October 29, 2010 / 7:44 AM / 8 years ago

Univision revs up brand integration with GM

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Univision is seeking to take brand integration to another level with primetime novela “Eva Luna,” which launches Monday and weaves no fewer than three General Motors vehicles into its story lines.

Chevrolet unveils its 2011 Cruze at the New York International Auto Show in New York March 31, 2010. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

“Eva Luna,” which also features Domino’s Pizza and T-Mobile as brand integration partners, treats vehicles like characters and provides a two-way integration of sorts.

On the show, Latin movie star Blanca Soto’s protagonist Eva works at an L.A. advertising agency and wins the Buick Regal account, and her team then creates a commercial for it. The spot, the first Spanish-language TV ad for the GM vehicle, will not only be part of the show, it will regularly air on Univision and sister networks TeleFutura and Galavision.

Two other GM vehicle brands, both Chevrolets, also will be featured and get distinct personalities. The Chevy Cruze will appear in key scenes of the love story between Eva and Daniel (novela heartthrob Guy Ecker), while the Chevy Traverse will play the role of a trusted companion helping Daniel and those closest to him at key moments.

“We have just set a benchmark for what we can do in terms of integration in a primetime dramatic production,” said David Lawenda, Univision Communications president of ad sales & marketing. “We worked with (GM) to really weave their vehicles into the storyline as key characters with vivid roles and distinct personalities.”

While GM has bought ads and done integrations with Univision before, “We have never done anything to this extent and depth,” said Steve Tihanyi, general director, branded entertainment & marketing alliances at GM. “This is really a big step forward for us in terms of the (ever-growing) Hispanic audience and really connecting.”

As part of that, GM also will be the exclusive auto sponsor of the “Eva Luna” site on www.univision.com and present the series’ Moment of the Week there.

Said Tihanyi: “We wanted to elevate (this) to a whole new level of integration, way beyond product placement.”

As part of that, local dealers also will run promotions that play off what happens on the show, he said.

The companies aren’t disclosing financial aspects of the arrangement.

As far as other brands on “Eva Luna,” Domino’s will be integrated into the series and sponsor preshow teasers, reminding viewers to order their pizza in time for the show.

T-Mobile USA will get brand vignettes during key moments of the novela and showcase new mobile devices within the novela. Current subscribers also can get exclusive show content on their handsets.

There’s a fourth undisclosed integrated sponsor for the show.

To improve brands’ ability to reach a broad audience, full episodes of “Eva Luna” will be available online the day after they air on TV.

Univision said the creatives on the series and the brand partners are focused on ensuring all integrations seem natural. “You do have to respect the creative process,” GM’s Tihanyi echoed. “But we do pay attention to such things as someone getting into the car without putting the seat belt on ... or someone getting in to drink.”

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