LFI stresses economic impact of car purchases

WASHINGTON: Level Field Institute (LFI), a grassroots organization comprising retirees of Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler, is running a grassroots, advertising, and media outreach effort that asks auto buyers to consider the impact of their purchases on the US economy, and the auto industry in particular.

WASHINGTON: Level Field Institute (LFI), a grassroots organization comprising retirees of Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler, is running a grassroots, advertising, and media outreach effort that asks auto buyers to consider the impact of their purchases on the US economy, and the auto industry in particular.

Washington-based Rational PR is overseeing the PR aspects of the campaign, which launched this month, includes a $1 million media spend, and runs at least through the end of the year.

Don Marshall, a communications strategist at Rational, said a key aspect of the media campaign is a series of printed "score cards" that compare levels of US employment by both domestic and import carmakers.

Jim Doyle, executive director of LFI, said the campaign aims for a rational appeal. Television and print ads, as well as score cards and fact sheets for media, public policy decision-makers, and the public, aim to provide "the facts, in terms of US jobs, to people who care about a company's US economic impact," Doyle said.

"The quality gap has slimmed to basically nil," Marshall said, noting recent surveys by JD Power & Associates. "Starting with that premise, we say that when you think about buying a car, you think about things like its color and other features you want, and we're also saying you should think about the economic impact of buying it."

Jim Sanfilippo, an auto industry analyst with Bloomfield Hills, MI-based AMCI, said the campaign directly touches on prominent debates in the US about healthcare, among other things.

But will the new campaign resonate with consumers? "Hard to say," Sanfilippo said. "It's certainly more creative than the others, and if you're sophisticated enough to vote, you should be sophisticated enough to understand it."

Marshall said that the approximately $1 million budget is not necessarily a lot compared with media campaigns by foreign automakers that run in the tens of millions of dollars. "It's an uphill battle, but it's something. No one has gone out and made this argument before."

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