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GM going to church to sell cars?

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GM going to church to sell cars?

Go to church on Sunday, sell on Monday? Well, not exactly, but General Motors will bring along the cream of its crop this Sunday, April 18, to the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church near Detroit, Michigan. For those interested in seeing the next wave of green technology, the procession will include the 2011 Chevrolet Volt.

The event is being sponsored by GM Minority Suppliers and Dealers, and the automaker says the purpose of the shindig is "to build new relationships in the community and highlight the contribution of minority suppliers and dealers to the community and local economy."

We're not sure how common this sort of thing is with GM, let alone with other automakers, but we have to wonder if some won't find the event just a wee bit distasteful. That said, Reverend Dr. Charles G. Adams, pastor of the 10,000-member Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, says, "This is a wonderful opportunity to do something really special for Hartford church members. Something that has never been done at a church in Detroit."

Any who wants to know more or who are thinking of attending can find all the official details in the press release pasted after the break.



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GM goes to church in search of new customers

Robert Snell / The Detroit News

General Motors Co. is making a pulpit pit stop today as part of its accelerating quest to change perceptions among buyers, boost market share and reach new customers -- particularly minorities.

The automaker is holding a ride-and-drive event at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, one of Detroit's largest, allowing parishioners to test drive almost every Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicle in its lineup -- including the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric car.

GM is increasingly using grass-roots events nationwide to help recover from the harm of last year's bankruptcy, which damaged its reputation and sales. Certain events are tailored toward making inroads in minority communities in a relaxed environment free of showroom sales pitches.

In Los Angeles last year, GM courted Asians by holding an event at a dealership where prospective customers could see the new Chevrolet Camaro designed by a Korean, Sang Yup Lee, and eat Korean-Mexican tacos served out of a Kogi BBQ truck -- a popular roving restaurant that otherwise broadcasts its location via Twitter.

"Helping change the public's perception of our brands is really what this is about," said GM spokeswoman Carolyn Normandin. "This gives people a chance to experience vehicles firsthand, on their own terms."

On Friday, Normandin took Buicks to an area coffee shop and offered $5 coffee cards to people in exchange for spending a few minutes inside a Buick LaCrosse and hearing about its key attributes.

The ride-and-drive today also is aimed at spotlighting the jobs, scholarships and other contributions made in Detroit by GM minority suppliers and dealers, who are sponsoring the event. Safety experts also will be at the church to inspect child car seats.

"This is a wonderful opportunity to do something really special for Hartford church members -- something that has never been done at a church in Detroit," said the Rev. Charles Adams, pastor of Hartford Memorial. "Minority suppliers help to provide jobs and financial security for thousands of people in metropolitan Detroit."

But in this instance, a church might not be the best, or most effective, venue, said analyst Erich Merkle of Autoconomy.com in Grand Rapids.

"Folks see church as a place to worship -- it's not a car show," said Merkle. "Some may say, 'Bring it on in' because they have a vested interest in the auto industry because they're dealers or suppliers. But others may look at it as being not the right venue.

"The exposure for GM is going to be relatively small, I would think, so it's not going to have the multiplier effect you might get from other marketing activities."

GM could do a better job enhancing its social media activities, Merkle said.

Ford Motor Co., for example, does a better job harnessing the power of social media, he said.

Before Ford unveiled the 2011 Fiesta at the Los Angeles Auto Show late last year, it had waged a public campaign online called the Fiesta Movement.

The Dearborn automaker gave Ford Fiestas to about 100 people, who were required to shoot videos and tweet and blog about their experiences.

But GM said today's ride-and-drive event is a good opportunity to gain exposure for brands without requiring a large marketing budget. It can be especially important, Normandin said, in regions and states such as California, where domestic brands trail imports.

"We know some people have never been in GM products before, particularly for a division like Buick/GMC," she said. "We know one way to help people fall in love with our products is to get them into our products, get them exposed to it."

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100418/AUTO01/4180304/1148/GM-goes-to-church-in-search-of-new-customers#ixzz0lUQwCXim

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