J.D. Power and Associates. "A lot of marketers went to nontraditional media for (vehicle) introductions."
Power says automakers introduced 48 new or redesigned cars and trucks last year, compared with 43 in 2004 and a scheduled 64 this year.
General Motors, the largest U.S. automotive advertiser, spent $2.76 billion in 2005 to advertise its cars and trucks. That was 8.6 percent more than in 2004, TNS says. Several GM brands - Buick (43.7 percent), Pontiac (38.7 percent), Hummer (26.8 percent) and GMC (24.2 percent) - got especially large increases in their ad budgets.
Pontiac marketing director Mark-Hans Richer notes that the brand launched the Solstice roadster and Torrent SUV last year. In addition to advertising, Richer says Pontiac placed several of its vehicles in popular TV shows.
"We do an innovative mix of media, from 'Survivor' to 'The Apprentice' to 'Jimmy Kimmel Live,' " Richer says. "We got some huge returns on some very limited investments."
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