Hopes for Repeat of 'Apprentice'-Solstice Success

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Pontiac is integrating its Torrent sport wagon into a challenge on next week’s “Survivor,” hoping the star turn can do for the brand what “The Apprentice” did for its Solstice.

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Tribe ride: Pontiac is running a promotion asking consumers to find "Survivor" alumns driving around the country in Pontiac Torrents.
Pontiac Marketing Director Mark-Hans Richer would not discuss specifics of the Dec. 8 appearance on “Survivor” but said the General Motors Corp. brand needed the blessing of both CBS and the show’s producer-creator Mark Burnett. A promotion will be revealed on-air at the end of the program that night.

The upcoming integration “leverages lessons learned over the past year,” he said, citing Pontiac’s experience with “The Apprentice” last spring. Pontiac announced at the end of that program a Web site for information how to order the first 1,000 of the sports cars starting the next day in an online coast-to-coast registration. The first 1,000 cars were accounted for in 41 minutes and traffic to Pontiac.com during the program rose by 1,400% compared to the same time on an average Thursday night, he said.

As part of Torrent’s launch early this fall, Pontiac ran 15-second messages at the end of each “Survivor: Guatemala” program for its “Survivor Search in the City” promotion. For the promotion, consumers had to find one of six former Survivors driving a Torrent, snap their photos or find a like photo online and send it a to www.cbs.com/survivorsearch.

More than 18,000 entries were received by the deadline earlier this month, Mr. Richer said. More importantly, he said the promotion generated nearly 350,000 page views for Torrent.

The effort, developed with CBS and Publicis Groupe’s Leo Burnett Detroit, Troy, Michigan, was supported by online ads on portals like Yahoo and AOL. The winner, still unannounced, will get five, fully-loaded 2006 Torrents, or what Pontiac calls “Torrents for your tribe.”

Pontiac said it sold 3,941 Torrents in the first two months of its launch through October. Mr. Richer said 40% of Torrent buyers are coming from non-GM brands.

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