The G6 Does Oprah
By Andrew Tilin

(Business 2.0) – The midsize-sedan market is jammed bumper-to-bumper with 40 virtually indistinguishable models. So if you want to launch a new one, you need a little something extra to stand out. Luckily for Pontiac, advertising manager Mary Kubitskey had a brainstorm. "I figured Oprah had never given away something as great as a car," she says.

As everyone now knows, Winfrey went along, bestowing a brand-new Pontiac G6 on each of the 276 audience members at her show's fall premiere. During the next 48 hours, the stunt was mentioned by more than 600 media outlets, and "Pontiac G6" quickly became one of the most popular search terms on Google. Frank Zazza, CEO of iTVX, which evaluates product placements, says the coverage had about the same impact as 75 thirty-second commercials and puts its value at $5 million. Best of all, early returns showed the G6 outselling its most direct competitor, Ford's new Five Hundred, by about 20 percent. Says Zazza, "That kind of success is off the charts." — ANDREW TILIN