General Motors will advertise its heavy-duty pickups on national TV for the first time this fall with spots from Lowe Lintas & Partners in an effort to broaden the appeal for trucks, which previously had been targeted mainly at a working audience.
GM isn't alone in making bigger stars out of its beefiest pickups. Ford Motor Co. already has broadened the marketing for its so-called Super Duty pickups, advertising them in publications like Sports Illustrated and This Old House after years of relegating them to construction trade journals.
Trucks are classified as heavy-duty when they top 8,400 pounds gross vehicle weight. Traditionally, those trucks were seen only on construction sites.
But that's changing, said Jim Kornas, GMC Sierra brand manager. The pickup segment grew 12 percent in 1999 over 1998, with the growth coming from the larger cab, larger displacement pickups, he said.
"We're probably going to sell 2 million pickups again in 2000, and 600,000-700,000 are classified as heavy-duty," Kornas said. "It's not a niche business any more."
GMC still is working on its heavy-duty plan for cable TV and magazines, but both will be more mainstream for the 2001 model year. The network TV spots, also still in development, will feature prime time plays during shows like Nash Bridges or 20/20 as well as late night news, he said. The brand also will hone a relationship with franchised home builder Michael Holligan and use other aspects of the home life corridor for the big pickups.
Ford still is unapologetically targeting its workhorse customer but has expanded the brand into areas that both delight its core customer and draw mass market appeal. That's because about 35 percent of the heavy-duty pickup buyers now are using their Ford pickup at least partially for family needs or buying it strictly as a personal vehicle, said Lew Echlin, Ford Super Duty marketing manager. K