GMC 'Uplifts' First Branding Campaign


GMC is set to launch its first-ever brand campaign, presenting the initiative on DirecTV.

The campaign, highlighted by a pair of 30-second spots, one with Bill Cosby, the other featuring Creed's "Take Me Higher," will bow on DirecTV on June 14 and extend through the balance of the month. The effort will also manifest via social networking, on GMC and DirecTV's Web sites and YouTube.It will also feature a watch-and-win component centering on the off-network drama Early Edition.

Wendy McCoy, vice president of marketing for GMC, which now counts some 47.7 million subscribers, said it was the right time to initiate the branding effort.

"GMC is five years old and the viewers who know it, enjoy our service greatly. We're ranked No. 1 by Beta [in an upcoming study from the research company] as having the highest perceived value," she said. "But as an independent, we have some awareness issues. We need to get the word out more."

McCoy said DirecTV was a logical destination for the campaign. "They are our largest distributor; GMC is available to all DirecTV subscribers on its Choice package," she said, noting that GMC's watch-and-win element will be one of the five events touted on the DBS provider's guide during the month of June.

The promos, according to McCoy, were produced internally by vice president of creative services Kevin Wagner and his team and chosen above two others, one of which featured Bill Withers' "Lean on Me."

She said Cosby initially was attracted to GMC because of his love of gospel music, and the network viewed him as the ideal spokesperson to convey the channel's "uplifting family entertainment" brand position.

As for the watch-and-win element, McCoy said GMC picked Early Edition because it's in the middle of the network's primetime, has performed well since it began airing on the service in April, and the 'heat' generated by the show's star. "Kyle Chandler's been hot for a while with Friday Night Lights," she said.

Viewers can pick up a key word during the show and then register online to win $1,000 per day during the series

Monday through Thursday airings throughout the remainder of June. The 30-second spots alert viewers to the watch-and-win contest.

GMC also is preparing a broader-based branding push in late July or early August that will expand via schedules on cable networks, radio and additional online outlets. "We're working on that right now," McCoy said.

McCoy said the service has added over 3 million subscribers over the past 12 months, and expects to top the 50 million mark by the end of 2011. "That's one of our goals," she said, noting that GMC continues in conversations with Cablevision, the lone major holdout from its distribution roster.

Although McCoy said GMC is having "a good upfront," reaching the 50 million plateau is a milestone that carries weight on Madison Avenue and should open up more opportunities for the service.