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Holden loads extra 40 per cent into marketing gun

Making Trax: Holden is promising “a huge year” with new products such as the Trax small SUV.

Huge spend planned by Holden as it launches six key new models in 2013

10 Feb 2013

HOLDEN will spend an extra 40 per cent on marketing this year as it launches a raft of new products and sets about reversing its 9.1 per cent sales slide of last year.

The company is also preparing to do hot deals on its run-out VE Commodore to keep it pumping until the arrival of the new VF range in June, despite wall-to-wall advance publicity for the new model.

Holden chairman and managing director Mike Devereux told GoAuto that 2013 would be a watershed year for Holden.

“We are going to launch six new products in four new segments this year,” he said.

“We are going to spend 40 per cent more money telling people our story. We are going to connect with iconic brands like the NRL (National Rugby League) and Collingwood footy club.

“We are going to show people we are back, bigger and better than before.” Mr Devereux said that ideally, Holden would have launched its new VF Commodore all at once closer to the showroom debut in mid-year, but Chevrolet's plans to launch its Australian-made export version, the Chevrolet SS, at the Daytona 500 was “too good an opportunity to pass up”.

“Yes, we have a lot of VEs to sell, but I don't think that telling the VF design story will hurt,” he said.

“We have a really good value story to tell on VE. It still a fantastic car in the market place. Yes, it is in the seventh year of its product life.

 center imageTop: Holden Malibu. Lower: Holden Colorado 7.

“Yeah, one of our best-selling cars of all time is in the last year of a fairly long product run, so we are waiting eagerly to get the VF to market.” Holden executive director sales and marketing Philip Brook told GoAuto that Holden was planning “the usual run-out things” for the VE over the next few months, including special editions.

He said January, February and March production had all been taken up by dealers, pointing to an orderly run out.

Mr Brook said the factory at Elizabeth, in South Australia, was planning some down time to prepare for new models, which would help to reduce the chance of excess stock.

“We also have the export program (for Chevrolet Caprice PPV police cars) pumping away, so that helps,” he said.

Holden is already building pilot VF Commodores in readiness for full production in a matter of weeks.

According to Mr Devereux, the planned Easter shutdown at Elizabeth will enable more ground works for two new models to be built there after 2016.

These are expected to be the new-generation Cruze and derivatives, and a new Commodore – announced in stunning fashion by Mr Devereux at a media briefing of VF design on Friday.

While VF will be the subject of a big marketing push by Holden, the company has also set aside big budgets to launch the new Trax small SUV and Malibu mid-sized sedan.

The Trax will give Holden its first contender in the fast-growing small SUV market segment, while Malibu will re-launch Holden into the medium car segment dominated by Toyota's Camry.

“For Trax and Colorado 7, which we really haven't started selling yet, it is all about broadening our product portfolio, really upping our game in SUVs,” Mr Devereux said.

“Trax is going to be a fantastic vehicle. Small SUVs grew 55 per cent last year, and we didn't sell any.

“It is all about being on the front foot, being aggressive with our marketing spend, connecting with iconic sponsors, getting back into sports sponsorships, and frankly, showing people what you can do in this country.

“This is a huge year for us.” The three-year NRL sponsorship spend, which includes sponsorship of the State of Origin series, reputedly will cost $10, while Holden has revealed the Collingwood deal will also be a multi-million-dollar spend over three years.

Last year, Holden sales slumped by 9.1 per cent, while its market share slipped from 12.5 per cent to 10.3 per cent – its lowest in memory.

Last month, importer Mazda pushed Holden back to third place, and moving up into second place behind market leader Toyota.

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