General Motors has given Campbell-Ewald Advertising responsibility for the direct mail portion of what the automaker is calling its largest incentive effort directed at current GM vehicle owners.
Hoping to boost the automaker's faltering market share, GM's marketing and advertising department has put together an incentive reward program called Loyalty First. Rebate offers are being sent to original owners who still have GM vehicles from model years 1986 to 1998. In those years, GM sold about 60 million vehicles, although the company declined to reveal how many rebate offers are going out.
Warren, Mich.-based Campbell-Ewald was selected from GM's roster of agencies to handle the immense direct mail campaign because "they were in the best position with their direct mail capabilities and database expertise to get the program turned around quickly," said GM representative Donna Fontana. Agency officials declined comment.
The direct mail piece consists of a letter from GM North American Operations president Rick Wagoner thanking customers for their loyalty and offering a $500 or $1,000 (for high-end models) rebate if they buy another GM vehicle.
"One of GM's marketing goals is to keep people within the GM family," Fontana said. "This would help [current customers] to move within the GM portfolio of brands."
The program covers lease holders, but does not include Saturn owners, and the rebates can't be used on Saturn models.
While GM corporate coffers are covering the cost of the mailing, funding of the rebates that are redeemed will come out of marketing budgets, Fontana said. "This is within the normal marketing incentive budget," she said.
Sources said the marketing budgets of the GM brands involved--Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Oldsmobile and Pontiac--will cover the cost of the rebates. That has created some concern among GM divisions and their agencies that, depending on rebate-induced sales, certain brands' marketing budgets could be hit harder than others and be depleted, according to sources.
But Fontana said the program has been planned and expenditures will not be "in lieu of anything else."