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General Motors Company Wants to Win the Sochi Olympics

By John Rosevear – Feb 11, 2014 at 9:33AM

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Why GM is spending big to advertise during the Winter Olympics.

GM's Olympic ad blitz will include spots that feature the diesel version of the Cruze. Officially called the Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel, the oil-burning compact has been a surprise success for GM since its U.S. introduction last year. Photo credit: General Motors.

Unlike in some past years, General Motors (GM -1.31%) didn't have much of a presence during the Super Bowl. While Ford and Toyota and even Maserati had splashy ads that got viewers' attention, GM's main ad was a subdued entry honoring cancer survivors.

That surprised some observers, who thought GM might want to use the Super Bowl to tout its much-improved lineup of cars and trucks. But it turns out that GM was planning to spend its ad dollars elsewhere: at the Olympics.

GM has spent big to promote its Chevy and Cadillac brands throughout the 17 days of the Winter Olympics. As Fool contributor John Rosevear explains in this video, that's a gamble for the General -- but it could turn out to be a good one.

A transcript follows the video.

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Hey, Fools, it's John Rosevear. So we saw the Super Bowl last weekend, and unlike some years, no one automaker really stood out in the advertising. We heard from Ford and Jeep and Hyundai and Toyota and a few others, even Maserati, I still love that Maserati did a Super Bowl ad. But Chevrolet had just a subdued spot, a tribute to cancer survivors.

Well, let me tell you, if you're planning to watch the Olympics, I think it's going to be a very different deal. You're going to be hearing an awful lot about Chevrolet and Cadillac. GM won't say how much it has spent to buy airtime during the Olympics, but word on the street is that they bought a whole lot. Apparently the Chevrolet brand alone has 500 ad slots over the 17 days of the Winter Olympics, all set to air on NBC and NBC-owned networks. There are eight different Chevy commercials set to run, and the Detroit News is reporting that they'll focus on the Cruze, including the Cruze Diesel, which was new last year; the Malibu; the Impala sedan; the Volt; and the Equinox and Traverse, Chevy's kid-haulers.

And you may have seen during the opening ceremonies on Friday, there's a new 60-second Chevy ad that features several different Chevy vehicles. There are also a bunch of Cadillac commercials set to appear, featuring the all-new 2014 CTS sedan and the 2014 ELR, which is a sleek new hybrid coupe that is based on the same technology as the Chevy Volt.

This seems like a good move for GM. They were also a major advertiser during the 2010 Winter Olympics; the Olympics draw a wide audience, including some folks who don't watch much TV otherwise.

So how big is this ad buy? We don't know for sure, like I said. The Detroit News had an estimate that there will be 5,500 TV ad minutes over the course of the Olympics, and so that's 11,000 30-second slots, and if if Chevy has 500 of them, and some of those will be 60-second slots, I think it's fair to say you'll be seeing quite a few Chevy ads, but it won't be wall-to-wall coverage.

So something to be watching for if you're watching the Olympics this week, and we'll be looking at how well these ads play out for GM over the next few months. Thanks for watching, and Fool on.

John Rosevear owns shares of Ford and General Motors. The Motley Fool recommends Ford and General Motors and owns shares of Ford. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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