GMC Trucks Star In Video Sponsorship Deal on AOL

General Motors' "Professional Grade" truck brand, GMC, is doing with AOL what it has done before with PBS' "This Old House": promoting its work ethic through targeted sponsorships.

The GM division and AOL, and Time Warner Global Media Group are launching three online video workshops about cooking, home entertaining and home improvement. The programs, "Cooking with Tyler Florence," "Home Entertaining with Michele and Gia" and "Home Improvement with Eric Stromer," launched yesterday on AOL's Living Channel.

AOL said the site will offer 78 videos running 3 to 5 minutes in length each, with iterations for iPods, print, and cell phone. GMC gets a couple of branding opportunities for their undisclosed investment: branding on a series of "sidebar" videos called "Trade Secrets," and GMC vehicles within each of the videos.

AOL says that the GMC Yukon SUV is in 'Cooking with Tyler Florence;' GMC's just-launched crossover, Acadia, is featured in 'Home Entertaining;' and GMC Sierra--sibling to Chevrolet's Silverado pick-up--is spotlighted in the 'Home Improvement' videos. Finally, GMC gets banner ads, and TV ads will be shown on the sites before the videos run.

An AOL spokeswoman pointed out that the deal with GMC is the first in which AOL has had a sponsor within its lifestyle area. "It's the outgrowth of a discussion that happened over several months," she said. GM's media agency PlanWorks handled.

"It's the first time in which we have been able to weave a sponsor's products into the series." She added that the vehicles chosen were matched for each series' viewers. "They did research and found these three topics would be of great interest to a very definite demo and psychographic," she said, adding that the deal with GMC is for one year.

GMC has been one of the few GM divisions that has hung onto its tag line for several years, and is one of the very few automotive taglines to continue for six years. The company, along with Lowe, NY, its agency, developed "Professional Grade" in September 2000. Also par for the GMC course is brand-identity affiliations. GMC has sponsored PBS' "This Old House" series, among others.

GMC sold 481,222 vehicles last year--a 15% decline over 2005.

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