Chevy Meriva revs up comedy role

Weinbaums to co-star in laffer 'Parace'

BUENOS AIRES — It’s not “The Love Bug,” but a Chevrolet Meriva will get a shot at stardom in a TV miniseries in Argentina — thanks to an estimated $200,000 deal with the automaker.

It will appear in second-ranked Artear-Canal 13’s “No es lo que parace” (It’s Not What It Seems) in November.

The three-hour comedy is about an architect trying to cover up the prison past of his brother and mother, who’ve come to stay in his gated-community home. And, of course, it will include lots of shots of his nippy Meriva.

The car’s co-stars are Eugenio and Sebastian Weinbaum, the hosts of an extreme sports and travel show on Artear, and their mother Herminia.

Produced by indie production outfit Pol-ka Producciones, Daniel Barone is directing from a script by Marcelo and Walter Slavich, authors of upcoming serial-killer series “Epitaph” on HBO Latin America.

While it invests heavily in product placement, this is only the second time that General Motors Argentina has promoted its cars in an Argentine TV series. Last year, a Chevrolet Astra was a protagonist in four-part suspense drama “Final de Juego” (End Game) on Artear, also produced by Pol-ka.

The series are, in fact, long commercials that provide steady exposure of the cars in use.

“You can’t do that in a 30-second spot,” Guillermo Muro, account manager for Chevrolet at ad agency McCann-Erickson Argentina, tells Variety. “It’s not cheap, but it is effective.”

It’s the latest TV program developed with an advertiser here, as broadcasters and producers, still stinging from the country’s economic collapse last year, offer fresh ways to promote products.

So far this year, broadcasters have only recovered about half the ad revenue they lost during a 35% plunge in ad spending from 2001, according to media-buying firm Brand Connection.

Unilever is the latest to take to the idea. This month, “Lux star, nace una estrella” (Lux Star, A Star Is Born) will launch on Artear. The weekly talent contest for actresses aims to promote Lux, a line of soap made by the Anglo-Dutch consumer-products giant.

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