GM Plans Fall Marketing Blitz for New GM Card

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General Motors Corp., Detroit, is preparing to promote the relaunch of the GM Card that will include the company's first direct response television effort for the credit card.


Five percent of all spending on the MasterCard is credited into an account for the purchase of a GM vehicle. Unlike the previous version of the credit card, which was introduced in 1992, the new card introduced in March allows consumers to accumulate money for several non-automotive products and services, such as hotel rooms, movie tickets and products available through the SkyMall catalog.


Mullen Advertising, Wenham, MA, is handling the components of the marketing campaign, which includes broadcast and cable TV, print, direct mail, telemarketing and Internet advertising. GM has a Web site dedicated to the card at www.gmcard.com and is promoting a toll-free phone number -- 800-8-GMCard -- to order the card.


According to Mary Kubitsky, communications manager at GM, the Detroit automaker would like to give DRTV a try, but it hasn't filmed the spots and is awaiting the outcome of the Screen Actors Guild strike.


The company dropped about 21 million direct mail pieces in March to promote the card and it has another 5 million-piece drop going out this month as part of the $35 million campaign, which is slowing down during the summer. Another large direct mail campaign is planned for September, when brand-oriented TV advertising will also pick up. The company is following up the mail pieces with telemarketing calls.


"Right now we're looking at anybody who would consider a GM vehicle, and GM makes a car for just about anybody, so we are casting the net quite large," Kubitsky said.


The company tested several formats and offers during the first mailing, including tests in which pieces that focused on the card were compared to pieces that focused on the vehicles.


"What we're trying to do is bring in all different kinds of people as cardmembers, but then maybe market to them differently once we have acquired them as cardmembers," Kubitsky said. "We are trying to move more to a segmented, or a one-to-one, marketing model rather than mass marketing, and we'll hopefully better manage that once we get them cards. We want to be able to start identifying individual needs and address them on an individual basis."


She said it was too soon to reach any conclusions based on the first mailing, although she said the initial response appears to be good. The results from the spring mailing will help to refine the September effort, which will have fewer test cells, Kubitsky said.


The telemarketing effort has generated a stronger response than the company anticipated, said Kubitsky, who noted that the company would be "a little more aggressive" with its outbound calling efforts this summer.


She said GM plans to test DRTV spots -- assuming the SAG strike ends -- in two large markets, which she said would not be selected until later this summer. The spots would be 60 seconds long -- twice as long as its current, brand-oriented TV commercials. The proposed spots would focus on the card's attributes and include an immediate call-to-action, probably listing both the Web address and the toll-free number, she said.


"The TV ads have been more brand-focused, rather than being direct response acquisition for the new product, and that's what we're going to test with the new ads in just the test markets, and run the brand stuff nationwide," Kubitsky said.

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