GM Goes to Montana




Pontiac Minivan Drops Trans Sport Name
DETROIT–General Motors’ Pontiac-GMC division is retiring the Trans Sport name and adopting Montana as the sole brand for all versions of its minivan.
The Montana moniker was introduced in January 1997 as the upscale edition of the Trans Sport. Its brand recognition has tested so well with consumers that GM decided to make the switch, said Kevin Boyle, brand marketing partner at Pontiac agency D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Troy, Mich.
“A lot of the research showed that the Trans Sport name wasn’t working as hard as it could be,” Boyle said. “While the Trans Sport name was associated with the old design, Pontiac wanted to move it forward. And then there was confusion in the marketplace between the Trans Sport and the Montana.”
Demand for the upscale Montana package was much higher than GM expected: about 70 percent of Trans Sport sales. Now, both the upscale and base versions will carry the same name.
“Montana is one of the higher brands within GM’s portfolio as far as awareness and familiarity,” Boyle said. “The campaign is definitely working.”
Two new 30-second TV spots for the ’99 model Pontiac Montana are scheduled to break in January. Both continue the cowboy and Western imagery and dry humor used in earlier spots. “Life is more exciting in Montana” remains the tagline. Character actor Charles Napier takes over voiceover duties from the late Robert Mitchum.
Current ads still advertise the Trans Sport since dealers have remaining inventory with the name.