General Motors cashes in on World Series

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The World Series has been a bit rough for the Detroit Tigers, but you’ll find few complaints from General Motors.

The world’s largest car manufacturer is cashing in on near-constant exposure on Fox’s World Series broadcasts, with advertising, signage, sponsorships and tie-ins galore.

GM’s Chevrolet brand, in particular, has been especially visible. There’s the “Chevrolet Player of the Game” and the “Chevrolet Most Valuable Player” awards, plus signs behind home place and down the right and left field lines. The company’s new 2007 Silverado truck is a fixture during commercial breaks.

During the first two games of the World Series in the Motor City, the company pulled in $10.5 million worth of in-game exposure, according to Joyce Julius and Associates, an Ann Arbor, Mich., company that rates the effectiveness of sponsorships.

Either the GM, Chevrolet or Silverado brands appeared for a total of 9 minutes and 25 seconds, and that total doesn’t include 30-second commercials appearing between innings.

“We’re very pleased with what Fox has done so far,” said Philip Caruso, national promotions manager for Chevrolet. “[Baseball] is so perfect for what we want to. It’s a natural tie-in.”

Chevrolet is in the second year of a three-year contract with Fox, and will likely extend that deal by two years, Caruso said. It also has contracts with 15 major league teams, including the Tigers.

The latest promotional campaign has involved the Silverado appearing in commercials with musician John Mellencamp, who performs a rugged patriotic song called “Our Country.” The commercials feature footage of the Silverado and Mellencamp, interspersed with scenes from significant moments in American history. Mellencamp performed the song before Game 2 of the World Series in Detroit.

Fox has also inserted Chevrolet signs behind home plate that resulted in a total of 4:14, representing $3.2 million, according to Joyce Julius.

This year, Chevrolet’s partnership with Fox and Major League Baseball has proved extraordinarily successful because of the success of the Tigers, whose home field of Comerica Park is located mere blocks from GM’s world headquarters in downtown Detroit. Fox, either by design or inadvertently, has shown numerous images of various Chevrolet and GM logos in the city. The General Motors Fountain in center field of Comerica has been worth $1.5 million in exposure for the GM brand, Joyce Julius said.

“The deeper the Tigers go in the postseason, the better it is for us,” Caruso said. “It definitely gives us that added opportunity.”

The success of the Tigers follows the city’s hosting of the Super Bowl last February, as well as the 2004 Ryder Cup, 2005 Major League Baseball All-Star Game and recent championships by the Detroit Pistons of the NBA and Detroit Shock of the WNBA. The result has been tons of added exposure for General Motors, with much of it requiring little additional investment from the company.

“The thing advertisers often ask is ‘is it organic?’ And this certainly fills some of those organic opportunities,” said Eric Wright, vice president of research and development with Joyce Julius.

There has been some backlash against Chevrolet. Many fans have objected to Mellencamp using the “Our Country” song for commercial purposes, and also to the advertisements themselves, which depict scenes of a World Trade Center Memorial and Gulf Coast recovery from Hurricane Katrina. Some have also objected to the sheer volume of images relating to Chevrolet and GM.

“In general terms, people are always complaining of over-commercialization and advertising,” Wright said. “But the purpose is not to entertain, but get the brand name out there as much as possible. There’s probably a line where it’s too much, but it’s hard to define, and most companies will probably go right up to that line and maybe even cross it a little bit.”

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