Aston Martin Hits Road for New Models

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Aston Martin North America turns to direct mail to generate interest in a 30-city, four-week tour for its DB9 Coupe and DB9 Volante sports cars, both due in U.S. showrooms this summer.


The mailer dropped to current Aston Martin owners, handpicked prospects and automotive, lifestyle and local news media to introduce the new models in the "Driven to the 9's Tour."


"While Aston Martin's sales are small in number, they're looking to increase sales by large factors in the coming years with the DB9 and other models that are on the way," said Denise Soltys, president of S3, the Irvine, CA, and Boonton, NJ, agency on the Aston Martin account.


A British brand, Aston Martin is part of a Ford Motor Co. luxury portfolio that includes Land Rover and Jaguar. S3 has handled the Irvine, CA-based Aston Martin North America account since 2002.


The brand's May 6 to June 4 U.S. and Canada tour comes a year after it previewed the Aston Martin DB AR1 and DB7 GT cars in its "Power, Beauty and Soul Tour."


For its new tour, the consumer invitation is a two-sided flat card in a white envelope with hand-affixed postage. The front of the envelope shows the tour name and Aston Martin logo. The back indicates "exclusive invitation," asking recipients to "save the date."


The invitation is based on the tour's graphic scheme: silver and charcoal shades to conjure elegance and the signature launch color of the DB9 Coupe and DB9 Volante convertible. The mailer bears the Aston Martin wings logo alongside the tour name.


From late April to early May, 30 dealers are sending invitations directly to their own lists of current and prospective Aston Martin owners. Also, S3 gave each dealer involved in the tour a list of 150 prospects qualified based on criteria like ownership of specific competitive high-end luxury sports cars, household income, geographic proximity and lifestyle.


In a twist, the agency persuaded many of the publications Aston Martin advertises with to send invitations to select subscribers who fit the Aston Martin driver profile.


"Aston Martin obviously has many fans, but only a small market of highly affluent individuals are qualified to actually become owners," Soltys said. "By adding to dealer lists this way, we really help increase the exposure to that small but powerful set."


Mail recipients directly confirm their attendance to dealers, thus building a relationship for ongoing communications.


Meanwhile, the media invitations went to national and regional press, including automotive and affluent-lifestyle titles as well as local news media. The channels covered magazine, newspaper, online, television and radio.


Press invitees got a DHL overnight letter pack with a personalized invitation and news release, both on tour letterhead. They confirm their attendance by calling an S3-managed tour hotline number. The agency then sends an e-mail alert to dealers and Aston Martin.


"We wanted to get the DB9 seen by as many qualified prospects and press in the shortest time possible," Soltys said.


To enhance the excitement, S3 conceived mobile billboards -- two trucks that transport the cars for each leg of the tour. The trucks feature larger-than-life tour graphics, with angled shots of the car and the tour label.


The entire effort is unique in that two "Driven to the 9's" tours are going on at once, one on the East Coast and the other on the West Coast.


"Marketing and media strategies must work in tandem to maximize reach to the right, hard-to-reach set in a time when the high-end automotive marketplace is more competitive than ever," Soltys said.


Each event runs 3 to 8 p.m., most at the local Aston Martin dealer's showroom. A cocktail party, it features appetizers and champagne. Attendees get Aston Martini recipe cards. Customers placing a DB9 preorder get the recipe and an Aston Martini shaker.


Attendees, however, should not get too familiar with the cars.


"The DB9 Coupe and Volante are the stars of the show," Soltys said. "There is no driving."


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