GM – NBC Product Placement Deal is Their Own Worst Emmy

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago reports that NBC will see Ford's Knight Rider and raise it an everything. In other words, GM has cut a product placement deal that should see the peacock network festooned with GM products, featured in everything from "My Own Worst Enemy" to "Top Gear." Yes, there is that. Anyone harboring the idea that the NBC version of the no-holds-barred British car program will be critical of advertisers' vehicles would do well to clock the fact that this GM – NBC tie-up is worth several tens of millions of dollars. That and the admission that the accord (so to speak) is "not just been about media units, it's also about how we as an advertiser can dig deeper into their brands… and ours." This from Dino Bernacchi, GM's director of marketing alliances and branded entertainment. But the inappropriately-branded car puns don't stop there. "NBC has really been aggressive to promote alternative ideas in-program and around-the-program that leverages multiple touch points. We call it Fusion Marketing— partnering with the creative community around ideas that build relationships with a passionate audience but done through the lens of the entertainment property to showcase the cool, new great cars and trucks we offer. This deal sets a tone for how we'll be approaching this year's upfronts." Hey, at least they're up front about it. Or, as far as viewers are concerned, not.

Robert Farago
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  • Pfingst Pfingst on May 13, 2008

    I seem to remember that Discovery Channel used to show the BBC's Top Gear in the States, minus the "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car" and other features that an American wouldn't get/be interested in (although I like the SIARPC segments). This would have been in 2004 or so. I was hooked immediately. The NBC version could never possibly measure up, because: 1. They can't slag a car, even when it deserves it, because they might piss off advertisers (or potential advertisers!). 2. They have to watch their statements on everything else (immigration, "green" regulations, nanny states, global warming, etc) for the exact same reason. For advertisers, controversy is a bad thing. 3. GE (the parent of NBC) stands to gain a lot of money/business from the global warming hoax; can't have one of the shows on their network telling people it isn't so, even if that's what the commentator truly believes. The honesty that you see on the BBC version, even if you don't agree with what is said, is an important part of what makes Top Gear the great show that it is. 4. Even if they genuinely like a GM product (like the G8 V8, say), you can never be sure if they are saying so because it's true or because it's in their contract with GM. 5. Even if they genuinely don't like a non-GM product, you can never be sure...(same reason). 6. The interplay between the hosts will be very difficult to duplicate. Jeremy, Richard, and James seem like they genuinely like and respect each other, and they perform very well both individually and together. In short, I'm not hopeful. I'll give it a shot, but they'll really surprise me if it's any good.

  • BTEFan BTEFan on May 13, 2008

    Car product placement is a tried and true way of getting the word out about your autos. Its been happnening for years! Desparate Housewives is great for that. YOu will see a car debut at an autoshow and at about the same time someone on the Wives is driving it. Witness Susan Meyers in the latest Volvo XC70, Orson Hodge in the new C70 Convertible, Gabbie's latest Aston, etc etc. NO car seems older than 4 years old (except for Mrs McCluskey's 1989 LTD Crown Victoria). ANd who could forget the Brady Bunch? Mike Brady always had some great big domestic convertible (depending on who sponsored it that year) and Mrs Brady always had the land yacht wagon, great for carrying the whole bunch, and Alice too. It was a pretty special episode when Greg got to borrow the convertible! Have to be careful about which show you sponsor. I will NEVER EVER drive a Chrysler Sebring Conv(even used or as a rental) because Michael Scott drove one and I can't help but think of him and laugh when I see one. I think he is in a PT Cruiser now, which sort of sums up the Chrysler situation.

  • CarShark CarShark on May 13, 2008

    @Katie Puckrik: Top Gear has had seasons of as many as 10 or 11 episodes until Hamster's crash. That was the only time a season lasted only 6 episodes. Another example of product placement that I've seen is Honda on The Price is Right. Now, the popular daytime show hadn't given away a foreign car since Desert Storm, thanks to a decree by host/executive producer/tyrant/sexual harasser/God in his own mind Bob Barker. Since he's retired from the show now, the show has had two shows ( LINK and LINK) where Honda has provided them with cars, as opposed to individual dealers, which is the norm. In the plugs, they make sure to note that the cars are Made in America (especially Ohio, where newbie host Drew Carey is from) and the company is referred to as "American Honda Motor Company." W'ever. I was tired of seeing people play for the same ol' Cobalts and Focii and Calibers anyways.

  • Cammy Corrigan Cammy Corrigan on May 14, 2008

    Carshark, No they didn't. They had 6 episodes in series 7. 2 series BEFORE Hamster's crash.