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Chevy Goes All Out for Games

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General Motors' Chev rolet division has pegged more than a quarter of this year's mar keting budget to the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games, said Kurt Ritter, the unit's general manager.

"We will have a presence that will rival and be right on par with Visa and Coca-Cola," Ritter said.

Chevy's "Olympic Torch Relay and Games" advertising is the largest marketing promotion the division has undertaken, he said.

While Chevy and overall GM marketing budgets have been reduced, the Olympics outlay is still huge. Chevrolet spent about $620 million on advertising in the first 10 months of 2001, according to CMR, and $820 million for 2000. Campbell-Ewald Advertising, Warren, Mich., is Chevy's lead agency.

Nine new TV spots, including three created specifically for the Olym pics, will break Feb. 8. All will pitch dependability, with car ads keeping the tagline, "We'll be there," and "Like a rock," ongoing for trucks.

All TV spots will close with a gold Chevy bow-tie emblem, which the division wants to make its standard logo instead of bow ties of different colors and dimensions, Ritter said.

During the competition, GM will also sponsor "Chev rolet Moments," a nightly series featuring the stories of the Olympic Games hosted by NBC's Bob Costas.

Research showed that the younger buyers Chevy is after are cynical about Olympic sponsorships, said Bill Ludwig, chief creative officer at Campbell-Ewald. "They want to know that you know that," he said. Towards that end, the tongue-in-cheek, Olympic-specific spots feature two overly enthus iastic Chevy representatives who are at the games to make sure the sponsorship gets the most attention.

In one spot, the pair slaps the backs of USA Hockey Team players taking the ice. The intention is not to wish the players well, but to slap them with gold Chevy bow-tie logo stickers.