What will TV stars Dick Clark and Regis Philbin have in common with General Motors on New Year's Eve? They'll grab the attention of millions of viewers when the famous ball drops in Times Square.
GM has shelled out an undisclosed and undoubtedly staggering amount of dough to unveil the redesigned 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe at New York's New Year's Eve ceremony. That means that when the ball drops, two silver 2007 Tahoes will rise up on each side of it, to the sound of wild cheering and fireworks.
A third Tahoe may whisk one of the evening's singing stars to the stage; arrangements are in the works, GM says.
Why all the hoopla for a vehicle intro? Because if GM's redesigned big SUVs and pickups don't sell this year, the Times Square ball won't be the only thing plunging in 2006.
Sales of the Chevrolet, GMC and Cadillac SUVs start in the first quarter. Pickups arrive later in the year. For ailing GM, the launch and reception of these traditionally high-volume, high-profit models are crucial.
And for a high-stakes game, you put a lot of chips on the table.
"This is a very different way to launch a product -- especially one as important as the Tahoe," Kim Kosak, general director of advertising and sales promotion for Chevrolet, told Automotive News. "I am hoping that after people watch the New Year's Eve broadcasts, they will say 'I've got to go to a Chevrolet dealership and check out the new Tahoe.' "
To help, Kosak said Chevrolet is launching its next series of American Revolution commercials, called "Handoff," on New Year's Eve on all major networks. The 60-second spots feature different Chevrolet products zipping around and bouncing a ball from one vehicle to the next. The ball finally lands on a Tahoe that punts it to Times Square, where it lights up the big New Year's Eve ball.
Kosak wouldn't say how much GM is spending on the product placement and commercials. She did say the company has bought up virtually every prominent billboard in Times Square, and every available prime TV slot.