Pontiac Ties NCAA Backing To New-Vehicle Launch, A First

For the first time, Pontiac is linking its sponsorship of the NCAA men's and women's basketball tourney to a new-vehicle launch. The timing was serendipitous: the G8, Pontiac's new flagship car, just started rolling into dealerships last month.

To promote the car, the company--which is official car of the NCAA basketball--is focusing more on the G8 than the Pontiac brand, with a new raft of G8 ads, product integration on CBS broadcasts of NCAA b-ball, leading up to the Final Four, and a promotion, "8 for the Road."

The new efforts are in addition to Pontiac Game-Changing Performance--a Bryant Gumbel-hosted segment during game broadcasts, which Pontiac has run for the past five NCAA basketball seasons. Gumbel is also touting the "8 For the Road" program, which dangles a new G8 and a trip for eight to the Final Four.

Chris Hornberger, Pontiac advertising manager, says Pontiac is running three ads for the G8 sedan, one that launched mid-March and the other last week, as well as a retail play and incentive program. Also, per Hornberger, the in-broadcast brand presence includes "lower third" screen billboards touting G8 with animation and a call to action driving consumers to Pontiac.com's G8 microsite.



"The results are already greater than we had all last year during Final Four," he says. "In the past, we just incorporated Pontiac, now we have incorporated G8 throughout; the traffic has almost been three times the norm."

The first G8 ad, for the G8 GT, puts the car in the '80s video game "Spy Hunter." The spot starts with the original old-school two-dimensional view of the game, then switches to computer-animated 3D, with the car being chased by helicopters, other cars and bombs, while it evades all threats.

The second has the car doing impossible moves. "We will also have a new spot for the Final Four," says Hornberger, who adds that the NCAA audience is ideal for Pontiac. Leo Burnett is Pontiac's creative AOR.

"Research shows viewers are 30-40% more likely than non-viewers to purchase a Pontiac. All metrics have shown a 15-20% gap between viewer and non-viewer, so these consumers are very receptive to the message," he says.

The other car Pontiac has launched is the newest version of its sport wagon Vibe. Hornberger says Vibe will get a broader integrated campaign later but now is being promoted online via animated billboards on NCAA-related Web media.

Next story loading loading..