GM's 'Ticket to Ride'

SAN FRANCISCO (06/05/2000) - General Motors Corp. launched a new six-week online marketing campaign today to win new car buyers for its brands. The company will offer incentives of up to $750 and e-commerce gift certificates to lure Web site visitors into showrooms for test drives and final talks over cars they've configured online.

GM is using the combined marketing departments of Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Pontiac and GMC to promote the new campaign, titled "Ticket to Ride," to take advantage of their online alliances. The goal is to drive additional car buyers to the GM Web sites through an online sweepstakes with Internet marketing partners and to use incentives to gather leads and deliver car buyers to local dealerships. The company's Saab and Saturn brands are not included in the campaign. GM announced the promotion just a day after new CEO Rick Wagoner officially took office with a broad agenda of building e-commerce throughout the company's dealings with consumers, suppliers and other business partners.

The company has done online promotions and incentives before, but never before so widely at the corporate level across such a wide number of brands. Car companies in the U.S. are beginning to act more aggressively to reach consumers through the Internet, allowing them to search online databases of inventory at local dealers and receive online quotes. Consumers can already look at inventory for over 500,000 GM trucks at over 6,000 participating dealers through GMBuyPower.com and see what cars are in stock at local dealers at a price quoted online. The site receives 700,000 hits every month, the company said. Until July 15, consumers can get incentives from GM of between $500 and $750 on midsize and SUV vehicles from all of the company's brands, excluding Saab and Saturn, by going . Once at the site, a visitor selects the make, model and trim of the car and then submits personal information to the Web site, including an e-mail address.

GM refers the information to a local dealer for follow-up, and e-mails the visitor a pass code with which to access a customized Web page with the incentive information. The customer then prints the page out and redeems the incentives at the local dealer with a car purchase. Similarly, visitors to the Web site can select a specific car to test drive and receive an online coupon for a $50 credit at Giftcertificate.com, to be validated at the dealership for future use. Visitors to the Web site can also enter an online contest to win trips and tickets to the Summer Olympics in Australia, the NCAA basketball tournament, the Daytona 500 car race, the Le Mans car race in France and the Country Music Awards. Visitors to a cobranded AOL General Motors site can also enter to win a round of golf with Tiger Woods.

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