The Little Campaign That Could. Or Couldn’t?

Has Buick been labeled an old-man car company for so long that they dug themselves a hole from which they can't drive out?

Charlotte marketing agency

When you think Buick, you picture your grandpa or dad’s old car that holds memories of you as a kid. GM is trying to change that. With the launch of their Experience the New Buick campaign in 2014, Buick is addressing the public’s opinion of “old man car” and attempting to alter that perception through humor by means of the tagline “Is that a Buick?

But is it working?

When you hear “Buick” do you now think hip, new car? With the latest commercial for the 2017 Envision, there is a clear target on young families. However, I personally have yet to see a “young family” drive a Buick. In fact, I had to look up the logo of Buick to make sure. The commercials are light and funny, highlighting young people in fun environments, with trendy/upbeat music. All the ingredients for a Millennial home run. Granted, it has been proven that sales for Buick have risen since 2014, and there’s no denying that there’s a link from the increase to the campaign. In the initial launch year, sales were up by 12%, and 3% in 2015. Just this past Super Bowl, Buick rolled out a commercial featuring NY Giant’s Odell Beckham Jr. and hopefully sales will reflect the success of that cost.

So given these perception shifts, the question is no longer “is that a Buick,” but rather “what’s next for Buick?” Some think that this campaign is only hurting Buick.  Once you poke fun of your image, it’s a slippery slope if the campaign is not a success. Admittedly sales are still up, but are they up enough?

As a Charlotte marketing agency, it is always refreshing to see companies take risks with their campaign strategies. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always pay off. Was it a bad strategy? Has Buick been labeled an old-man car company for so long that they dug themselves a hole from which they couldn’t climb out? It’s like Cadillac trying to pose as a “starter car” for the next 16 year old. Cadillac understands its brand, they are a luxury vehicle. Does Buick fully understand who they are?

It will be interesting to see how this campaign evolves and we will keep an eye out for the new Buicks that drive by our Uptown office – or maybe watch it again when our Panthers make their Super Bowl victory lap.

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