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Infiniti to toot own horn with ad campaign...

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Link: http://www.autoweek.com/news.cms?newsId=103080

Infiniti to toot own horn with ad campaign designed to build brand recognition
KATHY JACKSON | Automotive News
Posted Date: 9/1/05

SAN FRANCISCO - Infiniti is ready to toot its horn a little louder.

With sales up 6.9 percent this year, and after a successful launch of its M car, Nissan's luxury division will begin a media brand campaign in mid-September.

Scott Fessenden, director of Infiniti marketing, says the campaign will tout the brand's attributes, such as good design and technology including all-wheel-drive and lane-departure warnings.

"We want people to understand more about the Infiniti brand," Fessenden says. "We want people to say, 'I want to drive an Infiniti,' and then come in a pick out a nameplate. You can't honestly tout a brand unless you have a legitimate stable of vehicles under it."

Infiniti sold 130,986 vehicles in 2004, up 10.4 percent from 2003. In 2001, Infiniti sold 71,365 vehicles. With sales of 79,819 through July, the division is on track to beat last year's sales.

But Infiniti is looking at more than sales numbers. It wants to sell vehicles costing more than $40,000 in respectable numbers so the brand can legitimately challenge other luxury brands.

The redesigned Infiniti M cars, which went on sale in January, are a solid step forward. The company hoped to sell 20,000 this year. Through July, dealers sold 12,261, compared with 1,315 during the year-ago period.

"The perception that they're the fire-sale brand has been laid to rest," says Dan Gorrell, vice president of Strategic Vision in Tustin, Calif. "But one area that still needs work is the flagship, and sales reflect that."

Infiniti's top-of-the-line nameplate, the Q45, had only 768 sales in the first seven months of the year, compared with 1,169 in the same period last year. Infiniti's best seller, the G35, sold 41,165 units through July 2005 versus 41,863 in the same period of 2004.

Fessenden said the brand campaign will consist of 30- and 60-second TV commercials. There also will be newspaper, Web site and outdoor ads. He would not disclose the budget for the campaign.

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