DEL MAR, Calif. -- GMC is planning a broad advertising campaign next year, an effort by General Motors to raise the profile of its successful, under-the-radar truck brand.
Duncan Aldred, U.S. vice president in charge of GMC and Buick, said he is working with ad agency Leo Burnett on a "big umbrella campaign" that will showcase GMC as a brand that stands for premium, refined trucks. Follow-on spots will feature individual vehicle lines using the same creative theme.
Aldred believes the campaign will help GMC attract more non-GM buyers and speed its growth. GMC sales rose 10 percent through September, the strongest performance of GM's four brands.
Aldred is pleased with the advertising to support the launch of the redesigned Sierra pickup during the past year, which included one spot that likened the truck's steel bed to the material used in the hulls of submarines.
"But it's not really breakthrough messaging," said Aldred, 44, a native of northwest England who took the Buick-GMC job after running GM's Vauxhall brand.
"We've got to evolve that into something that builds the brand itself," he said here last month during a media test drive of the 2015 GMC Canyon midsize pickup. "The hard bit is breaking through and getting people to recognize it."
The campaign will include a spotlight on GMC's fast-growing, upscale Denali subbrand, which commands luxury prices and draws young, affluent buyers. GMC has relied largely on word-of-mouth advertising from loyal customers to fuel the growth of Denali, which accounted for about 20 percent of GMC's 450,901 vehicle sales last year.
Aldred said GMC's advertising spending would rise next year but said he couldn't quantify the increase. He said it would be the first brand-themed campaign from GMC in many years and underscores the enthusiasm that GM's new leadership team has for GMC, which doesn't get the attention of Chevrolet or Cadillac despite solid profit margins and a strong brand identity.
"There's a will within the company to say, 'Hey, let's see where we can go with GMC,' both short term and longer term," he said.
GM President Dan Ammann echoed that sentiment this month during a presentation to investors and financial analysts.
"We talk much less than we should, frankly, when we talk about Buick and GMC," Ammann said, calling them "huge profit contributors."
"We will be investing significantly in these brands to continue the momentum they have," he said.
Aldred said he would like to pattern the GMC campaign after Buick's ongoing campaign, which is running individual vehicle spots following a brand-themed commercial that ran last spring.
But unlike Buick's messaging, which tries to reverse consumers' notions of Buick as an old person's car, the GMC campaign will aim to accentuate the brand's already well-defined attributes as "bold, precisely crafted, a cut above," Aldred said.
"I've got a different job to do with GMC," he said. "I'm not trying to fix anything. I'm just trying to build on it."