Buick is targeting affluent multicultural people and foodies in new TV product placements.
The brand has bought a product placement deal to feature its 2015 Enclave crossover in several episodes of ABC's hit comedy "black-ish," which airs on Wednesday nights.
It will also feature the Regal GS sports sedan on Season 3 of Esquire Network's reality show "Knife Fight," starting May 26.
"With any of these integrations, they allow us to be organically woven into a story line," said Molly Peck, Buick's marketing manager. "We get the benefit of being part of the program, so people are actually watching it as opposed to advertising where viewers often don't watch it."
Peck said it also allows a consumer to visualize themselves in a Buick if they relate to the show's storyline. "Both shows have high talk value and we like that. People talk about it and you see a lot of social media with it," Peck added.
"Black-ish" reaches an "affluent, multicultural audience," Peck said. The brand wants to confront, "viewers' false familiarity with the Buick brand and challenge people into saying, 'Wow, that's not the Buick I know!'" Peck said.
Buick chose "black-ish" because it is achieving high ratings and averages almost 8 million viewers a week, Peck said. It has high viewership among African-Americans, she added.
The product placement first appeared in the April 29 episode in which the lead character, Dre, is driving a 2015 Enclave crossover.
Later, Dre tells his advertising agency colleagues about spotting his underage daughter driving a car while he was out testing the Enclave for their new Buick account. Buick is mentioned several more times throughout the episode as part of the story line.
Buick worked "very closely" with the show's creator, Kenya Barris, and writers to provide them an understanding of Buick and "our objectives," Peck said.
The Enclave starts at $39,975, including shipping.
"Knife Fight" is a cooking competition that challenges chefs to create dishes with unusual ingredients -- for example, sea snails, a whole goat and even crickets. Host and chef Ilan Hall will drive a Regal GS in all 15 episodes this season in search of the latest secret ingredients, Peck said.
Buick and the network are also debuting a short-form series called "Eat Like a Man." The five 30-second vignettes send viewers on adventures with chefs Hall and Kris Morningstar. The two explore trendy Brooklyn restaurants in the Encore while using many of the vehicle's key features. These will run during episodes of "Knife Fight."
It's not Buick's first foray into culinary shows and events. Buick was the sponsor of "Best New Restaurant" on Bravo earlier this year. It also took its vehicles to events such as the South Beach Wine & Food Festival in Miami in February and Vegas Uncork'd in Las Vegas earlier last month.
The 2015 Regal GS starts at $38,310, including shipping.
This year, sales of the Enclave are down 11 percent to 17,252 through April. Sales of the Regal are down 26 percent to 6,029 through April.
Peck said product placement will work to help drive sales upward.
For example, Buick has had a product placement deal with ABC's "Castle" in which the lead character drives a Buick Regal sedan. Data show that purchase consideration rose by 40 percent due to that show, Peck said.
And data show Buick's experiential marketing at events such as food and wine festivals generates sales leads.
"They definitely are working," Peck said. "We know that Buick's biggest challenge is that people are surprised and delighted to find out we make this full line of cars and crossovers. So showing them what we have builds instant brand affinity for Buick."