Buick Puts a Tiger in Its Tank

GM Hopes Golfer’s Appeal Will Help Expand Its Consumer Base
DETROIT–A Buick campaign breaking in February will feature the General Motors division’s latest celebrity pitchman, golfer Tiger Woods.
McCann-Erickson, Troy, Mich., Buick’s national agency, shot four TV spots for the campaign last week in Southern California.
The multiyear sponsorship agreement with Woods, the reigning Buick Invitational champion, involves global rights for GM and Buick to advertising, promotions and personal appearances, and extends beyond the Buick brand. Woods’ golf bag will feature the Buick logo in U.S. tournaments, and will be tailored to other GM marquees overseas, such as Opel in Germany. The 23-year-old will also star in overseas ads for other GM products.
Buick’s sponsorship of the PGA Tour is now in its fifth decade. Signing Woods, a wildly popular athlete, helps the division broaden its audience appeal and should attract new customers to Buick, said Tony Derhake, Buick golf brand manager.
Buick already sponsors Tour professionals Ben Crenshaw, Steve Elkington, Chip Beck and David Berganio Jr., several of whom have appeared in past Buick TV spots.
The four Woods ads break in February during the Buick Invitational, said John Wray, a McCann representative. They are set to air during golf programming throughout the spring, although nongolf media buys are under consideration.
The campaign will also include a print component featuring Woods.
The tone will be “fun and lighthearted,” Wray said, much in the same vein as recent campaigns featuring Buick-sponsored golfers. Wray would not discuss specific creative, but he did say Woods will act and have dialogue in the spots.
Woods has “universal appeal,” Wray said. Buick executives hope the sponsorship will help draw customers beyond the older white males who are the biggest buyers of the brand. Woods should be able to do so without alienating those buyers, Wray said.
Buick spent about $230 million on measured media advertising in 1998, according to Competitive Media Reporting. The figure through the first eight months of 1999 was already $238 million, per CMR.