Friday, September 28, 2007

Was the 'Transformers' a GM ad in disguise?

In July, almost all movie houses were posted by huge tarpaulins of the most awaited car film of the year, the ‘Transformers’ starring Jon Voight, Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel and Megan Fox. But the movie not just starred these famous Hollywood celebs, the Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Solstice, GMC Topkick and Hummer H2, all General Motors produced vehicles are also on the lead.

“You’re going to see these cars as the heroes. You’re not going to see the other actors,” said Dino Bernacchi, GM’s associate director of branded entertainment.

“These cars are the stars, literally, in the movie.” he added.

With the film, toys, and video games featuring the robotic cars, GM is said to be targeting the youth demographics aging from 18-34. The automaker is luring them to their showrooms as its vehicles had oversized presence in the film.America’s top automaker is spending millions of dollars in marketing the vehicles starred in the movie but the company refused to give the figures. Thanks to the movie, GM is converting exposure to sales.

“This is hopefully a discovery point for maybe some of those who didn’t know the great design, the great-looking vehicles that we have out today,” Bernacchi said.

“I find it really difficult to believe that a global blockbuster movie like this that has so many merchandising components to it that we’re not going to get incremental exposure.” he added.

The ‘Camaro’, which is eventually the name of one of the vehicles, had been mentioned for a number of times by different characters. The Chevy, Pontiac, GMC and Hummer had close-ups for enough screen time.

“Product placement has never been so blatant, and the potential for a global platform to build brand awareness could not have come at a better time for GM,” said David Koehler, a clinical marketing professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“The younger demographic most likely to flock to the theaters is exactly what GM needs,” he said.

On the other hand, according to Erich Merkle, the vice-president of forecasting for Grand Rapids-based auto consulting company IRN Inc., although the movie caught the youngsters impressed with the rides GM vehicles can give, it doesn’t mean that they will be directing themselves to GM’s showrooms to buy them.

“Keep in mind that some of the vehicles they’re showing are vehicles the youth market won’t be able to afford,” he said.

“But they do have a tremendous influence over what people who can afford those vehicles go to buy. You shouldn’t underestimate the influence of the youth. I don’t know a Baby Boomer out there who doesn’t want to be cool.” Merkle added.


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