Pontiac Readies Next Phase Of Transformers Promo

Pontiac is continuing its social commerce strategy by taking an avatar from its Second Life virtual island Motorati and planting her with friends and a Pontiac Solstice on Maxim magazine's online site.

It's the next phase of a campaign running on maximonline.com since April for Pontiac Solstice GXP, a performance version of Pontiac's roadster. The effort supports Pontiac's product integration in the Paramount/Dreamworks movie "Transformers," directed by Michael Bay and premiering July 4.

Through June 20, when consumers visit the Web site, Transformers cast member and Maxim Hot 100 model Megan Fox appears onscreen--superimposed beyond the confines of a video player window. She invites viewers to click on her for a chance to accompany her to the premiere and win a GXP. Pontiac supported this with print ads in June issues of Maxim. An Owings Mills, MD company called Rovion did the work, and is also behind the Second Life effort. Rovion specializes in transposing videos of people onto Web pages, via a technology it calls InPerson. The Internet media company did similar work for Pontiac's "Game Changing Performance" contest during the NCAA tournament in March.



On June 22, Second Life model and "actress" caLLie cLine--a virtual person, not a real one--takes over. The avatar also happens to be a Maxim Hot 100. She "lives" on Pontiac's Second Life property Motorati Island, which the division created last year, to promote Solstice and other cars.

Len Ostroff, CEO of Rovion, said cLine is the avatar of a real person, a 40-something woman in LA. "What we are doing from the tech and ad-serving side is virtually filming her in Second Life, extracting the video and putting her on Maximonline," he says. "We have a special relationship with Pontiac, and I think it's trusted. They jumped right on it."

Pontiac in February launched a community hub on Yahoo, called "Pontiac Underground," a social network for owners of old and new Pontiac vehicles.

The site lets consumers share photos and videos of their cars, as well as peer-to-peer networking via Yahoo Answers.

General Motors, which has several vehicles in the movie playing good-guy Transformers will roll out an integrated campaign including Pontiac and Chevrolet in support of GM product integration in the movie.

Pontiac advertising manager Chris Hornberger said the division's two-year-long work with Maxim is part of Pontiac Fusion, a cross-promotional initiative. It's also involved Pontiac sponsorship of events around the "Maxim Hot 100," including a concert by pop star Avril Lavigne at "Pontiac Garage," a building-top stage in New York's Times Square, and sponsorship of the Maxim Hot100 party.

"It's very integrated," Hornberger says. "We don't just insert logos into a brand name. We align ourselves with strategic partners, with great properties."

He said the Solstice, though a low-volume coupe, is a "halo" for Pontiac as it targets "expressive enthusiasts."

"We are going after driving enthusiasts, not necessarily the young. Second Life is a big platform for us; it aligns with our strategy of being on the forefront of emerging tech and also of aligning with communities, and social networks."

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