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Automotive Intelligence News

News of  October 03, 2001


 


Pontiac To Launch New 'Reality Marketing' Campaign On Emmy Awards

Pontiac Aztek

Photo: GM

DETROIT - Pontiac, the Excitement Division of General Motors, will kick off a new, integrated marketing campaign themed, "Pontiac Excitement. Pass It On." The wide-ranging campaign is built upon real people experiencing real excitement in a Pontiac, and debuts with two television commercials during the Emmy Awards on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2001.

"Think of it as Reality TV meets marketing," said Lynn Myers, Pontiac-GMC general manager. "These are real people and we'll give them the keys to a Pontiac for a week so we can film what happens and share their experience with Pontiac Excitement before they 'pass on' the keys to someone else."

Integrated Marketing Effort To Show Real People, Real Excitement Several people who are all new to Pontiac Excitement will drive new Grand Ams and Grand Prixs. Drivers' adventures, which can include their friends and family, will be filmed in Reality TV style. Internet, print and outdoor marketing campaigns will have the same look and feel.

Myers said Pontiac, with ad agency D'Arcy Advertising in Troy, Mich., is embarking on the innovative marketing campaign because the best way to understand Pontiac Excitement is to experience it firsthand. "Pontiac owners are passionate in the way they talk about their cars - they love the way they drive, the way they feel in the curves, how they look and sound," she said. "We want to put prospective customers in the cars and let them experience that passion, and show the world the results."

Breaking Through the Frenzy of Brand Messages Another reason to show real people driving Pontiacs is to counter the skepticism of consumers, particularly younger ones, who are increasingly numbed by a daily inundation of brand messages.

"When we describe Pontiac as 'driving excitement,' the skepticism radar goes up for young buyers," said Annette Lloyd, Pontiac director of advertising and sales promotion. "Many of them respond with, 'If you have to say you are exciting, then you probably aren't.' So instead of showing people our version of excitement, we decided to encourage them to create their own excitement."

Pontiac will introduce the concept on its web site, www.pontiac.com, with an open invitation to register to participate in future evolutions of the campaign. The TV portion begins with a 30-second commercial on the Emmy Awards that shows real people responding to the question, "What would you do if we gave you the keys to a Pontiac for a week?" A 30-second commercial airing twice later in the telecast captures the emotions of the selected drivers when they learn they've been chosen.

The new divisional campaign will continue to run on high-profile programs, including the season debut of CBS' "Survivor Africa." ABC's Monday Night Football, college football and prime-time network and cable programming. A retail phase for dealer ads begins October 22 and will run through the rest of the year.

Accompanying print ads parallel the campaign using a driver "scrapbook" style, featuring highlights of the drivers' experiences. Ads will run in national monthly and weekly magazines, including Time, Newsweek, People, Sports Illustrated and ESPN the Magazine.

The Making of 'Pontiac Excitement. Pass It On' Pontiac's groundbreaking new integrated marketing campaign is an unprecedented campaign starring real people, and it moved from concept to reality with breakneck speed. D'Arcy Advertising first presented the "Pass It On" concept to Pontiac in late July. Noted reality television director Adam Cohen and his company, Real TV, were hired to produce the TV portion of the "Pass It On" campaign. Cohen is known for his work on the hit MTV reality series, "Road Rules."

People who appear in the campaign were recruited through interviews "on the street" and "in the malls" of America. Those selected were surprised and given the keys to either a Grand Am or a Grand Prix for a week. The drivers' week-long experiences in a Pontiac will be recorded with two small "lipstick" cameras in the cars. According to, Lloyd, "Camera crews will also follow the cars for several hours a day to record the drivers' activities as they pursue their interests and create their own excitement."

The web plays an important part of this marketing campaign. In addition to using the web to register participants, visitors to www.pontiac.com will also be able to view short clips of the drivers' adventures in late October once the Grand Am and Grand Prix commercials start airing. There will be a considerable interactive element to the web site once the brand phase of the campaign begins later in October.

The drivers' adventures will be edited and quickly documented in TV commercials, through highlights on the Pontiac web site in late October and in print and outdoor advertising. Shooting the campaign in such a manner gives it the style of reality television. "It replaces the voice of the manufacturer with the advocacy of the consumer," said Gary Topolewski, executive creative director at D'Arcy. "The communications idea is really a simple one," Topolewski said. "We will use various media as windows for our audience to view, and be engaged by, real people experiencing real Pontiac Excitement."

(October 1, 2001)

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