As part of a strategy to connect with upscale consumers, Buick has partnered with Food & Wine and Travel + Leisure to produce a “cultural discovery” tour in which consumers test drive the 2011 Buick Regal sport sedan and engage in a series experiences with celebrity chefs, local artisans and travel experts.
The invitation-only tour, which launched in September and will make 10 stops in nine markets until it wraps early in December, targets consumers who own competitor vehicles and have household incomes above $100,000. “We are introducing the brand and our products to a whole new segment of buyers,” John Gasloli, national advertising and promotions manager at Buick GMC, told Buzz. “We want to expose them to the brand and have them rediscover Buick through a rich, engaging, brand-focused experience.”
To do that, the tour taps into two passion points important to this audience—food and travel. Attendees progress through four 20-minute modules in which they spend time with local artisans, perhaps a baker, chocolatier or cheese maker, then move on to presentations by culinary and travel experts. In Chicago, they heard travel advice from Travel + Leisure contributing editor Stirling Kelso and at other stops, a presentation by the entertaining travel writing team of Jane and Michael Stern, of roadfood.com fame. Other modules feature a lesson in mixology with wine and spirits expert Michael Green and culinary advice, cooking demonstrations and food samplings from top chefs Marcus Samuelsson and Michael Psilakis, who appear alternately on the tour.
Attendees receive a signed copy of either Samuelsson’s “New American Table” or Psilakis’ “How to Roast a Lamb” cookbooks. In addition, Buick will donate $100,000, or $10,000 per stop, that will go directly to the food banks in those markets.
“Everything about this was local, local, local, to really make the connection to you and the people around you, whether it is where to find the best pizza or the best crab cakes,” said Gasloli. “I think what this shows is when you understand your market and who your audience is and you provide a really rich experience that they care about and you wrap that all around what you are trying to do, which is test drive a car, it pays off.”
Tour stops include Alexandria, VA; Atlanta; Chicago; Cincinnati; Dallas; Greenwich, CT; Houston; Los Angeles and Orlando. Agency: Intersport, Chicago.