General Motors' Buick division will introduce a telematics sub-brand, IntelliLink, based on the same platform as that of sibling Chevrolet's MyLink. The company just launched a new advertising campaign as part of its sponsorship of NCAA men's basketball with a 60-second anthem TV spot around human achievement.
Tony DiSalle, VP marketing at Buick, said the company's new campaign on NCAA basketball has increased Web traffic to buick.com to its highest level -- up 24% and "driven by offline activation of our partnership with the NCAA." He says the partnership will continue around Lacrosse championships, and college football this fall. "It will be a significant investment. It's a great platform because you get lots of engaged enthusiasts. It has that engagement element, with fans who are passionate about their local teams and their alma maters."
The key is to reach what Buick calls "passionate experientials," a younger, more community-focused consumer who wants to buy a luxury vehicle as a reward, not to make a statement -- a position that DiSalle says differentiates Buick from sibling Cadillac, "which is a more entrepreneurial-minded brand." The company, he says, has also done a media buy on amazon.com, and will continue to focus on local efforts and events. "We will continue to do shows, events -- but we are also working with dealers to activate at the grassroots level," he says.
Buick sales were up 48% last year, and DiSalle says the brand outsold Acura, Infiniti, Audi, and Lincoln last year. He says first-quarter sales are up 49% and March was the 18th consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth. "We are attracting new customers," he says -- adding that 40% of Buick sales are conquested, with 17% from imports. He says the Enclave crossover also had its best performance last year, with 46% of buyers conquested from other brands.
The company in 2012 will introduce a new technology called eAssist, an electrification technology that DiSalle says will lift fuel economy to 37 mpg for vehicles like Lacrosse by trapping energy from vehicle braking, storing it in a battery coupled with an electric motor that allows start/stop function at lights, powers accessories and provides incremental torque on acceleration.
'It will be standard on Lacrosse in 2012," he said. The company will introduce the IntelliLink first in the Verano, which Buick introduced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this year. He says marketing will begin in February. It will then roll out in LaCrosse and Regal as part of the 2012 offering and Enclave in 2013. The technology, which vies against products like Ford's Sync and Toyota's forthcoming Entune, leverages mobile broadband capabilities of smartphones.
The Buick product, like Chevrolet's MyLink, will be integrated with OnStar, and offer services like turn-by-turn navigation.
Like Chevrolet MyLink, the Buick product has a visual screen-based palette of icon tiles that look like apps on a smartphone, such as Pandora, Stitcher, or satellite radio.