Reassessing Elsewhere, General Motors Buys Into BET Awards

Honors Will Include Cadillac Lifetime Achievement Award

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General Motors has been re-evaluating its advertising strategy, pulling out of Facebook and the Super Bowl while seeking deep discounts in TV's annual upfront negotiations. But the automobile giant is finding value in new places, with its luxury Cadillac brand sponsoring the BET Awards for the first time this summer.

Steve Harvey accepts the State Farm Humanitarian Award at the 2011 BET Awards
Steve Harvey accepts the State Farm Humanitarian Award at the 2011 BET Awards

The sponsorship includes naming rights for one of the show's annual awards: Maze featuring Frankie Beverly will receive the rechristened Cadillac Lifetime Achievement Award this year. The show's other branded awards include the State Farm Humanitarian Award and the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards presented by Subway.

"This is more than a media buy," said Molly Peck, director of advertising at Cadillac. "BET has really been a great partner in allowing us to become integrated with the show, which provides enormous value.

"The BET Awards is the best TV property for reaching a luxury African-American audience," Ms. Peck added.

Cadillac, which has been a sponsor of the Golden Globes for several years, added the BET Awards now partly because the show, which will take place July 1, lines up well with the introduction of the Cadillac XTS, Ms. Peck said. The new car will share the red carpet with BET stars and shuttle celebrities to and from the pre-dinner. "This made the BET Awards a much more attractive opportunity," she said.

The sponsorship comes as GM has asked for significant pricing rollbacks in the upfront market, when the TV networks try to sell the bulk of their ad inventory for the coming season. GM also said last month that said it would stop advertising on Facebook and days later announced that it would not buy ads in Super Bowl 2013. It ran four ads in this year's game, including one for Cadillac.

"The decision to sponsor the BET Awards is independent from the Super Bowl," Ms. Peck said. "Both properties have enormous, powerful reach, and I am a big fan of the Super Bowl. ... But everything has its limits."

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