US: Buick uses self-irony campaign to drive up sales image

General Motors has been battling its own global safety “demons” this year, but for Buick, the problems were identified to be at a more subtle level – the brand’s perceived image was at the low end of the spectrum.

Taking the “we know we’re wrong” approach seems to be the way of life for the No.1 US automaker this year: they finally recognized they concealed for at least a decade a critical safety flaw and (although universally panned) their sales didn’t suffer (too much). So, a clever marketing campaign that pokes the elephant in the room – Buick’s image issues – seems to have been the right move when it comes to a brand that was known – and mocked – because of its elderly customer base (among others).

Although in 2014 the brand didn’t come with new products, backed by the recent additions – especially the Encore small crossover (a sibling to Europe’s Opel Mokka) – the US company launched in spring a campaign that saw people surprised to discover models that don’t “look like a Buick.”

“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to it if I’m honest, but I think it’s the summation of a lot of things and momentum. You get to a place where the stars align. We’re competing in major segments with very good, acclaimed products. The other foundation is the dealer network,“ says Duncan Aldred, Buick and GMC’s US vice president.

Buick introduced just last month five new commercials for the Encore, Regal, Enclave, Verano and LaCrosse models, and the brand’s sales through August have risen 8% – the overall gain across GM is of just 2.8%.