GMC Launches NFL Site in Move Away from Traditional Media Buys

For the third year in a row, GMC has teamed up with the National Football League and Digitas to create a “Pro Grade Challenge” minisite, downplaying traditional media in favor of digital interaction with NFL viewers to promote its vehicles.

Through partnerships with both the NFL and the ESPN sports network, GMC is driving viewers to its Web site via on-air promotions during Monday Night Football, as well as television spots running on CBS, FOX and ESPN, print advertising on ESPN magazine, online advertising on ESPN Fantasy Football, CBS Sportsline, MSN, and a to-be-announced special deal with Google. All placements seek to drive NFL fans to a site hosted on GMC.com, where they can watch videos, take trivia challenges and vote for GMC’s Defensive Player of the Week, culminating in Player of the Year recognition.

The campaign promotes the GMC Acadia, Sierra Denali and Yukon Denali vehicles and is a direct result of the company purposely driving a larger percentage of its advertising dollars online, according to Mary Kubitskey, national advertising manager for GMC.

“As with all our traditional marketing advertising, we’re trying to go more digital. It’s not a surprise that :30 ads aren’t working like they used to, and this gave us an opportunity to interact with NFL fans and football,” said Kubitskey. “I spend too many hundreds of millions of dollars in traditional media and broadcast :30 spots and it’s getting hard to see that money work for us. So we’re engaging Digitas to keep trying to bring us what’s new.”

Kubitskey said each year the online campaign has driven a spike of interaction. She added that this season’s GMC microsite was set up to operate within GMC’s domain, as opposed to within partner ESPN’s domain. Kubitskey said she “felt like we were a step away from our audience.”

“Any day I’ll trade traditional media money for something nontraditional,” she said. “Digitas did a great job in putting together a promotion, and we feed the promotion with traditional media.”

Creative agency Digitas capitalized on its access to ESPN commentators Kenny Mayne, along with “Pardon The Interruption” hosts Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon, to create video clips in which the sports personalities discuss upcoming Monday Night Football games over the preceding weekend. Along with opportunities to win Super Bowl tickets or vehicles, the site also showcases features of the three GMC vehicles being promoted. These are presented by Kenny Mayne as if he’s calling a game, said Anne-Marie Kline, VP director for Digitas.

“He takes you through the Sierra truck as if you’re watching the films to get ready for the next game,” said Kline. “We tried to make sure that GMC is infused in the experience. But it doesn’t overtake it, and people can experience it in this football-oriented environment.”

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