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Old 02-11-2009, 07:29 AM   #1
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GM looks to cash in on 'Transformers' sequel

February 11, 2009


GM looks to cash in on 'Transformers' sequel

BY TIM HIGGINS
FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER (Detroit)

CHICAGO -- General Motors Corp. plans to unveil today five concept vehicles starring in the upcoming summer blockbuster sequel "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" -- a marketing move the struggling automaker is hoping will boost its image at a critical time.

The automaker is revealing the concepts during the Chicago Auto Show, which is open to the news media through Thursday.

The first "Transformers" movie, two summers ago, about alien robots that disguise themselves as cars and trucks was a marketing bonanza for GM, which had several Chevrolet vehicles in the film playing lead roles.

Consumer opinions of the Chevrolet brand jumped 72% after seeing the movie, according to internal statistics GM shared with the Free Press. More importantly, consideration for the brand increased 14% after the movie.

Steve Tihanyi, GM's general director of media operations and branded entertainment, said that having products in a movie provides "two hours of a strong brand message" and one "that's going to resonate with customers."

"The numbers will bear that out," he said.

Marketing experts say the new movie, which is to be released June 26, is an efficient way for GM to attempt to improve its image after its disastrous run in Washington late last year. The automaker is staying afloat with a $13.4-billion federal rescue package and is undergoing dramatic changes including the announcement Tuesday of 10,000 salaried jobs being cut. The company's sales were down 22.7% last year.

"When you are looking to change your image then the best way ... is with what appears to be nonpaid promotion," said Christie Nordhielm, associate professor of marketing at the University of Michigan.

"You want to stay clear of advertising. The more that it steers toward product placement and you get the product appearing with the people you want to reach, the better off you are," she said. "For image change, there is really no other way to go."

Tihanyi said that GM did not pay to have its vehicles in this summer's movie. Rather, the automaker provides the vehicles to be used and helps in the promotion of the film. To GM, he said, the movie looked like "a one in a million opportunity."

The big question for GM is whether a sequel can replicate the marketing magic found during the first "Transformers."

Director Michael Bay was excited to turn to GM again for the sequel. He worked with Ed Welburn, GM vice president of global design, who gave Bay a special tour of GM's Warren design center. Bay used the time to pick out concept vehicles he wanted to feature in the new movie.

"I'll never forget this. He asked for a pad of paper, because there were far more cars then he had anticipated that he thought would have or could have a role in this movie, vehicles that he thought were just absolutely right for the movie and would be relevant for his audience," Welburn said in an interview this week. He declined to say, however, which vehicles would appear.

People familiar with the plans say the Camaro returns and will be joined by Chevrolet Volt, an electric-drive vehicle planned for late 2010; the Chevrolet Spark, which will hit the U.S. market in 2011, and Chevrolet Trax, a concept car.

In addition, popular automotive Internet sites, such as Jalopnik.com, say GM made a special 50th edition Corvette Stingray for the movie.

The company is likely to benefit this summer from the new Chevrolet Camaro's continued role in the movie. The muscle car hits showrooms this spring, just in time for the summer movie.

GM says that following the release of the "Transformers" on DVD, the company received more than 500,000 requests for more information about the Camaro, two years before it hit the showrooms.

Consumers' opinion of the Camaro, which plays the role of one of the movie's heroes called Bumblebee, improved 97% after seeing the movie, according to GM's numbers.

"Camaro, you could argue, is a product that's going to have a lot of natural interest anyways, but when you actually go into the science of it, you saw some incredible lifts here," Tihanyi said of the marketing benefits behind the movie.

"The 'Transformers' represent heroic characters. Bumblebee ends up being a genuinely heroic character which is ... how we wanted to position the Camaro, as this heroic car, an iconic American car," he added.

Because the movie is a sequel, however, there's a chance the marketing campaign won't be as successful.

"I don't think they will get the same lift as they got the first time," Nordhielm said. "In this case, the first-mover advantage is tied with breaking through the clutter and not just breaking through clutter but breaking through and making a connection and getting past the defenses of the consumer. The consumer adapts."

That said, she agreed with others that the campaign could be an efficient way to improve GM's image this summer.

Contact TIM HIGGINS at 313-222-8784 or thiggins@freepress.com.
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Old 02-11-2009, 07:52 AM   #2
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So the official announcement of the corvette concept will be unveiled this Thursday,,,cool
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Old 02-11-2009, 08:10 AM   #3
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Something that may help build image with GM in their financial struggle.
Dang, this summer for the movie .... Dang, this summer or later for my 2ss.... Dang, I sure am looking forward to summer....
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Old 02-11-2009, 09:22 AM   #4
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Something that may help build image with GM in their financial struggle.
Dang, this summer for the movie .... Dang, this summer or later for my 2ss.... Dang, I sure am looking forward to summer....
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Old 02-11-2009, 09:50 AM   #5
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I just wish GM would take the next step and offer Transformer versions of ALL their cars that star in the movie. It's just wasted opportunity. I tried to talk some sense into John Fitzpatrick a few months ago and he agreed it would be a positive move but maybe his hands are tied.
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Old 02-11-2009, 09:53 AM   #6
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I just wish GM would take the next step and offer Transformer versions of ALL their cars that star in the movie. It's just wasted opportunity. I tried to talk some sense into John Fitzpatrick a few months ago and he agreed it would be a positive move but maybe his hands are tied.
Good point! That makes total sense.
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Old 02-11-2009, 11:12 AM   #7
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I bet the guys at GM wanna make the same cars from the movies, but how drivable would they really be?

I mean the Camaro concepts wheels were too big, roof was too low, sideview mirrors were too small, and back fenders were too high for a production vehicle. Even the interior was too simplistic to cover all of things drivers need behind the wheel.

Also, there is always the aftermarket. I plan on getting a V6 Camaro and finding a hood similar to the new bumblebee hood.

I wanna see that new Vette though most of all.
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Old 02-11-2009, 11:16 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by gtownCJA View Post
I bet the guys at GM wanna make the same cars from the movies, but how drivable would they really be?

I mean the Camaro concepts wheels were too big, roof was too low, sideview mirrors were too small, and back fenders were too high for a production vehicle. Even the interior was too simplistic to cover all of things drivers need behind the wheel.

Also, there is always the aftermarket. I plan on getting a V6 Camaro and finding a hood similar to the new bumblebee hood.

I wanna see that new Vette though most of all.
We are talking about an appearance package. Paint, wheels and a Transformer logo on the center part of the steering wheel.
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Old 02-11-2009, 11:27 AM   #9
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At least for Bumblebee, you might be able to get those overpriced 21 inch wheels from GMPP that are also on the Dale Jr. car. I'll bet something similar comes in the aftermarket.

The paint on the concepts I have read are very expensive as well, but that yellow is better than the rally yellow they offer on the production. Plus the stripes that go past the air vent on both versions of bumblebee. Now I gotta paint mine on....

A Transformer logo would be sweet. I would like the ability to switch between Autobot and Decepticon.

Whatever the case, GM has got to stop teasing us with these movie vehicles, even though the production models are awesome.
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Old 02-11-2009, 11:29 AM   #10
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transformers
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Old 02-11-2009, 11:37 AM   #11
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Old 02-11-2009, 11:38 AM   #12
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I can't wait to see the movie! More rubber burning action and sweet explosions! And the Corvette Centennial!
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Old 02-11-2009, 11:43 AM   #13
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Of course they're going to cash in... this is HUGE... for Ford too, Barricade is a little bastard, but a very cool car.
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Old 02-11-2009, 11:49 AM   #14
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http://jalopnik.com/5151539/transfor...?autoplay=true

Imbedded video from Jalopnik. Just came up on their site and shows GMs vehicles in the movie.
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