Mullen Readies GM/CUV Push

Mullen is preparing to unveil a refocused national campaign supporting General Motors’ Certified Used Vehicles.

The Wenham, Mass.-based 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 around $20 million—double last year’s expenditure—with the upcoming push marking GM’s most concerted effort yet to establish the CUV program in the national consciousness, sources said.

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 in crease in 2002, sources said. GM has decided to make a big push now based on last year’s overall softness in the new auto market and the continued shaky economy; given those parameters, plus the CUV program’s increased popularity last year, the client believes 2002 may be the year used-car sales soar, sources said.

The new ads retain the tagline, “The right way. The right car,” introduced by Mullen last fall. Mullen executives declined to discuss details of the push, referring queries to GM, where representatives declined comment.

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

The upcoming ads represent the latest attempt by agency and client to energize the CUV program, which had been slow to catch on before last year’s sales spurt. The program launched in the late 1990s, backed by ads tagged, “Ready for life.” At the time, some believed there were too few dealers signed up and not enough vehicles available. Initial ads were 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.