Sunday, August 15, 1999

GM to market Looney Tunes minivan

Warner Bros. cartoon characters will adorn vehicles

The Associated Press

        BURBANK, Calif. — Warner Bros. rolled out its latest production this month — and it's coming to a car lot rather than a theater near you.

        The big movie studio is in a co-marketing deal with General Motors, which will manufacture a minivan bearing Bugs Bunny and other logos owned by Warner.

        The Chevy Venture Warner Bros. van is the first part of a four-year marketing partnership between GM and Warner, with the automaker using the studio's movies, TV shows and Looney Tunes cartoons as a carrot to help sell cars.

        The van is the latest product of a marketing deal between Hollywood and a big manufacturer. But it's thought to be the first big-ticket consumer item labeled with an entertainment logo.

        GM plans to build 20,000 of the minivans and plans other marketing deals with Warner.

        The van, a variation of Chevy's Venture model, has small logos with Bugs Bunny leaning against the Warner shield on each front door and the rear of the vehicle. The logo also appears on a videocassette player located over the back seat of the van.

        The van, expected to be on dealer lots by late August or early September, also carries bonuses for buyers, such as free Warner videos and compact discs, discounts at the studio's retail stores and passes to sneak previews of movies.

        GM is paying royalties to Warner for use of the logos. In return, the automaker will have first rights to place its vehicles in Warner productions, as it did with the Chevy Camaro driven by Richard Gere in Warner's Runaway Bride.

        The base model of the minivan will have a list price just under $30,000. It has features including the video player, a built-in child-safety seat and a sound system that allows passengers to listen to different audio sources.

        GM executives said they hope the long family identity of Warner — with its movies and Looney Tunes cartoons — will help attract car buyers who have children. The automaker has used Looney Tunes characters in car ads before.

        “This is not about movie magic,” said Phil Guarascio, GM vice president for advertising and corporate marketing. “This is about marketing magic.”


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