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Buick Continuing To Market To Youth With NCAA Deal

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On: Wed, Mar 16, 2011 at 11:31AM | By: Tim Healey

Buick Continuing To Market To Youth With NCAA Deal

This is not your father's Buick marketing deal. As part of a continuing effort to appeal to younger buyers, Buick has signed a three-year deal with the NCAA to advertise during NCAA events, such as the men's basketball tournament, which begins tonight.

Buick's sponsorship will include commercials for its LaCrosse and Regal sedans.

Buick is aiming for the NCAA audience because the company's research indicates that the tournament audience is made up of educated folks with money; but there's another potential benefit for the brand: The younger audience might help shift Buick's average buyer age lower.

Currently, that average age has dropped to 67 in 2010 after sitting at 70 in 2009. There's no doubt that a restyled LaCrosse and a re-born Regal has helped, and upcoming turbocharged versions of the Regal (including the performance-minded GS) will help even more. But Buick still needs to get the message out to the public.

Advertising during the NCAA tournament is one way to do that. The tournament is a nearly month-long event that draws plenty of viewers, ranging in age from college kids to middle-age Baby Boomers. That's a lot of eyeballs, many of which will likely fall in the coveted 18-34 demographic.

Which makes sense for Buick, given that the Regal, especially, is positioned as an alternative to cars like the Acura TSX for young, affluent buyers. For Buick, getting people who previously ignored the brand a reason to take a second look is key.

That's one reason why one of the ads run during the tournament will be an anthem-style ad that will try to establish an emotional connection between consumers and Buick. The ad will run during the Final Four portion of the championship tournament.

The deal extends to other NCAA sports, such as hugely popular college football, women's soccer, and the Frozen Four college hockey championship tournament.

That kind of exposure—especially during basketball and football games—could help Buick gain new fans. The company's last sponsorship deal, which ended in 2009, was with golf's PGA Tour, which has a narrower audience reach than the NCAA.

Buick not only needs to attract younger buyers, but it needs to separate itself from GM's other luxury brand, Cadillac. To that end, expect the advertising to showcase the brand as luxury that's affordable.

As part of the NCAA deal, Buick will also run ads that showcase the charities of former athletes. This could help Buick build goodwill with an audience that doesn't normally flock to Buick showrooms, or it could be seen as a cynical attempt to shore up the NCAA's image.

Either way, exposing Buick to a wider audience is another big step in the brand's remarkable resurgence.


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