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GM Refocuses on Used Vehicles

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Mullen is preparing to unveil a revamped national campaign supporting General Motors' Certified Used Vehicles.

The Wenham, Mass., agency will break print and radio ads in early June, with TV under consideration for a rollout later this year, sources said. Spending may be as high as $20 million, with the up coming push marking GM's most concerted effort yet to establish the CUV program in the national consciousness.

The Detroit car maker saw its used-vehicle sales triple to more than 100,000 last year, and it is looking for Mullen's ads to drive a similar increase in 2002, sources said.

The new round of ads will retain the tagline, "The right way. The right car," introduced by Mullen in a campaign that broke last fall. Mullen executives declined to discuss details of the push, referring queries to GM, where a company representative declined comment.

The imagery in the work will evolve to reflect a new emphasis on "The real benefit of owning a CUV," which will become the major subtheme of the campaign, sources said. In last year's ads, graphics included trunk lids and tailgates with headlines touting the program's services and guarantees.

The new campaign will represent the latest attempt by agency and client to energize the CUV program, which had been slow to catch on be fore last year's sales spurt. The program launched in the late 1990s, backed by ads tagged, "Ready for life."

The initial campaign was introduced under former GM marketing chief Ron Zarrella, whom some dealers found to be unsympathetic to their concerns about the CUV program, sources said.

Now, under William Lovejoy, GM group vp for North America vehicle sales, service and marketing, dealer concerns and input have been taken into consideration, and more than 55 percent of the dealer body is enrolled in the program, according to sources.

Annual spending on the CUV program fell from more than $20 million in 1997 to less than $2 million in 2000, according to CMR. Last year, however, spending rose to more than $10 million.