GM revs brands for Olympics

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Each division will have distinct program for the Atlanta Games

General Motors Corp. wants its Olympics sponsorship to build brand images.

The carmaker unveiled its massive, integrated marketing plans April 12, using a "Driving the Olympic spirit" theme for its Summer Games efforts.

GM spent $10 million to be the exclusive domestic car and truck sponsor, according to Advertising Age estimates. Plus, GM and every division but Saturn will be major advertisers during the NBC telecast in a $50 million buy.

"Our Olympic involvement reinforces our commitment to a fundamental brand-building strategy designed to connect with consumers for the long haul," said Philip Guarascio, VP-general manager-marketing and advertising for GM's North American Operations. "We are seeking opportunities to engage consumers on their terms--when they invite us."

Also, he said, when the Games are over GM "will implement one of the most exhaustive measurement and tracking exercises to determine not only the value and return on our investment, but how consumers, employees and all GM stakeholders perceive our involvement with the Games."


GM and its divisions have distinct programs that minimize overlap, he said.

Cadillac agency D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Bloomfield Hills, Mich., is developing an Olympics-related TV spot. A print ad with Olympic gold medalists Edwin Moses and Janet Evans appears in June magazines.

Oldsmobile is following up on its NCAA effort with an Olympic-theme spring promotion. GMC is sponsoring the U.S. Equestrian Team to bolster its repositioning as GM's premium truck brand. And Buick will conduct consumer and dealer contests, plus an Atlanta-area mall tour during the Games.

Pontiac is launching its Grand Prix model during the Olympics. It will cross-promote with McDonald's Corp. in a major campaign later this summer, plus the division is running both consumer and employee sweepstakes.

The giant automaker also is producing limited edition Olympics models of the Pontiac Grand Am, GMC Jimmy and Buick Regal and Skylark.


In its NBC package, GM will be the sole sponsor of "Olympic Moments," a daily network feature on individual Olympians. Dick Enberg will narrate.

GM brands will rotate as sponsors of the feature, and a couple of spots with GM employees also will be used.

The automaker will have a significant presence in Atlanta during the Games, Mr. Guarascio said. GM will be one of five corporate participants in the 22-acre Centennial Olympic Park. It will host three pavilions, plus the Southern Crossroads Amphitheater with live entertainment.

GM's Century of Motion Theater will show a short film on parallel evolutions in human motion and transportation. The Thrill of Motion Theater offers what Mr. Guarascio called a "cutting-edge, full sensory experience," like the experience of driving in the Daytona 500.

Copyright April 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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