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Automakers seek to boost image with national ad campaign

By HARRY STOFFER | Automotive News

WASHINGTON -- When do you expect to buy a car with tailpipe exhaust that is 99 percent cleaner than emissions from the cars of a generation ago?

At least 20 years from now - or never?

If that's your pessimistic response, you're like more than two out of five Americans who were asked the question in a poll last year.

But such clean cars are on the market now.

Automakers have launched a print and broadcast advertising campaign designed to dispel misconceptions and spread more positive information about the industry. They also hope to shake their Rodney Dangerfield image: They get no respect.

"We're finding that there is a perception gap" about the industry, said Gloria Bergquist, vice president for communications at the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which is sponsoring the ads.

The effort is a first for the 5-year-old alliance, which represents the Big 3 and six import-brand automakers. Bergquist declined to disclose the cost of the campaign
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