Pontiac's 'Product Fusion' Marketing Scores Sales, Visibility

General Motors is getting a bad rap, says Pontiac Marketing Director Mark-Hans Richer. It's unfairly viewed as a risk-averse marketer. "They're not given much credit for being a progressive company, but they've been supportive of us," Richer said Tuesday at an Advertising Week event.

Most prominently, Richer cited GM green-lighting the famous "Oprah" giveaway two years ago. GM ponied up $7.5 million to give away 276 cars to each member of the studio audience for the "Oprah" show.

The "Oprah" stunt is an example of what Richer called Pontiac's new marketing strategy of "product fusion." The goal is to find a way to boost the appeal of the media outlet. In this case, it was a boon for "Oprah," which in turn gave Pontiac a lift.

"It's a win-win scenario," Richer said. Another example of the tactic came in Pontiac's two-time brand integration into NBC's "The Apprentice" in seasons three and five. The move, Richer said, gives the NBC show credibility, but it also paints Pontiac in a positive light and leads to sales. One brand integration was supported by a TV spot in the show--which led consumers to a dealership the next day. It also led to $20 million in sales in 41 minutes, Richer said. (In season five's finale, Pontiac sponsored a celebrity charity event.)

While some media members and others have criticized the brand integrations on "The Apprentice" for overly commercializing and cluttering the show, Richer said Pontiac sees it differently.

"We saw the ROI metric was extremely strong. The strength of that audience is an extremely good audience."

"Product fusion" even extends to ploys such as the marketer's massive display in Times Square. Richer said Pontiac views New York as a brand, and is pleased to be associated with the goodwill and exposure that comes from prominent placement in the "crossroads of America."

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