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Winter 2000: GM Rich-Media Ad Creates Deeper Impressions, Helps Raise Money for Breast Cancer

General Motors (GM) recent foray into online rich-media, or broadband advertising, proved so successful that the world's largest automobile company plans to roll out similar campaigns in the future.

The interactive ad, which runs 24 minutes, if played out, debuted last August on @Home network channels, ran on GM's Web site for a month (, ( and can still be seen on Apple's QuickTime site (

According to Terry Beltran-Miller, GM strategic interactive marketing manager, the ad, created by Los Angeles-based Digital Domain, was designed to accomplish a number of advertising, marketing and public service objectives.

For the past three years GM and the Council of Fashion Designers of America have teamed up to fight breast cancer through Concept: Cure. This year, the collaboration paired various GM vehicles with top fashion designers, who applied their unique talents to create one-of-a-kind luxury vehicles, each worth more than $50,000.

Five Concept: Cure vehicles were featured on @Home's Lifestyles channels: Chevy Venture by Nicholas Graham for Joe Boxer (Games, Technology); Chevy Cavalier Convertible by BCBG Max Azria (Chat, Webwaste); Pontiac Grand Am by Dana Buchman (Finance, Shopping); GMC Sierra by Joseph Abboud (News, Sports); and Oldsmobile Alero by Vivienne Tam (Weather, Pop Arts).

"We wanted to test the effectiveness of rich-media ads online and provide consumers with an engaging broadband experience," Beltran-Miller said. "The ad not only helped the program raise $2.6 million to help fight breast cancer, but allowed consumers to experience a wealth of information not possible within the constraints of traditional broadcast television advertising -it permitted the consumer to become an active participant rather than just a passive viewer."

The ad was a mix of video, audio and interactive elements and was targeted at females between 18 and 54. GM worked closely with a Digital Domain team (comprised of a director, writers, illustrators, and HTML and compression specialists) to develop the ad, which took three months to develop from conceptualization to the actual photo shoot. QuickTime and Flash technology were utilized. This enabled viewers to see a full-bodied person (a narrator known as 'Bonnie') walking on a Web page who provided viewers with an online 'tour' of the various Concept: Cure vehicles.

"There was a minimum pledge of $10 in order to qualify to win one of the vehicles," Beltran-Miller said. "Viewers could either call a toll-free number posted on the broadband site or make an online donation."

Beltran-Miller added that unlike static online ads, the rich-media ad provided viewers with complete interactivity. While 'Bonnie' waxed eloquent on each of the five vehicles, viewers could simultaneously click on a specific vehicle and obtain information about the fashion designers' unique design contributions.

Although GM declined to divulge any statistical data on the rich-media ad and overall costs ('low six figures,' said Joshua Greer, president of Digital Domain New Media), Beltran-Miller said that the recall average of the ad was greater than narrowband advertising - about 34 percent higher.

"The Concept: Cure ad allowed consumers to create their own interactive experience. Providing consumers with different types of capabilities such as the ability to interact with the host and vehicle features made the journey interesting and resulted in a greater understanding of GM's Concept: Cure program," Beltran-Miller said.

GM isn't the only company cognizant of the impact of rich-media advertising. Jupiter Research recently reported that 60 percent of all online ads will be rich-media enabled by 2002.

Digital Domain's Greer added that rich-media ads like the GM campaign prove that companies can get more bang for their advertising/marketing buck on the Internet rather than a 30-second spot on broadcast TV.

"This campaign not only provided a valuable public service, but it was different from conventional advertising and created an experience for viewers," Greer said. "During the campaign people kept coming back again and again, which is quite unique. You don't find that on television."

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