IQ News: What’s Olds Is New Again: Alero To Launch Online

Oldsmobile, the car division that has been the most aggressive among the General Motors units about marketing on the Internet, is now preparing to make online media the starting point, and centerpiece, of its media blitz to launch its sporty new model, the Oldsmobile Alero.
The car’s online campaign will also bring the Internet further into the sales loop than it ever has been before. Oldsmobile is planning to make an Alero test drive just a click away for prospective buyers, who will have an Alero driven to their home just by requesting a test drive off the Web. At press time, logistics of the plan had not been finalized.
The online campaign, created by Leo Burnett unit Giant Step, Chicago, will probably break in July as part of a total launch budget of $80 million. Oldsmobile would not divulge the budget for the Internet launch, but it is believed to be in the millions of dollars.
“I think this will be ten-fold more effective than any other launch we’ve ever done,” said Debbie Craig, interactive marketing manager at Olds. “You’re going to be able to go through the entire purchase funnel online.”
Priced as low as $17,500, the Alero is Olds’ youngest skewing model targeted toward more sophisticated 35- to 45-year-olds. The online campaign is expected to consist of banners and larger online ad units placed on various sites to introduce the model to casual surfers. These ads will link to, which has already been launched, plus flash a message about registering for a test drive to be delivered to a would-be customer’s doorstep, perhaps by a local Olds dealer or car rental company. Eventually, Olds will target prospective buyers.
Delivering test rides directly to customers’ homes is a new convention among car makers, especially with higher priced models. The purpose is to minimize customer contact with pushy car dealers. There are no plans to sell the car off, Craig said.
Detroit-based GM has aggressively targeted the Internet to help it sell cars. Its GM Buy Power program began in October, enabling car buyers in California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho to buy cars directly online from participating dealers’ inventories. Eventually, the program is supposed to be rolled out nationally. By the fall, consumers will be able to purchase the Alero either through the Buy Power program or through other online car sellers such as Microsoft’s CarPoint and Auto-By-Tel.