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Celebrity Apprentice Affirms Buick Brand Confusion

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On: Tue, Mar 13, 2012 at 11:22AM | By: Chris Salamone


Celebrity Apprentice Affirms Buick Brand Confusion

Unlike a few years ago, Buick is a company with a lot of momentum going forward. The Regal has been universally accepted as an impending classic, the Verano shares DNA with an already superstar GM product (Chevy Cruze), and the soon-to-be youthful Sonic-based subcompact Encore all define a brand lineup which has undergone substantial evolution. Indeed, for the first time in a long while Buick, as a brand, looks to have a sunny financial forecast. Then Sunday’s episode of The Celebrity Apprentice aired.

But the problem with Buick’s brand messaging on Donald Trump’s wildly successful celebreality show wasn’t the fault of the program’s cast, Mr. Trump, or the quality of Buick’s Verano – the vehicle which happened to be showcased. Buick’s brand confusion came from a much larger, more systemic, issue. At least on the televised recording, Buick’s executives failed to specifically address what type of brand concept the celebrities should focus on.

Buick’s brand identity appears to be a source of strife for many auto enthusiasts and consumers across the internet. When the Encore debuted earlier this year, we couldn’t help but ask where the Encore fits into the company’s current portfolio – especially with the Verano starting at an already low price of $22,585. What group of consumers wants a slightly more expensive Sonic under a brand label which claims to be “luxury as it should be?” Last we checked luxury vehicles tend to cost a bit more.

The team presentations on The Celebrity Apprentice, minus a few hiccups, were generally well put together, engaging, and emphasized the Buick Verano’s key strengths. Viewers were left masticating on the Verano’s snazzy technology suite, sound dampening, interior storage space, and ten standard airbags. While these are all great features, certainly worthy of the luxury moniker, both teams had trouble nailing down what Buick, as a brand, looks like.

As if to highlight Buick’s struggle with image and growing pains, Adam Corolla declared to have lost his virginity in a former Buick to the crickets and pin-drop audience of Trump and company executives. And, in truth, there wasn’t an appropriate response to Mr. Corolla’s statement because something as precious as ‘the first time’ would require an awfully nice set of wheels. But really, this was the perfect opportunity to nudge consumers and fans in the right direction: Buicks aren’t just people movers, they move people. Buick is, and always has been, a brand which strives to make instant classics. Buick must break away from the stigma of a pseudo-luxury car company, which essentially up-badges middle class America’s rental fleet.

Looking for more? Check out the original Celebrity Apprentice Buick Verano Commercial and a clip of the winning team’s presentation.





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