Torrent Sees the Light

LOS ANGELES Pontiac’s last launch of the year, for the new Torrent SUV later this month, illuminates the General Motors brand’s marketing emphasis on design.

That approach began with the Oprah giveaway of 276 G6’s last September and took commercial form in the first ads from its West Coast-imported executive creative director, who changed Pontiac’s conventional cars-on-road spots to a modern display of lights and lines.

“In the past, Pontiac has been known for hard-core performance and muscle,” said Tor Myhren, who was hired in January as ecd by Publicis Groupe’s Leo Burnett, Chicago, from Omnicom Group’s TBWA\Chiat\Day Infiniti team in a move meant to fire up GM’s sales-challenged brand. “We did a lot of research that demonstrated that that image wasn’t speaking to our core audience.”

Myhren said the look designed to distinguish Pontiac commercials, noticeable since his first spots broke in March, meant shooting nothing but shining black vehicles against black backgrounds, letting streaks of color light outline contours and unique features.

Even though two standalone spots will launch the Torrent, the fall campaign will continue to emphasize multiple products in Pontiac’s line, including a 60-second ad featuring the G6, Torrent and Solstice.

“That strategy was extremely successful for us,” said Mark-Hans Richer, marketing director for Pontiac, Detroit. “It was driving twice the vehicle interest for us as the GM average, across the company. So the first time you see Torrent will be its inclusion in the new 60-second family ad, using the same urban art and music theme.” Richer said the dedicated Torrent ads break two weeks after that.

The family ad shows a G6 coursing through a light tunnel that seems to emulate aerodynamic flow tests. It moves through an abstract cityscape where building lights bounce as stereo EQ displays that respond to the music. (Myhren said he was inspired by Apple’s retro-psychedelic display program for listening to iTunes on the computer.) A Torrent then moves through cascading sparks that dance around the vehicle and form walls it breaks through. The modern music—emanating from a partnership with Virgin Records—is by a group called M83. The Solstice emerges in a final lap with a voiceover by Matt Dillon: “Man, this is getting good. Solstice. G6 Coupe. And the all-new Torrent.”

The 30-second Torrent spot resembles the one-minute ad, with city lights highlighting different forms and shapes on the vehicle, to the music of Ringside. Voiceover: “The SUV, remixed and remastered. The first ever Torrent.”

In another 30-second ad, also set in a computer-generated urban environment, street and window lights chase the Torrent. When it finally stops, one light comes down to touch the hood and illuminate the car. Dillon’s voiceover: “Catch it if you can. The first-ever Torrent.”