GM Turns to Berlin Cameron for the Olympics




Automaker Revs Up Campaign 18 Months Before Sydney Games
DETROIT-General Motors has designated Berlin Cameron, New York, its national agency for all corporate Olympic advertising, while also cutting deals with 13 local NBC stations that effectively shut out competitive automakers during the Games.
Berlin Cameron’s first Olympic work breaks in mid-June during the NBA Finals-18 months before the 2000 games in Sydney, Australia. The automaker is putting $25 million behind the campaign, sources said.
“One of our objectives was to avoid the Olympic clutter by being out there where other sponsors are not,” said Phil Guarascio, GM’s vice president of advertising and corporate marketing. “It’s sort of a “hit ’em where they ain’t’ strategy, as the saying goes.”
The automaker would not comment on the creative. But sources said one of three initial 30-second TV spots focuses on Olympic legend Carl Lewis, while a second plays up GM and the United Auto Workers’ co-sponsorship of “The team behind the team,” a $3.5 million effort to financially assist aspiring athletes.
GM is focusing on athletes as a way to distance itself from the bidding scandals surrounding the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, sources said.
Guarascio said it made sense to hire Berlin Cameron for the Olympic assignment since the shop is also agency of record for Olympics broadcaster NBC. Berlin Cameron also created the Super Bowl launch ad for the Cadillac Escalade.
While Berlin will coordinate national efforts, the agencies that work with each GM division will be responsible for specific brands. GM has designated eight of its vehicles as “gold medal brands.”
In addition to the $500 million deal it signed with NBC last year to become the exclusive domestic automaker in Olympic advertising through 2008, GM has also inked agreements with affiliate stations in 13 major markets. In total, GM has committed $1 billion to its Olympic Games ad effort, sources said.
GM also said it has signed deals with 37 U.S. national sports governing bodies to market its cars and trucks at specific sporting events. ƒ