'KING OF BLING' EVENT CELEBRATES CUSTOM GM VEHICLES

Cars of the Stars Event Showcases Hummer and Escalades

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- General Motors Corp. will give away its first "King of Bling" title in a star-studded, invitation-only event in Los Angeles today. The event, called the "GM All-Car Showdown," will feature a
Shaquille O'Neal and his customized Hummer are part of the GM marketing promotion.
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dozen invited athletes and 12 celebrities showing off the customized exteriors and interiors of their GM Cadillac Escalade and Hummer H2 sport utility vehicles.

Celebrity culture
The auto marketer is using the event as part of an effort to more broadly associate its products with the glitzy celebrity culture of California's entertainment industry, said Mike Jackson, general manager of GM's western region.

Each participating celebrity gets money from GM for their favorite charity.

The mix of athletes, musicians and actors includes Shaquille O'Neal, Martin Lawrence, Brian Jordan, Frankie Muniz, Busta Rhymes, Incumbus and Public Enemy.

Billboard, Web site tie-in
The event kicks off an out-of-home and online effort by GM in California to raise consumer awareness across all its vehicle divisional brands, Mr. Jackson said. Mr. O'Neal appears in billboards, which direct consumers to a Web site, findyourstyle.com. The billboard buy with the NBA star will last roughly three months.

GM's western region selected the San Francisco office of Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson Worldwide to handle the campaign.

Former NBA star LaSalle Thompson's custom vehicle, which mixes Hummer and Cadillace parts, is also part of the show.
The agency's Troy, Mich., office handles GM's corporate account as well as its Buick account.

"We wanted to work with an agency that was somewhat local and understood our needs," said Mr. Jackson, who declined to reveal costs of the campaign.

Calif. market share
GM's total market share in terms of retail sales in California "is down slightly over the last several years, to roughly 18%," he said. GM's share of the truck market went up during the period, but not enough to compensate for car-side declines. Toyota Motor Sales USA's share in the state is 19.5% of all retail sales, excluding fleet and commercial sales, he added. "Imports dominate the market here."

GM partnered with one of the area's top urban radio stations, which will invite 400 listeners to watch the celebrities and athletes drive their vehicles over a red carpet into a studio.

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