GMC is the official vehicle of the NFL, but the General Motors division is not filling that bucket with TV ads, and will not have vehicles at stadium parking lots during games.
But it has something that might be better: A road show called the "GMC Monday Night Football Tour" that targets important game markets the weekend before games, and gets a media boost from NFL players themselves.
The tour will visit Dallas, Tampa Bay, Detroit, New York City, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Boston, New Orleans and Seattle. The effort also involves a cause-marketing element via a partnership with the United Way.
The tour centers on an experiential program at high-traffic areas in the above markets the weekend before Monday Night Football games that mixes football-skills challenges with test drives, with GMC getting consumer data via bar code lanyards worn by participants.
Chris Hornberger, GMC national sales promotion manager, says the physical skills competition mirrors the NFL Combine program that tests athletes on skills like long and high jumping, with prizes like Monday Night Football game tickets, NFLship.com gift cars and signed memorabilia.
"When Monday Night Football comes to town it's like the circus rolling in, so we'll be at heavily trafficked areas, like malls. We are also targeting conquests and those in the GM family with specific invites," says Hornberger, adding that local dealers are also involved.
Current and former NFL players including Miles Austin, DeSean Jackson, Mike Alstott and Tony Dorsett, as well as ESPN Monday Night Football announcer Mike Tirico are also involved and will make appearances. "They are using their own social media pages to promote their appearances; some will be doing radio interviews to promote it as well," Hornberger says.
Tirico will be featured in a faux TV studio where visitors to the tour can sit behind a studio desk and act the role of announcers, while video footage of their comments on the upcoming game is edited between two pre-shot segments. In the first, Tirico introduces the "commentator" and the second after the participant hands the camera back to Tirico. GMC will then send that video link to the participant's smartphone or email.
"It's an extension of what we have done before, but much bigger," Hornberger says, adding that the tour brings in apparel company Under Armour, the official sponsor of the NFL Scouting Combine events.
The events let participants compare their scores against NFL pros. "We are working with them to have a combine-type experience in our display area on Saturday and Sunday," he says. "It ties in with our tagline, Professional Grade, because you are grading yourself against Under Armour NFL athletes like Cam Newton."
GMC will have around 25 Acadias, Sierras, Terrains and Yukons for test drives, with pre-registration at MondayNightFootballTour.com. "Once consumers do a test drive in our vehicles, purchase consideration goes way up," Hornberger says. "Those who take a test drive also get a vehicle purchase incentive."
The automaker's partnership with the United Way, United Way Healthy Kids Zones-Driven by GMC, involves rebuilding playgrounds in game markets, with local NFL stars participating for the day. It is part of United Way's nationwide effort to get 1.9 million more kids active and healthy by 2018. GMC is footing the bill for the equipment.