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Buick Bets on NCAA

Maker plans to highlight athletes who reach out to community.

by on Mar.15, 2011

Buick Vice President Tony DiSalle announces the launch of the Buick Human Highlight Reel - a collection of inspiring stories about athletes' efforts in their communities.

Speeches and Powerpoint presentations are the stuff automotive news conferences are normally made of.  So it came as a bit of a surprise to find some of General Motors’ top marketing officials washing the feet of some young schoolkids and then helping the children pick out new shoes.

But it was all part of an event designed to reveal the Buick brand’s new “Human Highlight Reel,” a project that will be part of the new tie-in between the GM luxury marque and the NCAA.

The maker has signed on as the core automotive sponsor of the college sports association, but the goal is to sidestep the usual clichés that mark sports tie-ins, explains Craig Bierley, Buick’s marketing director.

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“Rather than the typical play-of-the-week highlight,” he explained to, “We want to tell the story of NCAA athletes that have gone on to do good things in the community.”

Those include Avery Jukes, who was a college basketball star, in 2010, and who went on to create a charitable foundation operating in both the U.S. and his native Uganda.

Then there’s Emmanuel “Manny” Ohonme, a former University of North Dakota player who’s Samaritan’s Feet charity hopes to provide 10 million children with shoes.  The news conference was followed by a program to provide shoes to 150 needy Detroit youngsters.