MAMMOTH LAKES, CA: General Motors is working with Flip on PR for GMC’s sponsorship of Elevation Mammoth, the third-largest annual gay ski week in North America.
As the first external PR agency GMC brought on to help with West Coast LGBT communications, Flip works with the truck brand on a project-by-project basis. Elevation Mammoth, which is being held March 12-16 in Mammoth Lakes, CA, is the first GMC project Flip is supporting after it was hired in December.
GMC’s sponsorship is the largest brand activation in the history of the event, according to Flip SVP and director Tom Whitman, who also produces and runs the event. The festival is expected to draw 2,500 participants, he added.
"Our primary business goal is brand awareness," said Joe LaMuraglia, GM’s broadcast, lifestyle, and LGBT communications manager. "If you ask any LGBT consumer, what is a gay-friendly brand or company? GMC is not at the top of the list. But as a company, we are incredibly gay friendly; we do more outreach to the gay community than any other car company."
Active, sports-enthusiast members of the LGBT community are the main audience target.
"We aren’t targeting the typical urban gay executive," said Whitman. "There are gay families, LGBT people who like going on hikes – there is a broad spectrum of gay people."
The outreach strategy is comprised of a social media campaign both before and during the event. Attendees and influencers will get an opportunity to post pictures and videos and engage the brand about LGBT community support and GMC vehicles, as well as to enter contests via social media. One contest, for example, awards influencers a vehicle on loan for a week."We are not necessarily trying to get media coverage on our sponsorship of this event; we are more interested in trying to influence the influencers," said LaMuraglia. "We are trying to be as organic and authentic as possible."
GMC display vehicles will be parked in high-traffic areas throughout the festival. Influencers including DJs and performers will also be chauffeured to the event in GMC vehicles, and a GMC Base Camp will serve drinks to guests.
Although LaMuraglia noted that upwards of 75% of the LGBT community wants to spend money with companies that support it, he does not want consumers to think GMC has "checked off a box" by sponsoring an LGBT event.
"Our approach to LGBT is as diverse as the LGBT group itself, which is comprised of all races, genders, and religious affiliations," he said. "We don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach to this community."
LaMuraglia could not disclose the campaign’s budget, but noted that it is limited.
GMC also brought on FleishmanHillard in January as the first agency to help its LGBT comms on the East Coast. GMC also works with the Omnicom Group agency on a project-by-project basis.
The company’s in-house comms team has led gay-friendly campaigns for several years, according to LaMuraglia. In 2012, when its Fort Wayne, IN, plant raised a rainbow flag in honor of gay pride month, it received backlash from some staffers and local press.
In the past year, Flip has done LGBT PR work for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Alaska Airlines, AT&T, AquaHydrate, and Aids Project LA.