Tuesday, April 1, 2014

GM Brands Use Grannies and an Updated Logo to Shift Perception

I like a confident brand that isn't afraid to poke fun at itself. As reported in Ad Age, Buick introduced a new TV spot this week that will try to convince consumers once again that its vehicles aren't made for the blue-haired set. But this time it will enlist the help of a few Grannies. Buick is tapping one of its biggest advertising platforms of the year, the NCAA men's basketball tournament, to air the spot from agency Leo Burnett Detroit, which began running last Thursday, during the “Sweet 16” games.

They’re smart to continuing using sports platforms. I leased a ’98 Buick Regal GS after seeing one displayed at a golf tournament here in Tampa Bay. I hadn't been looking at Buick, but after getting a close look at the car, then driving one, I made the switch from Japanese product to my first new GM car.

With a 5-model lineup that is probably their best in years in terms of quality and style – all sharing that distinctive shark’s mouth grill – I’d say I’d say Buick has its best chance in years of appealing to younger buyers. They won't crack the millennial market. Leave that to Chevy. They will, however, appeal to buyers in the 35-plus range.

Cadillac Loses the Wreath
Another GM brand trying to appeal to a younger buyer profile is Cadillac. Here's another marque with a problem. They've always been synonymous with luxury, they've always been powerful, but they too tend to have an older buyer profile. Recently they gave the Cadillac logo a little makeover, losing the wreath and making the crest lower, leaner and meaner - kind of like the new styling of the cars. Will this appeal to a younger buyer? No.
You have to look at the whole package. I do't think it will have much impact, but at least it will make the logo more consistent with their current styling.

Overshadowing both of these brands, and the others in GM's stable, is the current recall crisis. A real test for new GM CEO Mary Barra (see previous post). Some very good marketing and creative work here could be nullified by bad press and a drastic decline in consumer confidence. We'll see how that plays out.

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