LOS ANGELES — After shunning broadcast advertising for most of the first quarter, American Suzuki Motor Corp. returned to TV last week with commercials for the SX4 small sedan and hatchback.
Gene Brown, Suzuki's marketing vice president, said the company ran no TV spots during nine of the first 11 weeks of 2009. He said Suzuki wanted to save money during a slow sales period.
"Everyone has to conserve cash," Brown told Automotive News. "The question is when."
Last week and this week, the plan called for SX4 commercials describing the vehicle as "mightier than the Mini." The spots, featuring the SX4 in a Superman-style cape, say the car has more power and a better warranty than the 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.
The SX4 spots are scheduled on national and local cable channels. Brown did not disclose the cost of the campaign, which also includes print and online ads.
Next month, Brown said, Suzuki may run commercials for the Grand Vitara if the company determines that the small SUV needs a boost.
Tim Murphy, president of Suzuki's ad agency, Siltanen & Partners, says the spots would assert that the Grand Vitara can meet the same needs as a larger and more expensive SUV. The base Grand Vitara lists for $19,249, including shipping.
Brown said Suzuki will cut its spending on 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 Suzuki's advertising budget, which is determined quarterly. He said the company can boost ad spending if the U.S. sales market recovers more quickly than expected.