Directing Branded Series for GMC and AOL

How GMC is Using the AOL Series ‘Seamlessly She’ Starring Monica Potter to Drive Sales of its Acadia SUV

The genesis of the four-part short-form series “Seamlessly She,” premiering today on AOL, can be traced back to a brainstorming session between GMC and Partner Studio, the branded content arm of AOL.GMC reps said they were interested in doing a series timed to the launch of their 2017 Acadia mid-size SUV — something like the reality show “#CandidlyNicole,” which started out as an AOL web series and made the jump to broadcast TV on VH1.

Of course, “#CandidlyNicole” had already been done, and its star Nicole Richie – who in her younger, badder days made headlines when she was busted for a DUI after being spotted driving the wrong way on the freeway – was not the best candidate for a branded series sponsored by an automaker.

“They loved the interaction [Richie] had with her community,” said Tariq Walker, VP of video for Partner Studio. “But we said, that’s a different audience than what you’re going for in terms of age. You’re looking for the disciplined achievers and you want someone who represents that community. It seems like 80% of requests we get are [targeting] millennials. But this was about who is going to buy this Acadia and who is going to benefit from this information and the association.”

So they brainstormed some more and finally settled on actress Monica Potter (“ConAir,” “Patch Adams,” NBC’s “Parenthood”), who has two Monica Potter Home retail stores in her native Ohio that sell bath, beauty and textile products ranging from Sea Buckthorn Balm and soy candles to linen pinafores.

“She’s an entrepreneur, she’s down-to-earth, she’s a mother,” said Walker. “She’s doing these things that are very in-line with the Acadia ethos.”

Potter also has a new HGTV show, “Welcome Back Potter,” premiering in the fall, in which she renovates her childhood home in the town of Garrettsville, providing a strong promotional tie-in.

“That doesn’t hurt,” admitted Walker.

For her part, Potter wanted to make sure that the show’s sponsor jibed with her personal brand, which is home-y and down-to-earth.

“I didn’t want everyone to think, ‘She’s got the perfect life.’ Hell, no,” said Potter. “It’s okay if I look a little harried and hurried, because that’s real.”

“Seamlessly She” follows Potter around her hometown as she goes from her stores to local haunts like the Cleveland Playhouse, where she first studied acting, and takes her daughter Molly on a fishing trip, where they use her late father’s tackle box.

“It was almost like an extension of what we did for HGTV, and it was so much fun because I got to do it with family and people that I worked with, my team at the store, and reconnect with people that I had known in the past,” said Potter.

For GMC and AOL, the set-up provided ample opportunity to seamlessly integrate the Acadia.

“She’s looking for things for her home design store in the Cleveland area, so it makes sense that she would go pick a thing up [with the Acadia],” said Walker. “There was no direct endorsement, like, ‘Hey, I’m going to use the navigation system.’ Circumstances provided. If you’re carrying a crate to the car, you’re going to use the hands-free lift gate. It just makes sense. You don’t have to call it out.”

It’s unclear if “Seamlessly She” will sell the public on the GMC Acadia, but it’s already closed the deal with Potter.

“I wanted to take it home, but they didn’t give it to me,” she said