DETROIT -- Buick will get a new advertising campaign for the brand and the new LaCrosse sedan this summer. The campaign will have a different tag line, too, from Buicks current Drive Beautiful.
Buick chief Susan Docherty said General Motors realizes the brand suffers from a consumer perception that its vehicles are for elderly, conservative buyers.
That perception has contributed to a sharp sales slide for Buick from its glory years. In 1984, Buicks U.S. sales peaked at 941,661 units, more than six times as many as last years 137,197.
The first thing weve got to do is change peoples perception about Buick, Docherty, vice president of the Buick-Pontiac-GMC channel, said in an Automotive News interview here at the auto show. In fairness, thats the first job.
GM showed the new LaCrosse at the auto show. Buick now has the Enclave crossover and Lucerne sedan and will have the new LaCrosse in showrooms this summer. While theres potential for more Buick vehicles, Docherty said, the brand is not prepared to do that now.
The job my teams got to do is not worry about expanding Buicks portfolio, she said. They need to worry right now, with the entries weve got, about changing the perception of Buick.
To do that, Buick will draw on what it learned from the Enclave -- which had a 50 percent conquest rate, meaning half of the people coming to the brand were new to it, Docherty said. Through December, Enclave sales rose 52.7 percent to 44,706 units.
The Enclaves new consumers demand technology, Docherty said. Thats why amenities such as a navigation system, side blind-spot alert system and Bluetooth connectivity will be key to Buicks advertising message, she said.
Docherty declined to be more specific other than to say previous ads emphasized comfort and quiet. She told her marketing team: Its OK for our cars to be library quiet, but its not OK for our advertising to be library quiet.
So will we see more bold, almost Cadillac-like, rock n roll advertising? Not quite, Docherty said.
Youll see a renaissance in our messaging for Buick, but we cant be Cadillac and we shouldnt be, Docherty said.
Focus on trucks
In the meantime, Buick-Pontiac-GMC dealers have a specific local marketing advertising assignment this year.
The very first priority for our dealers is to continue our focus on full-sized trucks, Docherty said. Our (GMC) Sierra is our bread and butter.
The second priority, Docherty said, is that dealers should focus on increasing passenger-car sales, such as the Pontiac Vibe, G3, G5 and G6. Those four vehicles each get more than 30 mpg, with prices starting at less than $20,000, she said.
So weve asked them to group those four Pontiacs together four over 30, under 20, Docherty said.
The final priority for dealers is to maintain crossover momentum. Said Docherty: We can be very efficient with our dollars, and they can drive traffic with those three categories.