DETROIT: General Motors is seeking to better engage its employees and their families – in the past, some of its best brand ambassadors – with a “Vehicle Plant Tour.” The tour is an expansion of its vehicle advocate program, aimed at giving its more than 40,000 plant workers direct access to the latest models.
The GM Vehicle Plant Tour makes four plant stops at a time. Each plant will have access to six vehicles—Chevrolet Equinox, Chevrolet Camaro, Chevrolet Malibu, Buick LaCrosse, GMC terrain, and Cadillac CTS Sports Wagon—for 30 days. The vehicles, loaded with marketing materials that highlight product features, will be used by the plants for overnight employee test drives, shorter ride-and-drive programs, and community events to showcase the vehicles.
The tour starts this month at GM plants in Arlington, TX, Tonawanda, NY, Shreveport, LA, and Defiance, OH, and wraps in December. In total, the GM Vehicle Plant Tour will reach 40 manufacturing facilities in the US and Canada.
“The program is great for employees because it encompasses product training you get online along with real-world experience about the vehicles,” said Wendy Stachowicz, GM's manager, vehicle advocate program (part of the PR department). “But the goal is beyond just educating them. We have so many employees who want to speak out on behalf of GM and talk to customers, so that's why they are able to take the vehicles overnight. We all have a circle of influence, so they can reach out to people they know and say ‘This is the face of GM' and let them test drive the car.”
The GM Vehicle Plant Tour is an extension of its existing vehicle advocate program, which launched last June for employees at the Michigan facilities. “We started with these little ride-and-drives for the Camaro, and we've since expanded it to reach different audiences, including employees, suppliers and retirees,” Stachowicz told PRWeek. “So the program just keeps growing. For our hourly [workers], the tour connects them to the vision of the company and gets them excited about GM again.”
To measure the program, Stachowicz worked with GM Family First, the automaker's preferred pricing program for family members. For employees who take the cars overnight or to community events, “We developed a consumer outreach card to help seal the deal. The card includes the e-mail of someone within our company, who e-mails back an authorization code for preferred pricing,” said Stachowicz.
Weber Shandwick provides media relations support around the program. RHD Events provides logistical support.
The 24 vehicles on tour are “on loan” from the GM marketing team, which had used the vehicles for advertising purposes. “We are trying to reuse what we already have as a company so we don't impact inventory,” Stachowicz said.