GM Takes a Ride at Disney

Car Maker to Widely Promote ‘Test Track’ Attraction
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.–General Motors will leverage its Walt Disney World Test Track thrill ride in a variety of advertising and marketing efforts both nationally and regionally, according to Phil Guarascio, GM’s vice president of advertising and corporate marketing.
A 30-second TV spot from corporate agency N.W. Ayer, New York, focusing on the ride broke last week. “It’s a very different kind of corporate ad than you usually see,” Guarascio said. “It’s very fun advertising. We got a tremendous reaction from consumers in testing.”
Test Track, at Walt Disney’s Epcot here, opened last week after an 18-month delay due to engineering complications. It recreates GM’s Milford, Mich., proving ground where cars in development are tested. The ride lasts about five and a half minutes–it is Disney’s longest and fastest ride–but the 45-minute wait in line is also a GM promotion, as it takes visitors through a mock vehicle testing facility.
In addition to corporate and regional advertising and promotions, GM is considering national ads that would link the attraction to specific brands, Guarascio said. That work would include a fourth-quarter Buick Century millennium effort handled by McCann-Erickson, Troy, Mich., Buick’s national agency.
“The national agencies are learning to work with resources [like Test Track] that are not their own,” Guarascio said. “Our event marketers will never know the brands as well as the agencies.”
An attraction like Test Track has extra value under GM’s new regional marketing restructuring, Guarascio said. “Not only can we work this on a divisional and a national basis, it [is powerful] in the Southeastern region.” Disney has a similar situation in its relationship with Disney on the West Coast, he added.
Other promotions are being planned for Test Track by GM’s Eventworks unit and the recently created Interpublic Group unit R*Works, he said. GM is also looking to see if it can take parts of Test Track on the road to help create some of the experience for consumers who can’t make it to Disney World, he added.
GM has a 10-year deal with Walt Disney World for Test Track. Financial terms were undisclosed.