Imperium fuels MTV Bio-Impala

MTV's Pimp My Ride, April 22

MTV's Pimp My Ride, April 22

Who is your client, and what are its media goals?

Sean Mahoney: Imperium Renewables is one of the country's biggest producers of biodiesel. It wanted to target both the mainstream and business press to raise its corporate profile, while also demonstrating that you needn't sacrifice performance to "go green" with biodiesel.

What made MTV's Pimp My Ride such a good hit? How did you pitch the show's producers?

Mahoney: Pimp My Ride reaches that younger audience we want to educate about what biodiesel is capable of. I began by calling MTV's offices in LA and speaking to an interested production assistant and then followed up with e-mails and calls before we got a meeting with the producers. What clinched it was when we told them how simple the conversion could be and what the performance capabilities of the car would be. It eventually blew the doors off a Lamborghini.

The show ended up running on Earth Day, and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had a cameo. Did you have anything to do with that?

Mahoney: No, it turned out Schwarzenegger was having his personal car modified at the shop where the show does its conversions. When they told him about the 1965 Impala they ended up converting to run on biodiesel, he stopped by because it fit well with his environmental initiatives.

How did you make sure Imperium Renewables didn't get lost in a show about custom car modifications?

Mahoney: MTV was great and sent a crew and one of the hosts, Mad Mike, to Seattle to show how biodiesel is made from canola oil. The show's prop department painted an oil drum, and we placed an Imperium sticker on it to be used when they presented the Impala's owner with a year's supply of biodiesel as part of the episode.

What was the impact of the hit?

Mahoney: It triggered a huge amount of interest from other media. Meanwhile, Imperium announced plans for an IPO and entered a quiet period, so it couldn't take advantage. In the end, everyone there was thrilled.

Name: Sean Mahoney, director, INK Inc. PR (Kansas City, MO)

Placement: MTV's Pimp My Ride, April 22

Pitch timeline: Eight months

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