Pontiac Jumps on Reality TV

D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles takes a page from reality TV in its new campaign for Pontiac.

For the spots, people selected at random were given a week off from work, the keys to a brand-new Pontiac and left to do what ever they wanted with the vehicle. The subjects were followed by cameras as they drove to various activities, such as skydiving and road-tripping to Atlantic City.

“It’s reality television meets marketing,” said Lynn Meyers, Pontiac-GMC general manager.

The campaign was set to break during the Emmys on Sept. 19, but was delayed along with the show to Oct. 7 because of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

It’s D’Arcy’s first work for the General Motors division under chief creative officer Gary Topolewski, who joined the agency in May after a stint at TBWA\Chiat\Day in Playa del Rey, Calif. Topolewski and executive creative director Peter Angelos, hired in June, placed new Pontiac work among their first priorities.

Topolewski said shooting the spots was especially labor intensive, as four creative and camera crews followed each set of subjects. The spots were lensed by Adam Cohen, who directed MTV’s Road Rules.

The tagline, “Pontiac excitement,” gets an addendum for the new campaign: “Pass it on.”

The first pool of ten 30-second spots will run through the end of the year, each directing viewers to Pontiac’s Web site. There, viewers can register for a chance to star in future “reality” spots, said Annette Lloyd, Pontiac director of advertising and sales promotion.

Pontiac declined to discuss spending for the campaign, but media buys include high-profile programming, such as the debut of Survivor Africa, Monday Night Football and prime-time network and cable shows.

Media planning is handled by Interpublic Group unit GM PlanWorks, while media is placed through Starcom’s GM MediaWorks.

GM spent $280 million on Pontiac advertising in 2000 and $120 million during the first half of 2001, according to CMR.