GM Plans Advertising Blitz for New Minivans

Marketing initiatives for two new entries in the minivan market from General Motors Corp., the Saturn Relay and Buick Terraza, will begin this year and kick into overdrive in early 2005. Advertising for the Relay the first of four new Saturn models due to hit the market by late 2006 will lead the marketing blitz with appearances during the fourth quarter in 19 print titles, including Time, People,

Marketing initiatives for two new entries in the minivan market from General Motors Corp., the Saturn Relay and Buick Terraza, will begin this year and kick into overdrive in early 2005.

Advertising for the Relay — the first of four new Saturn models due to hit the market by late 2006 — will lead the marketing blitz with appearances during the fourth quarter in 19 print titles, including Time, People, Sports Illustrated, Newsweek and Parenting magazines, says Relay Marketing Manager Scott Horn.

Terraza's marketing push will trail the Relay's because Buick currently also is launching the LaCrosse sedan. The auto maker wants to stagger rather than overlap ad efforts.

Relay and Terraza models will be shipped to dealerships this month.

Inventories will be stockpiled during the fourth quarter and hit critical mass in January. Neither Saturn nor Buick officials will disclose sales projections for their first minivans. But Horn says Saturn has 50,000 “hand-raisers” for the Relay.

Saturn has been building consumer awareness during recent months via Relay promotional activities at Linens 'n' Things and Mervyns. There also is a Relay scavenger hunt online and a sponsorship of a DVD by The Wiggles, a children's musical group.

Dealers are getting in the act, too, by inviting customers to debut parties. Saturn retailers in Ohio rented the Columbus Zoo. Detroit area dealers leased the city's science center.

Buick will use a variety of marketing efforts to publicize the Terraza. But Buick won't play its trump card until early 2005 when the Terreza and LaCrosse will offer dual test-drive promotions to the public. There also will be a sweepstakes drawing that includes a round of golf with Buick pitchman Tiger Woods as the grand prize.

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