- The Washington Times - Friday, July 19, 2002

DETROIT The photographs of the hulking yellow four-wheeled monster are crisp, edgy and look more like prints hung in a gallery instead of illustrations in a magazine.
The accompanying copy ranges from fake threat to blunt force to sweet revenge and stark utilitarianism with lines such as: "Threaten the men in your office a whole new way," "You give us the money, we give you the truck and nobody gets hurt," and "When the asteroid hits and civilization crumbles, you'll be ready."
Such extreme rhetoric and images are what the Hummer unit of General Motors Corp. believes it will take to sell an extreme type of vehicle the $50,000 Hummer H2 that reaches dealerships this week.
"Our goal is within five seconds you get that it's a Hummer ad," Liz Vanzura, Hummer advertising director, said at a preview of the ad campaign.
While acknowledging that Hummer is not a mass-market brand, Miss Vanzura said GM is trying to sell more vehicles with the Hummer name.
Barely more than 700 of the larger, more expensive Hummer H1s are sold each year.
The H2, however, is built on a GM truck platform and marks the automaker's first product with the Hummer name since GM bought the marketing rights to the brand from South Bend, Ind.-based AM General in 1999.
Research by GM and Detroit advertising firm Modernista found that Hummer brand awareness was relatively strong at 44 percent of those surveyed, but advertising awareness was almost nil, and only about 5 percent of those surveyed said they would even consider buying a Hummer.
The strategy, then, was to come up with a campaign to raise both advertising awareness and consumer consideration, while appealing to Hummer's core market of groups labeled "rugged individualists," "successful achievers" and "style leaders," Miss Vanzura said.
While the H1's military image is a sortie into the male market, the more civilized H2 has women who fit into one of the three categories in its cross hairs as well.
One print ad, a twist on a moniker that denotes busy but grounded moms, takes it up a notch with the line, "perfect for rugby moms."
Television and print advertising campaign will also retain the tag line the company has been using for several months: "Like nothing else."
The trick, Miss Vanzura said, is to convey the concept that the H2 is "tough, rugged and premium," a combination she says is lacking in mass-market sport utility vehicles.
It may work, said Chris Cedergren of the automotive marketing company Nextrend Inc.
"What they're trying to do is remove the harshness and keep it in some way more sophisticated, but they have to be careful not to go too far where they remove the major mystique of Hummer," he said.
No chance of that, Miss Vanzura said. Above all, GM is guarding the Hummer's reputation as the toughest thing on four wheels, which is why there's no soft sell for this vehicular hard body.


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