Pontiac Fired Up by ‘The Apprentice’

LOS ANGELES Pontiac’s brand-marketing play on The Apprentice last Thursday was successful beyond expectations, said Mark-Hans Richer, director of advertising, who appeared on the episode to judge the teams working on a brochure for the Solstice.

Richer said he thought one of the two teams of Apprentice competitors had done a good job on its brochure, so the winning marketing piece was produced with the help of Publicis Groupe’s Kaplan Thaler Group, New York, and put into practical use.

Richer said that after the pre-order system went on line at 2 p.m. on the Friday after the show’s airing, Pontiac sold the first 1,000 numbered vehicles in 41 minutes. Since then, Richer said, around 4,000 additional vehicles have been sold in advance of the Solstice launch. “We saw a 1,400 percent increase in Web traffic after the show, with 40,000 registration forms downloaded,” he noted.

Richer added that the pre-launch sales data would give Pontiac a better “read” on the Solstice consumer. “We found a way to break through to the exact target, that young, progressive professional,” he said.

Detroit-based Pontiac, a division of General Motors, spent $160 million advertising its vehicles in 2004, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. The lead shop is Publicis’ chemistri, Troy, Mich., overseen by executive creative director Tor Myhren at Publicis’ Leo Burnett, Chicago.