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  • Writer's pictureBob Salmasi

Loyalty Partnership Stories - General Motors

I once worked on a brief from General Motors North American Vehicles who were looking to appoint an agency to promote and sell it's range of vehicles in the UK. The range consisted of Corvette, Camaro, Blazer and Cadillac.

The challenge was that they were only stocked in 11 dealers up and down the country and that only two of the models Blazer and Cadillac were available in right hand drive.

So I developed a strategy that focussed on local dealer marketing, making sure every pound we spent engaged customers within a reasonable drive time from each dealer. We convinced the client that the budget was best spent on this focus and that we would build local and national awareness through partnerships rather than media spend.

Blazer was a four wheel drive vehicle, so we looked at the sort of aspirational things that potential customers might like to tow. With that in mind I headed off to The London Boat Show for inspiration. The partnership "stars" aligned that day as I came across a stand with a newly designed boat called a Clam Boat. It was from memory a 14ft boat with built in wheels that can be folded in half and towed. It could also be stored in your garage upright in about 4ft square of space.

Shortly after the show, the Clam Boat Roadshow was born. We created a GM dealer road show where each dealer created and publicised a Clam Boat event where customers could come in see the Blazer and the Clam Boat side by side and enter a draw to actually win a Clam Boat. In addition they would also get a Chevy Blazer for a year to tow it with.

Clam Boat were also exhibiting at a number of boat shows during the same period so we loaned them a Chevy Blazer to trail their boats and ran a reciprocal prize draw where customers coming on to their stand could win a Blazer for a year - ensuring boating enthusiasts would see Chevy Blazer as a potential future 4x4 purchase for their existing boating needs.

Cadillac was the next vehicle we focussed on and when we test drove it we noticed that the boot had been designed with the ability to store four fully loaded golf bags and their players comfortably on-board. So I set off again to find a golf partner and ended up in the offices of Nevada Bob's.

Nevada Bob loved the fact that there was an actual sticker in the boot of the car to show you how you could comfortably store four sets of clubs and offered GM the opportunity of featuring in their Christmas in-store and direct marketing campaign - putting us right in the seat spot of the target audience we were trying to reach.

In return for the exposure we created a V.I.P. prize draw element for the campaign. Allowing Nevada Bob's customers to win a chauffeur driven Cadillac day out to a prestigious golf club of their choice, where they would enjoy a complimentary round of golf, lunch and at the end of the day be dropped off back home with their final gift a complimentary Cadillac branded set of golf clubs.

Whilst these partnerships generated dealer visits and test drives, we also new that these vehicles would be of interest to anyone who had experienced driving them in the US. So we look to see if we could partner with a car hire company in the US that would be able to give us details of customers from the UK who had rented a Cadillac or Blazer during their visit to America.

Having secured the car rental partner and mapped the prospects to each dealer, we then looked to create a call to action that would make them come in for a test drive. We settled on designing a direct marketing piece that informed them that Cadillac's and Blazer's were now available in the UK, in right hand drive and there was a dealer in close proximity to them. In order to ensure we grabbed their attention, there was also the chance to win a trip to the otherwise of the world, curtesy of Cathay Pacific Airlines.

The partnership with Cathay Pacific Airlines made perfect sense as we were talking to primarily business travellers who liked prestigious automotive brands and had a high propensity to turn left when boarding a plane.

Clearly, whilst all of these tactical partnership based campaigns drove dealer visits and test drives, we also need to secure national awareness during a second key trading period. So we approached Blockbuster Video at a time when they were looking for a "hero" prize partner for their Easter promotional campaign. At the time Blockbuster had in excess of five million active customers - so not only did we get massive above the line and in-store brand awareness, but we were heavily featured in their member comms over a 6-8 week promotional period in over 800 stores nationwide.

As a direct result of this focused approach, partners and activity. GM North American Vehicles sold substantially more vehicles from its 11 dealer network than in any of the previous years.

The only non-partnership based activity we did in the whole year was a small DM piece targeting specific professionals e.g. doctors, dentists, lawyers etc. Who were they key audience for Corvette and Camaro.

Your fastest business decision ever? A small DM piece aimed at stimulating the "heart" rather than the "head" - although of course the minute they got to the dealership they also experienced the full range including Cadillac and Blazer.

All in all one of the best and fun partnership driven strategies that I have delivered.



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