DETROIT -- You know the song.
That catchy, almost circus-like tune Buick has been using as the backdrop for its "That's a Buick?" ad campaign for more than a year.
While it puts a playful spin on Buick spots designed to make the brand more approachable, the song also has the serious task of making the campaign stand out in the cluttered world of auto advertising.
Tony DiSalle, U.S. vice president of Buick and GMC marketing, calls the song a bit of brand equity that helps Buick's message break through.
DiSalle says Buick still has plenty of walls to knock down when it comes to perceptions that its vehicles are outdated cruisers for senior citizens, so the reintroduction phase of the Buick campaign will continue for the foreseeable future. But the messaging will evolve from simply showing the models to pitching 24-hour test drives or highlighting features such as in-vehicle Wi-Fi.
DiSalle sat down with Staff Reporter Vince Bond Jr. last month at General Motors headquarters here to talk about Buick's brand identity and the next phase of GMC advertising.
Q: What is Buick's brand identity these days?
A: Buick is clearly established as a premium brand. That's consistent with its heritage. We like to play in the upper end of mainstream and the lower end of luxury. It gives us some white space. There isn't necessarily a defined premium segment in this market, but it allows us to bring a value proposition to the luxury business.
Why has the "That's a Buick?" campaign resonated?
It's so down-to-earth. It's extraordinarily honest. It's driven off of a singular consumer insight and the reality that there is false familiarity out in the marketplace. A lot of people misperceive Buicks to be outdated in terms of their designs and not necessarily relevant to [them]. "It's for older people, it's not for me." We saw that with crystal clarity. When you have a consumer insight that is that precise, it makes it a little bit easier to focus on.
The Buick brand has been around for over 100 years, so was it challenging to reintroduce it?
The good news in terms of the history of Buick and the fact that it is over 100 years old is there is a lot of unaided awareness of the Buick brand. The interesting part was just converting that awareness to a knowledge or understanding of what today's Buick products really are and what they bring. It wasn't like we had to invest a ton of money to put this brand on the map. ... In a way, that made it a little bit easier just converting their mindset to what the product brings today.
Is the brand-reintroduction part of the current campaign over?
There are still so many consumers where we still have to bring our message to, and that job is not done.
It takes a long time to adequately convey what we want to convey to the consumer base in the United States, especially in areas where we haven't had a lot of density from a sales performance standpoint.
In places like California, for example, there is a lot of messaging that needs to be done.