GM Has Loyalty Doubts

Strike Causing Misconception of Car Drought
DETROIT–Worried about waning brand loyalty due to its lingering strike, General Motors is preparing a direct mail campaign to ask existing consumers to stay within the GM family despite a halt in production.
Phil Guarascio, vice president and general manager for marketing and advertising at GM, acknowledged the company is concerned about regaining lost sales momentum disrupted by the 2-month-old strike. But aside from a TV spot that broke last week from Buick agency McCann-Erickson in Troy, Mich., no other communications effort had been planned, he said.
C-E Communications in Warren, Mich., however, is preparing a direct mail effort that will take the form of a letter to consumers from GM executives, said sources.
One version under consideration would seek to reassure owners who have come to the end of their car leases that GM still has new vehicles available for trade-ins. The mailing is contingent on the length of the strike. C-E officials could not be reached for comment.
McCann’s spot carries the message, “General Motors. Lots of cars. Lots of trucks. Lots of deals,” to dispel a misconception that the car maker has no inventory left. The agency got the assignment because “McCann had done all the background and was aggressive,” Guarascio said. “This is one of the most elegant pieces of advertising you’ve seen in this genre in a long time.”
Separately, GM’s Oldsmobile division is going ahead with the launch of its Silhouette Premiere minivan with a 60-second spot that broke in movie theaters over the weekend [Adweek, June 22]. The ad uses clips from classic films to tout the Premiere’s videocassette player and viewing screen. A TV and print campaign, from Leo Burnett in Chicago, is planned for September.
While Saturn workers may join the strike, it is not likely to have an effect on that brand’s advertising, although ads from Publicis & Hal Riney have focused on workers’ job satisfaction. The campaign is “driven from the core values and consumer propositions,” Guarascio said.