Pontiac Backs N.Y. Comedy Festival

NEW YORK General Motors’ Pontiac has returned as the title sponsor of the third annual New York Comedy Festival, slated to begin Nov. 7, according to Alliance, the agency that has coordinated the event since its 2004 inception.

“For the first time, the brand will be a character in the show,” said Jarrod Moses, CEO of New York-based Alliance, a division of Grey Global Group.

The comics performing at eight different venues in New York through Nov. 11 won’t be expected to make references to Pontiac or the other sponsors, Geico and Target. However, Moses said there would be opportunities for consumers to engage with Pontiac at this year’s event via “PlayStation-like kiosks” set up outside Madison Square Garden, one of the venues, allowing attendees to experience the interiors of the 2007 models.

Other venues include Avery Fisher Hall, Carnegie Hall and the Museum of Television & Radio. Top-name comics such as Dane Cook, Denis Leary, Brian Regan, Artie Lange, Jim Norton, Mario Cantone and Howie Mandel are set to perform.

Jimmy Fallon and celebrity chef Mario Batali will appear at two festival-related benefits that week, Moses said, adding that more than 100,000 tickets have already been sold, compared to 30,000 last year.

The festival was the idea and creation of Caroline Hirsch, the owner of Caroline’s, a comedy club in Times Square, and Moses, who saw it as a marketing and fundraising opportunity.

This year, Alliance, which devised the marketing plan, worked with New York boutique DZP, which created the logo and print ads.

Moses estimated that the marketing package for last year’s festival cost about $1 million and generated 312 million media impressions for Pontiac, which he said is equivalent to about $4.6 million in total media value.

“That’s how much it would cost to buy that much exposure, compared to the actual cost of the total package,” said Moses.