LOS ANGELES -- After shunning broadcast advertising for most of the first quarter, American Suzuki Motor Corp. returns to TV today with commercials for the SX4 small sedan and hatchback.
Gene Brown, Suzukis vice president of automotive marketing and public relations, says the company ran no TV spots during nine of the first 11 weeks of 2009. He says Suzuki sought to save marketing money during a slow sales period.
Everyone has to conserve cash, Brown told Automotive News. The question is when.
During the weeks of March 16 and 23, Suzuki plans to air commercials for the SX4 that call it mightier than the Mini. The spots, featuring the SX4 in a Superman-style cape, say the SX4 has more power and a better warranty than Mini at a lower price.
The base list price of the SX4 sedan is $13,994; the hatchback begins at $16,634. The Mini Cooper two-door hatchback starts at $19,200. All prices include shipping. Mini is a unit of BMW of North America LLC.
The SX4 spots are scheduled to run on such national cable networks as the Discovery Channel, VH1 and Animal Planet, along with local cable systems. Brown did not disclose the cost of the campaign, which also includes print and online ads.
Next month, Brown says, Suzuki may run commercials for the Grand Vitara if the company determines the small SUV needs a boost.
Tim Murphy, president of Suzukis ad agency, Siltanen & Partners, says the spots would assert that the Grand Vitara can meet the same needs as a larger, more expensive SUV. The base Grand Vitara lists for $19,249, including shipping.
The basic premise is that you can go anywhere or do anything you want in this compact SUV, Murphy says.
Brown says Suzuki will cut its spending to advertise in U.S. media during the fiscal year that begins April 1. From January through November 2008, Suzuki spent $80.9 million to advertise in U.S. media, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
Brown declined to disclose the size of Suzukis advertising budget, which is determined quarterly. He says the company can boost ad spending if the U.S. sales market recovers more quickly than expected.
The Holy Grail today is maintaining the flexibility to respond on a quarter-by-quarter basis, he says.
Last year, Suzuki sold 84,865 cars and trucks in the United States, down 16.7 percent from 2007.
A new mid-sized sport sedan based on Suzukis Kizashi 3 concept car likely will go on sale in the last three months of 2009, Brown says, depending on how market conditions evolve.