A car that can change its color to match your outfit?
Yep. That's what Oscar-winning actress Reese Witherspoon suggests in a new ad campaign General Motors launched Wednesday — online and on TV — that targets female car buyers while promoting the futuristic Buick Wildcat concept electric vehicle.
The 90-second spot is unapologetically directed to women.
The spot shows the Wildcat in a variety of scenarios, always with a woman in the driver's seat, doing futuristic acts such as valet parking itself, self-driving to work in "zen mode," which puts a peaceful, woodland setting on the windshield to promote relaxation. And, of course for the women wearing a white work suit, the blue car will change its exterior to white — almost like a mood ring on wheels.
"At Buick we see a future that's even better because it's built around you," Witherspoon says in the spot. "Come dream with us."
It makes sense that GM's smallest brand would target its mid-luxury models to women. The brand dominates all other brands industry-wide in terms of percentage of buyers being female. Plus, Buick has been collaborating with Hello Sunshine, the media company Witherspoon founded with the mission of putting women at the center of every story it creates, since October 2020. Buick offers an in-vehicle app to Reese's Book Club in certain models.
“With the largest percentage share of female buyers in the auto industry, we know that more and more women are making vehicle-buying decisions and we’re thinking creatively about how to offer experiences tailored to them," Molly Peck, Buick GMC vice president of marketing, said in a statement.
Buick's electric future
Last year, 56% of Buick's sales were made to women; no other brand comes close, Marc Bland, chief diversity officer for IHS Markit, now S&P Global, said in a 2021 Free Press article.
Given that women make or influence 85% of all new vehicle purchases, that gives Buick an edge, Bland said, adding that, "Buick is the best mark for GM on how to get it right for women."
Bland said this year, it still holds true Buick leads in sales to women. Through June, 55.1% of Buick's sales were to women. Second is Mitsubishi at 51.8% of its sales going to women. Mini came in third at 51.4% and Toyota's luxury brand Lexus is fourth at 50.2%.
"Those are the automakers where women contribute to the majority of their known-gender sales," Bland told the Free Press. "They have a product that appeals to women and they market directly to all women."
Through June, Buick has sold 48,075 vehicles, down 57% from 111,711 sold in the year-ago period. GM, like all automakers, has struggled with new-car inventory amid various parts shortages and production disruptions since early last year.
But Buick is on the road to zero emissions and self-driving technology like GM's other brands.
In June, GM unveiled the Wildcat EV concept with the promise that Buick, like Cadillac, will go all-electric by 2030. GM is investing $35 billion in EV and self-driving technologies through 2025. It intends to offer an all-zero-emissions lineup by 2035 and be a carbon neutral company by 2040.
GM will give Buick a new emblem as the brand freshens the designs of its existing gasoline-powered vehicles and brings new products to market over the next 18 months.
The Wildcat EV concept is critical to Buick because it will influence the design of all of the brand's upcoming vehicles over the next several years, whether they be internal combustion engine or electric.
"What this whole concept car does, is gives us a visual representation of how the brand is actually shifting as we evolve into electric vehicles," Rob Peterson, Buick marketing manager, told the Detroit Free Press in June. "There’s no better marketing than having a beautiful car out on the road. This concept is a start."
The first EV to hit Buick's lineup will come in 2024 and it will be an SUV. It and all future Buick EVs will be called Electra, followed by a number, Peterson said. Buick has not used the name Electra since 1990.
'Not committed to for production'
The new “Dream with Us” brand campaign envisions what life could look like for future Buick owners as Witherspoon narrates a scenario that starts off with the features on today's gasoline-powered Buicks, such as self-parking, and segues to how Buick is dreaming of ways it can get better in the future.
" 'Dream with Us’ shows a number of conceptual features and technologies that we have not committed to for production but help convey our vision for the future of Buick ownership,” Peck said.
The campaign shows Buick’s brand transformation by flashing the new logo, using new music and, of course, a new brand voice in Witherspoon.
A moving book club
But Buick has worked with Witherspoon for years. This expanded collaboration with Hello Sunshine will also include creative work with her and more brand collaboration, Buick said, without providing specifics.
The Reese’s Book Club in-vehicle app will continue in eligible Buick vehicles. The audio-based app gives Buick drivers access to a selection of audiobooks and podcasts chosen for Reese’s Book Club.
“We’ve worked closely over the past year on exciting new collaborations, including the launch of the RBC app in Buick vehicles, which was a huge success," said Zoe Fairbourn, Hello Sunshine's head of brand partnerships. "We can’t wait to create more moments that empower and celebrate women together through our work.”
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Reese Witherspoon, Buick team up to tap more female buyers in new EV ad