GM Targets Women in Product Placement Blitz

GMC Acadia

I’m guessing there aren’t a lot of fans of Jennifer Love Hewitt’s Ghost Whisperer reading this blog.

I have to admit that I’m a big fan, though, and not just because of some of the low-cut dresses Ms. Hewitt sometimes wears.

On a recent episode, Hewitt’s character was surprised by her husband with a new GMC Acadia, which she gushed over. The car has since been worked seamlessly into many scenes, consistently showing the bold GMC logo.

And so goes the subtle nature of product placement advertising. According to the Detroit News, this is the kind of advertising we can expect from GM, rather than flashy and expensive Super Bowl ads.

The reason?

Women. The female demographic makes up 51 percent of car buyers, yet the majority of car advertising is spent on sports-related programming. By integrating product into TV shows that women watch and can relate to, the hope is that they can identify with the characters and see themselves driving similar vehicles.

Does it work? Just consider this: As I was watching the Ghost Whisperer episode mentioned above, my wife said, “Oo, that’s a nice-looking car. What is that?”

I’ve certainly never heard her say that about a car shown in an ad during the Final Four. In my mind, there is no question that GM is making a smart advertising move here, at least to generate awareness of its products.

There is a flip side, though, that makes me nervous: TV shows becoming weekly 30 to 60 minute advertisements. The show Medium recently featured the GMC Terrain, and the response was less-than-stellar. That same Detroit News article quoted this angry viewer:

When the main character starts admiring the vehicle features as part of the show, the line has been crossed. I hope other viewers out there recognize this and stop watching Medium until an appology (sic) is made by the show and CBS.

I have to agree with that. Tolerating subtle product placement is one thing, but there is a line that separates TV entertainment from TV advertisements. GM is choosing to walk that line of modern advertising, and the results can be great, if it stays on the right side.

How do you feel about vehicle product placement in your favorite TV shows?



  1. @Hollerin
    I figured I’d get called out on my secret TV show addiction. It’s cheesy and dumb, but still for some reason I like watching the ghosts cause trouble. Actually, it’s a show that I assume GM has been involved with for a long time- Hewitt drove a Saturn Outlook for a while before switching to the Acadia.

  2. Sorry, but I have to ask. What do you like about Ghost Whisperer other than Jennifer Love Hewitt’s occasional low-cut dresses?

    I also can’t help but wonder if whoever’s in charge of working on product placement in TV shows for GM is a woman and/or a very different person than whoever buys GM’s TV and magazine ads.

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