Suzuki crime prime

Un­der­belly ads hit their tar­get, writes NEIL McDON­ALD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

WHO says crime doesn’t pay? The suc­cess of TV se­ries Un­der­belly has given Suzuki Aus­tralia an un­ex­pected win.

The com­pany, not nor­mally a prime-time ad­ver­tiser, chose the show to sell the SX4, at the same time lift­ing the brand’s pro­file among po­ten­tial buy­ers.

Suzuki tar­geted the top-rat­ing $13 mil­lion un­der­world drama, as well as an­other hit, Thank God You’re Here, de­spite the fact a Supreme Court sup­pres­sion or­der stopped Un­der­belly be­ing shown in Vic­to­ria un­til last Septem­ber.

Suzuki Aus­tralia chief Tony Dev­ers says the com­pany’s me­dia move to prime time is work­ing.

‘‘I have a phi­los­o­phy that for TV we go on only shows,’’ he says.

‘‘All that helps. If you get a good brand mes­sage via TV, peo­ple put you on the shop­ping list.’’

The next step for Suzuki is to make it an as­pi­ra­tional brand and fur­ther dif­fer­en­ti­ate it from its ri­vals.

‘‘We want to make the Suzuki brand work with life­style through the SX4 ads and help dif­fer­en­ti­ate our­selves,’’ Dev­ers says.

‘‘We have a 100-year her­itage


top-rat­ing with suc­cess in mo­tor­cy­cles, marine en­gines and ral­ly­ing, so we want to work on that suc­cess.’’

Dev­ers also wants to push a more up­mar­ket ‘‘Euro­pean’’ brand fo­cus in readi­ness for the Kizashi mid-size sedan. It is due to go on sale late next year or early 2010 and an al­most pro­duc­tion-ready model will be at the Syd­ney Mo­tor Show next Oc­to­ber.

‘‘If we hadn’t moved the brand ready for Kizashi, peo­ple would have ques­tioned it,’’ he says.

The con­cept sedan fea­tures a new 2.0-litre tur­bod­iesel with a sixspeed se­quen­tial au­to­matic driv­ing all four wheels.

‘‘We have the op­tion of tak­ing late-2009 pro­duc­tion but we don’t want to release the car in Novem­ber or De­cem­ber into the hol­i­day pe­riod, so we might hold it un­til Jan­uary 2010,’’ Dev­ers says.

‘‘We’re us­ing the Mazda6 as our bench­mark.’’

Dev­ers recog­nises the mid-size seg­ment has slowed but be­lieves there is still room for the Kizashi against the Mazda6 and Honda Ac­cord Euro.

‘‘It’s still 16 months away but if the prod­uct is right we’ll sell the num­bers we need,’’ he says.

Lit­tle is known about pow­er­trains for the sedan but Dev­ers is con­fi­dent a diesel is among them.

‘‘Suzuki is looking at all dif­fer­ent types of en­gines,’’ he says.

The Kizashi is ex­pected to have a four-cylin­der and a V6 model, us­ing pos­si­bly the same 3.2-litre V6 as that just launched in the new Grand Vi­tara.

Two Kizashi mod­els are tipped to be avail­able, one less than $35,000 and the other about $40,000.

Both will be well-equipped, with lux­ury and safety gear, pitch­ing to buy­ers who want more pres­tige and sports-ori­ented driv­ing, Dev­ers says.

Suzuki has fore­cast about 26,000 sales this year, grow­ing to 30,000 next year and 40,000 in 2010.

In year-to-date terms, Suzuki sales are up 7 per cent this year against a mar­ket up only 0.3 per cent.

It all ads up: Suzuki chose prime-time TV ad­ver­tis­ing to sell its SX4 and ac­cel­er­ate the brand’s pro­file.

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