GM WRAPS HEADQUARTERS IN SUPER BOWL PROMOTIONS

20-Story-High Vinyl Signage Hypes Automaker's Game Sponsorship

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Super Bowl XL is still XXXVIII days away, but sponsorship activation has started in Detroit, host of the Feb. 5 game.
General Motors Corp. is wrapping its headquarters in Super Bowl hype. Click to see larger photo.

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20 stories high
General Motors Corp. has gone so far as to wrap its headquarters -- the 73-story Renaissance Center, the most dominant building in the city’s skyline -- with a vinyl sheath. The wrap is red, white and blue, and features a giant football, logos for Super Bowl XL and the National Football League, and the distinctive wreath and crest of GM’s Cadillac brand, the official vehicle sponsor of the Super Bowl. The 24,748-square-foot wrap, which will cover more than 20 stories of the building, is expected to be completed this week.

Normally, GM might not have to go to such extravagant lengths to support its sponsorship. But this year’s game is not only being played in the home city of the Big Three automakers, but it also takes place at Ford Field -– yes, those Fords, owners of Ford Motor Co. and the Detroit Lions.

May add more
The giant wrap might not be the only outdoor advertising GM does for the game. A company spokeswoman said the carmaker is reconsidering whether to add more signage in light of a vote by the Detroit City Council last month to allow downtown building owners to display banners.

The City Council’s unanimously passed temporary ordinance allows advertising banners on buildings, much to the chagrin of the National Football League and the Super Bowl XL Host Committee. Those two fought the ordinance to protect corporate sponsors against ambush marketing from companies not affiliated with the league.

Under the ordinance, marketers and building owners can put up signs that cover up to 40% of a building’s façade -- and it allows them to do so from Jan. 2 to Feb. 10, a period that also includes the famed North American International Auto Show that draws more than 750,000 people to downtown Detroit.

$10,000 to $50,000
Depending on building location and visibility, banners could fetch between $10,000 and $50,000. Sign companies and building owners said during the November City Council meeting that they would work only with approved NFL sponsors, “but money is always the final arbiter,” said a league executive. “If an ambush marketer comes in and offers double what somebody else is willing to pay, it’s awfully hard to turn that down.”

So far, Super Bowl XL Host Committee VP Ken Kettenbeil said GM is the only marketer to begin advertising in and around the game. But that could all change in a matter of days, when the ordinance goes into effect.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said league sponsors such as Campbell Soup, FedEx, Pepsi-Cola Co. and Sprint will all have events in the city related to the game. Other marketers who are not league sponsors, including Nike, Playboy, Upper Deck Trading Cards and many others, all have events and parties planned in and around the city during Super Bowl week.

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