DETROIT—General Motors Corp. wants to relieve consumers' anxiety about taking their vehicles into dealerships for Goodwrench Service Plus repairs or maintenance. So new TV and radio commercials will try to build emotional trust for the brand, said Kelly O'Neill, advertising manager of GM's Service Parts Operations.
The national ads, from D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles in Troy, Mich., tout dealer care of customers and consumer control of the experience. The ads, the brand's first new ones in two years, broke June 21 and will air for a year.
The auto maker learned last summer from consumer research that car owners fear taking their cars in for service, Ms. O'Neill said. ``That's true across the whole category—not just dealers but also national (repair) chains and local garages,'' she said.
J.D. Power and Associates, based in Agoura Hills, Calif., said in late April that consumers who take their vehicles to non-dealer service shops have greater satisfaction levels than those who go to new-car dealerships. Power said many car dealers give marginal service during the warranty period. It surveyed 32,505 owners of 1994-model vehicles.
GM also will launch its first national service pricing Sept. 13, when TV and radio ads break, Ms. O'Neill said. The new national ads, also from DMB&B, will complement the Goodwrench ads. GM will advertise an oil change and lube for $19.99 or less, tire rotation and balance for $29.99 or less and replacement of front or rear brake pads or shoes for $99.99 or less.
The ads will run through Nov. 21, with prices available through November. Participating GM dealers will market the prices locally via direct mail and newspaper ads.
GM now has 2,553 participating Service Plus dealerships, with 2,628 additional dealerships in the process of enrollment. GM had 8,118 dealerships as of Jan. 1.
Dealerships enrolled in Service Plus must honor lifetime service warranties, provide courtesy transportation, post pricing, offer every new owner a free oil change and conduct owner clinics every 90 days to teach vehicle maintenance.
GM launched Service Plus in August 1997 with national ads and 2,045 participating dealerships. Those ads were less emotional than the new ones and focused on tangible offers such as lifetime service guarantees and quality parts.
Dealers who participated in a Service Plus pilot in five markets in fall 1996 nearly doubled their service and parts revenue. Ms. O'Neill said that since 1997, service sales have risen for participating dealers.
GM spent nearly $38 million on Goodwrench ads last year in measured media such as TV and radio, according to Competitive Media Reporting in New York.