GM Reteams With Mark Burnett for 'Gold Rush'

After Dropping 'Survivor,' Automaker Looks to Cash in With Online Treasure Hunt

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DETROIT -- General Motors Corp. may have bailed out as a sponsor of Mark Burnett's reality TV series "Survivor" on CBS, but the automaker has reteamed with the producer for his online reality series "Gold Rush."
Chevrolet is integrated into the game, and contestants will have to learn more about the brand and its products to solve some clues.



The company's Chevrolet division hopes to meet younger, web-savvy gamers as the official auto partner of the Mark Burnett Productions and AOL online reality series that kicked off at 7 a.m. EST today with the first set of trivia clues that lead to $2.3 million in gold and cash prizes.

'On the cutting edge of trends'

"Before, our major focus was on TV, but this puts that strategy on its side," said Julie Mynster, digital-ad manager for Chevrolet. That's because, she explained, the web is the major medium for "Gold Rush" and will be supported by ads in traditional media, including spots on CBS and print ads. The marketer wants "to be on the cutting edge of trends" and had been seeking "new things online," she said.

The auto brand is also supporting the series with banner ads that started Sept. 6 on AOL, which also has a sweepstakes on its site offering a chance to win a Chevrolet.

Ms. Mynster said the effort generally targets the gaming community -- people in their 20s and 30s. Still, she said the traditional ads for "Gold Rush" should bring new people into gaming.

Contestants need to know the brand

Chevrolet is integrated into the game, launched at goldrush.aol.com. But unlike traditional TV integrations, contestants will have to learn more about the brand and its products to solve some clues, and the marketer believes that will encourage consumers to be more engaged. They may also have to leave the virtual world for the physical world as they try to solve clues.

Best Buy, Coca-Cola's Coke Zero, T-Mobile and Washington Mutual are the other official sponsors of the game. CBS and Google are the media partners for "Gold Rush."

"Chevy is so ingrained in American pop culture and into music and the U.S. heritage, it was a natural fit for us," Ms. Mynster said.

$1 million in hidden gold

Here's how the game works: Over the next seven weeks, players will compete in 13 rounds and solve a series of pop-culture trivia questions and games. Each round consists of 12 challenges and the Gold Challenge. Solving challenges gets you a gold bar and 12 of them opens up the vault, enabling winners to be flown to a secret location and compete in person for $100,000 in gold. The final Gold Challenge will film semifinalists competing physically and mentally for $1 million in hidden gold.

The site offers a video tutorial, hosted by Mark Steines of "Entertainment Tonight," who will also host the game's vault segments and offline competitions.

Chevy vehicles will likely be seen on site in those segments.
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