CAMPAIGNS: Product Launch; Vectra aims for a Cavalier attitude

Client: Vauxhall Motors PR team: In-house team, Spectrum Communications and Media Enterprises Campaign: To launch the Vauxhall Vectra, which replaces the 20 year-old Cavalier in the UK Timing: Six months prior to the London Motor Show (18 - 29 October) Cost: PR budget undisclosed

Client: Vauxhall Motors

PR team: In-house team, Spectrum Communications and Media Enterprises

Campaign: To launch the Vauxhall Vectra, which replaces the 20 year-old

Cavalier in the UK

Timing: Six months prior to the London Motor Show (18 - 29 October)

Cost: PR budget undisclosed



Vauxhall wanted to maintain its number two position in the overcrowded

‘upper/medium sector’ or ‘reps car’ market in the UK and Europe. Its

biggest rival Ford, which is the market leader in this sector, had

successfully launched the Mondeo in 1993 and to remain competitive

Vauxhall needed a replacement to its ageing Cavalier - enter the

Vauxhall Vectra.



Objectives



Vauxhall - which claims it takes pounds 50 million to get a new car on

the road - wanted to ensure maximum public and media awareness of its

new Vectra range. With the aid of outside PR agencies and its in-house

team Vauxhall created a six-month strategy to grab the nation’s

attention.



Tactics



The launch of a new car is always the industry’s worst kept secret,

largely due to the astronomic development costs and the demanding

engineering and design strictures of manufacture. Rivals and journalists

will know a new car is coming on to the market up to a year in advance.

However, they won’t know what it will look like or what gizmos it will

have. That is the PR’s big advantage.



In March, Vauxhall’s in-house team began a teaser campaign with the

press and motor magazines. This was followed by VIP briefings in June

with Vauxhall Motor’s engineers, designers and managing director Charlie

Golden.



Two months later, motoring writers and correspondents from UK nationals,

were invited to a weekend test drive of the Vectra in Germany.



A second round of test drives was organised in the Cotswolds for the 250

or so regional UK motoring journalists. The in-house team used Spectrum

Communications to arrange a test drive for retailers at the famous

Millbank racing track in Bedfordshire, as part of an ongoing campaign to

ensure the dealer’s marketing was up to speed.



Over a six-month period special advisers visited retailers in their

showrooms to help guide marketing activity, with support from regional

PR agencies, Mason Williams, Julian Beresford Associates and GCAS

Public Relations.



In October, a consumer campaign organised by Spectrum and Media

Enterprises, kicked in, as mysterious 20ft high, V-shaped balloons

appeared above the nation’s motorways. Media Enterprises arranged for

Virgin Radio DJs to talk up these sightings and run a listener

competition to win a Vectra. This teaser campaign culminated in the

official launch of the car at the London Motor Show on 19 October.



The night before a spectacular firework display heralded the arrival of

the Vectra in London. The car was flown up the Thames estuary by

helicopter, a V-shaped light emblazoning the way to its drop site at the

Design Museum just south of the Tower Bridge. Public interest was

drummed up by Virgin and Capital Radio DJs. Brighter Pictures produced a

VNR of the event which was distributed to local TV stations.



Results



The launch received coverage on London Tonight/Today, Anglia TV,

Business Breakfast and Working Lunch. Radio 1, Capital and GLR also

covered the event. The Vectra generated cover stories in the marketing

press, extensive coverage in national dailies and Sundays and specialist

car titles such as Fleet News.



Verdict



Vauxhall Vectra’s launch received positive, but not ecstatic comment.

There were complaints from some motoring correspondents that the models

available for test driving were not up to the standard of the on-road

models which would be on sale to the public.



But the overall verdict was that Vauxhall had done a professional job;

the various elements of the marketing mix, for once, all driving in the

same direction.



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