Suzuki crime prime
Underbelly ads hit their target, writes NEIL McDONALD
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.