Magazine article Marketing

Profile: Seeking Affection - Andy Gilson, Marketing Director, General Motors UK and Ireland

Magazine article Marketing

Profile: Seeking Affection - Andy Gilson, Marketing Director, General Motors UK and Ireland

Article excerpt

The view from Andy Gilson's office in General Motors' UK headquarters, which overlook Luton Airport and an array of out-of-town superstores, is far from inspirational. The landscape is utilitarian - much like the Vauxhall brand, some might argue.

Despite being far from apologetic when discussing Vauxhall's previous positioning, and the poor reception of some of its vehicles in the 90s, the brand's top UK marketer has lofty aspirations for his charge and is unambiguous in his intention to move it into more elegant territory.

Over a 19-year career with General Motors, featuring stints in Germany and California, Gilson says he came to realise that Vauxhall needed affection - not from its owner, but from the car-buying public. When he took charge of the brand in 2004, the softly spoken marketer set out to inject a dose of likeability into Vauxhall's ads.

This approach can be seen in puppet rock band The C'mons, which star in the latest Corsa TV ads, and the 'little dads' of previous Zafira and Meriva campaigns, which were charming or irritating, depending on your point of view.

Gilson says that, while Vauxhall was always viewed as a 'rational brand', he has striven to develop a closer relationship with car buyers. As a result, it is cropping up in the most unlikely of places - such as its involvement with June's Art Car Boot Fair at Brick Lane in East London, or its sponsorship of the UK Beatbox Championships. Vauxhall is also extending its partnership with the Fashion Scout initiative over the upcoming London Fashion Week, alongside its sponsorship of Britain's Next Top Model on Living TV.

'I think Vauxhall was always strong on value for money and reliability, but over the past five or six years, we've tried to add more emotion to the brand,' he says. 'Our focus has been on improving product styling, and our communications have become far more edgy.'

The biggest change is yet to come: this week's London International Motor Show sounds the death knell for the Vectra model and the introduction of the more upmarket Insignia. Not only is Vauxhall rolling out a car to take on the likes of Audi and BMW, but it will do so with a refashioned griffin crest and without the customary 'V' grill found on recent models. …

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