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Buick hopes 'Truth' site will set it free, help launch Regal

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Buick hopes 'Truth' site will set it free, help launch Regal

Chrissie Thompson

Automotive News -- June 21, 2010 - 12:01 am ET

DETROIT -- Call it the Fiesta Movement for grown-ups.

To help launch the 2011 Regal sedan, Buick will host a social media Web site with videos from buyers supplied with flip cameras, just like Ford's campaign for the youth-oriented Fiesta small car.

But the Regal site will feature reviews, not the playful commercials and local coming-out parties that characterize the Fiesta Movement. Buick will post all articles written about the Regal, even if they're unflattering, and visitors can post any comments they want, Buick's top marketer says.

The site, called "Buick's Moment of Truth," is part of the brand's efforts to remake its image -- tarnished in some parts of the United States and nonexistent in others because of years of unappealing products and shrinking sales. Buick marketers' willingness to post bad press shows the brand is ready to take unusual risks to rebuild credibility.

When Buick tested marketing plans for the Regal, the candor behind "Moment of Truth" impressed consumers, says John Schwegman, U.S. marketing chief for Buick-GMC.

"It came across as a very positive thing to be that open and that transparent in an age that people are mad at bailouts, people are mad at big corporate America," Schwegman says.

Buick will retain negative comments that visitors leave online, he says. That has been done before. For instance, the Fiesta Facebook site contains several negative comments about delivery delays of the new small car.

But if Buick's marketers follow through and post unflattering press about the Regal on the site, they expand automakers' use of social media, says Jon Schulz, senior vice president and head of global automotive at Specific Media in Irvine, Calif.

"I know the automakers want to get involved in this, but the moment it gets negative, [they say] the risks kind of outweigh the benefits," says Schulz, who was head of digital marketing at Ford Motor Co. when he left in 2008. "They're willing to take some more chances here because it's not necessarily a strong market for the Buick brand."

Buick's 89 percent decline in annual sales since its peak in 1984 has left many Americans clueless about the brand's product lineup. When Buick tested Regal ads on consumers from Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles, the toughest crowd was in Chicago, Schwegman says.

The reason? Buick had sold relatively well in the Midwest, so those buyers had seen old Buicks on the street and therefore had more negative impressions, he says.

In contrast, West Coast consumers said, " 'I don't have a perception other than I think they're pretty good in quality,' " says Schwegman, referring to Buick's No. 1 ranking in J.D. Power and Associates' Vehicle Dependability Study in 2009 and its third-place finish this year. " 'I don't know if they've built a vehicle for me, so tell me more.' "

Buick plans to launch marketing for the Regal in early July, followed by the "Moment of Truth" site later in the month.

Ads will emphasize interior and exterior photography and pricing since people need to see what a Buick looks like and costs these days, Schwegman says.

"Some of them say, 'This car is probably $35,000 or more,' " he says. "It's not that we want to talk about price and deal, but [they're saying] 'I need that frame of reference.' "

The Regal, a lightly reworked version of the Opel Insignia, is aimed at buyers 35 to 40 who value a sporty ride, perhaps as an alternative to their family vehicle.

The 2011 Regal, which went on sale last month, comes only in the CXL premium trim level and starts at $26,995, including the delivery charge. The company has said the base 2012 Regal will have a lower price and fewer standard features.

TRUTH SERUM

Buick will market the 2011 Regal on a new Web site, "Buick's Moment of Truth," using

• Flip-cam testimonials from early buyers

• All articles written about the Regal, good and bad

• Self-posted customer reviews, good and bad

Source: Buick

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20100621/RETAIL03/306219992/1430#ixzz0rUVbPt3k

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GM Attempts to Redefine Buick Brand Via Partying

June 20, 2010

- Elaine Wong

Buick is trying to shed its image as a stodgy, driven-by-your-grandparents vehicle brand with a series of “remix” parties taking place in five U.S. cities.

The events, called “Regal Remix” get-togethers, promote the automaker’s new mid-sized car introduction, the Buick Regal 2011—which is in dealerships right now—and kick off in cities like Chicago, Philadelphia and Miami. (The most recent party took place last week in San Antonio’s historic Sunset Station.) The effort is part of the General Motors brand’s foray into the mid-sized and compact luxury car market, a segment in which it’s had a minimal presence. GM, too, is trying to position Buick to appeal to younger, affluent consumers who typically buy imported cars.

GM describes the parties (which typically have about 500-plus guests) as “low pressure” affairs in prominent venues designed to generate buzz for its Buicks, namely the Regal 2011, LaCrosse and Enclave.

Buick product marketing director Roger McCormack said that for younger consumers, Buick is a blank slate. Such consumers “may have a sense for what Buick stood for in the past,” but have only “a vague sense of what [the brand] stands for or what it is today.”

To help redefine its image, Buick tapped PR firm Cohn & Wolfe and Thrillist—a daily e-mail newsletter targeted at trendsetting urban males in major metropolitan cities—to spread the word. An online video clip showing highlights from a May Dallas “remix” party shows consumers sipping cocktails, listening to music, checking out the new Buicks and changing their perceptions in between. Said one attendee: “I thought it was a BMW when I walked up to it. So, it’s beautiful, beautiful.” Added another: “It definitely rocked my understanding of what a Buick is,” he said with a wink and a thumbs up.

link:

http://www.brandweek.com/bw/content_display/news-and-features/automotive-travel/e3ic0c203644bbc3d5f3125d0d2b6b4330d?pn=1

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Buick's 89 percent decline in annual sales since its peak in 1984

Nice. Good thing GM got rid of all those other brands, and keeps pouring money into Buick.

Did somebody say... party?? Woohoo.

0907_01_z+pontiac_aztek+front_three_quarter_view.jpg

Wow, it has 185 hp! Look at the Excitement!!! on those people's faces for the 185 hp.

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