Lifetime Goes Nontraditional to Sell Women on Pontiac G6 Automaker’s and Net’s Brands

Mar 28, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Lifetime has created a series of vignettes depicting women and their cars for General Motors’ Pontiac division, which has been appealing to female car buyers.

Pontiac sees the 30-second vignettes, which start airing in early April, as a nontraditional way to get more bang for its TV buck. For Lifetime, the vignettes are a way to attract more spending from the automaker.

“Lifetime is traditional media, but I don’t think the vehicle is traditional at all. I think people will notice the vignette, more so than they would a traditional ad,” said Mary Kubitskey, advertising manager for Pontiac. “The whole nontraditional area is where Pontiac is committed in the future. I’ll trade traditional media dollars for more effective nontraditional opportunities anytime.”

“Obviously, the automotive category over the past few years has been growing as it relates to reaching women,” said Lynn Picard, executive VP and general manager of Lifetime Television. “They found that women were much more influential in purchasing and making decisions to purchase cars, so it was a great opportunity for us. Money was out there to be had, and by coming up with this idea, and this partnership, we were able to get a bigger share of their money.”

To introduce the G6 and its SUV cousin, the SV6, Pontiac has done several nontraditional deals to reach women. In September Pontiac gave away 276 G6s on the season premiere of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and in November, the automaker was presenting sponsor of the “Cinematherapy” movie block on WE: Women’s Entertainment. Pontiac sponsors college sports to reach its male buyers.

Special Moments

The Lifetime vignettes will run back to back with a traditional Pontiac spot. The vignettes carry both the Pontiac and Lifetime branding, and because they are produced by the network, they have a good chance of connecting with viewers.

Ms. Kubitskey expects the combination to generate much more recall than a 30-second spot alone. “I’ve purchased a little less than a minute’s worth of time, but I think I’ve gotten three minutes’ value,” she said.

She declined to say how much money in total Pontiac is spending with Lifetime on this effort, which will run through the end of the summer.

The Lifetime project started before the upfront with a request from Mike Rosen, senior VP and manager of GM Mediaworks. “He came to us with the goal of introducing the personality of the Pontiac G6 and the SV6 … to Lifetime’s viewers in a unique Lifetime way,” said Mike Alvarez, VP of Lifetime Partnerships.

Lifetime produced four 30-second short stories. “Each captured a moment in women’s lives in and around their Pontiacs,” Mr. Alvarez said. “So many of these special moments in women’s lives take place around their car, so the creative doesn’t simply have the Pontiac as a backdrop, but the car is physically and emotionally part of the story.”

Lifetime produced the vignettes, but worked closely with Pontiac and its ad agency.

“It wasn’t like the vignette is done and for this much money we’ll put your product in,” Ms. Kubitskey said. “It enabled us to meet with the creators before the deal was done and actually influence what the creative was.”

In one of the vignettes, two women are shown bringing suntan lotion and a beach ball to their G6, which happens to have a very large sunroof. “I doubt there’s a woman who doesn’t consider the effect of tanning when you’re driving,” Ms. Kubitskey said. “It’s a nice lifestyle moment that I think the viewers will identify with.” At the same time, it highlights one of the selling points of the car.

Another vignette shows off the car’s remote ignition system. A woman is carrying a crying baby who is soothed by the sound of the G6’s engine.

“It’s not a traditional 30-second ad, and those don’t work like they used to. So I think it enabled Lifetime to produce something their viewers will actually enjoy watching and kind of relate to, and it enabled me to put my product into a scenario,” Ms. Kubitskey said.

“Everybody wants these [nontraditional ads]. It’s the big buzz of the industry. It’s the big buzz of the upfront. And they’re truly almost impossible to pull off because there are so many people involved to make decisions and you run out of time or you can’t get it through the system,” said Ms. Picard. “This was quick, almost easy, because everybody got it right away and we had our end goal in mind.”