Inside Move: Buick hitches a ride with ‘Seabiscuit’

Automaker ads to unspool with film's scenes

Even a movie set during the Great Depression isn’t saying no to having a car company as a promotional partner.

Detroit automaker Buick is spending several million dollars on TV spots, print ads, a Web campaign and in-dealership promotions to help market the drama “Seabiscuit.” Gary Ross-helmed pic, which bows July 25, revolves around a businessman (Jeff Bridges) who teamed up with a jockey (Tobey Maguire) and his trainer (Chris Cooper) and ended up winning races with a seemingly down-and-out horse, captivating the nation. Pic is a co-production between Universal, DreamWorks and Spyglass.

Buick’s tie-in may seem odd, given the pic’s period setting and the automaker’s recent mandate to woo younger buyers to its brand (the average age of a Buick owner is 65), but a closer look reveals some intriguing synergies.

Seabiscuit owner Charles Howard is credited with helping introduce the West Coast to the automobile and usher out the use of horse-drawn carriages by opening the first Buick dealerships in San Francisco in 1906. He later opened a dealership in Hollywood, catering to celebs, and in the process, made Buick the car of choice for pics.

And “Seabiscuit’s” release is perfect timing for Buick. The company is celebrating its 100th anni and has long used campaigns that stress its vintage heritage.

New ads, featuring Buick icon Harely Earl and scenes from “Seabiscuit,” bowed during NBCs coverage of the Kentucky Derby on May 3. The rest of the campaign bows four weeks prior to the pic’s opening.

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