GM and OnStar on The Real World
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Holmes Report
CEO

GM and OnStar on The Real World

When auto giant General Motors (GM) wanted to increase brand awareness of OnStar with a younger audience, they turned to The Weber Group (TWG) to provide counsel regarding appropriate media outlets.

Paul Holmes

Bunim Murray’s documentary style reality-based program “The Real World” first aired on MTV in 1993 and started a reality-programming phenomenon characterized today by such hit shows as “Survivor” and “The Mole.”  Since its debut, “The Real World” has consistently topped the ratings charts--episodes of the program capture an average of 3.3 million households per week--drawing more viewers in the 12-34 demographic than ABC, CBS, or NBC according to Nielsen Media research data. 
 
When auto giant General Motors (GM) wanted to increase brand awareness of OnStar (a subsidiary of GM that provides subscription based in-vehicle safety and location services) with a younger audience, they turned to The Weber Group (TWG) to provide counsel regarding appropriate media outlets.  After extensive research, TWG identified an opportunity with Bunim Murray productions.   TWG uncovered that in the spring of 1999 the production company was developing a high-tech/wired theme for its New Orleans “Real World” series set to air on MTV in June of 2000. 
 
The program would feature seven young adults living together in a house equipped with various unreleased or cutting-edge technology products. TWG convinced reluctant GM executives that giving an OnStar equipped vehicle to the cast would be an ideal opportunity to reach the young, connected/tech-savvy MTV audience.
 
The product placement of the OnStar equipped vehicle not only introduced the service/technology to a large ‘early adopter’ audience, but also garnered positive press coverage for both the service and GM.  The OnStar equipped vehicle was included in several episodes of “The Real World” New Orleans series that aired in June 2000 – October 2000.
 
OBJECTIVES (NAVIGATING NEW ORLEANS STYLE):
 
  • Secure a product placement for an OnStar equipped vehicle on MTV via Bunim Murray’s program “The Real World.”
  • Leverage the popularity of reality based shows to promote the cutting-edge image of OnStar/GM.
  • Educate a new generation of consumers on one of GM’s premier initiatives--OnStar (in-vehicle safety and location services).
  • Garner publicity for GM and OnStar through the association with MTV/ “The Real World” in entertainment and trade publications.
 
RESULTS
 
OnStar’s debut as the 8th cast member on MTV’s top rated show “The Real World” went beyond the expectations associated with traditional product placement. The cast members consistently utilized the OnStar services on air and expressed how it improved their driving experience, and their overall experience in New Orleans.  The placement also increased exposure for OnStar with the top-tier technology press and helped to secure inclusion of the service in stories in various publications such as: eWeek, Infoworld, and Wired.
 
As a direct result of this placement, OnStar was seen by 26,400,000 of viewers. Additionally, OnStar’s subscription rate increased by .22%.  It is important to note that the increased subscription rate that occurred during this time period should also be attributed to the successful OnStar/Batman integrated marketing campaign that ran during this same time frame.
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