Buick, Airline Team for Promo

Buick has partnered with Northwest Airlines for a national promotion that offers free airline tickets to LeSabre buyers.

It’s thought to be the first time a General Motors division has partnered with an airline for a national promotion, said Marcus Vinson, Buick LeSabre assistant brand manager. It is the first time Northwest has partnered with an automaker.

Consumers who buy an OnStar-equipped 2001 Buick LeSabre during March will receive two round trip airline tickets to anywhere in the U.S., Canada or the Caribbean. Tickets may be used together or separately and are transferable. The airline tickets are in addition to an existing offer of $1,000 cash back on LeSabre.

McCann-Erickson Worldwide, Troy, Mich., Buick’s national agency, with promotions shop Momentum Detroit, teamed on a campaign backing the promo that breaks March 1. TV, print, Internet and dealer promotional materials are part of the campaign.

A 30-second TV spot from McCann will air on national prime time network shows as well as cable. It shows passengers in a Buick LeSabre that appears to be in stop-and-go traffic. At the end, the Onstar concierge comes on through the system to say “Mr. Johnson, your runway is ready” and the camera pulls back to reveal the car is actually on an airport runway surrounded by Northwest planes.

McCann is producing 13 versions of the spot, substituting different voiceovers for the concierge so the ads have more of a local feel to them, Vinson said.

OnStar is only available on the two high-end LeSabre models. It uses a satellite technology to link the vehicle to the OnStar Center.

Vinson de-clined to specify spending on the promotion. GM spent about $80 million on measured media for the Buick LeSabre from 1999 and about $40 million in January through October of 2000, according to Competitive Media Reporting.