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GM's Chevrolet `Significantly' Cutting Sports Sponsorships
General Motors Corp.'s Chevrolet brand is ``significantly'' reducing spending on sports sponsorships because of falling sales and the economic slowdown.

Chevrolet will stop promotions tied to college sports and only advertise during games, said Philip Caruso, national promotions manager. The brand will also eliminate partnerships with some of the smaller sports such as skiing, he said.

``The economy is making us re-look at everything we do,'' Caruso said in an interview after awarding Major League Baseball's Roberto Clemente Award at the World Series in Philadelphia. ``It's cutting back mainly spending in the sports area and promotions as a whole, and then reallocating in some of those areas that help grow our business.''

General Motors, the largest U.S. automaker, and Ford Motor Co. have reduced sports marketing as a way to cut costs amid falling sales and plummeting stock prices. U.S. auto sales slid 27 percent in September and deteriorating consumer confidence and a slowing economy may erode them further.

GM is closing plants, curbing production and downsizing its lineup of cars after U.S. sales dropped 18 percent in September. The company is in talks with Chrysler about a possible merger, according to five people with knowledge about the discussions.

Shares of GM have fallen 76 percent this year, the biggest decline among the 30 members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

General Motors said last month it won't air a commercial during the Super Bowl because of its restructuring. The automaker's Buick brand has had talks with Tiger Woods about whether to continue its sponsorship of the golfer beyond 2009.

Caruso declined to say how much Chevrolet is cutting back, saying only ``we are reducing significantly.''

Ford, the No. 2 automaker, whose stock is down 70 percent in 2008, will stop financial support to race teams in NASCAR’s Nationwide and truck series next year.

Chevrolet became an official sponsor of Major League Baseball in 2005 and signed a three-year extension that covered the 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons. The brand is the presenting sponsor of the sport's Roberto Clemente Award given to a player for contributions to the community. Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals received this year's honor.

``Baseball is one of the properties that we use as a very effective tool to help us grow our business,'' Caruso said, citing online promotions with the sport.

Chevrolet will look to increase its sponsorships of properties that will help add more female and younger customers, he said without providing details.

``This year, probably more so than ever, we are concentrating on reducing the waste in our promotion side,'' Caruso said.  Bloomberg

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