Astute movie goers might already have noticed that The Good Sam Club’s Good Samaritan-inspired logo has made a serendipitous cameo appearance in one of the season’s hottest Hollywood releases, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.”
In fact, Director Jonathan Mostow uses Good Sam’s impish, smiling logo as a subtle counterbalance to the typically rampant violence in the latest flick showcasing superstar Schwarzenegger, the human hulk and California’s most recent actor-turned-politician who announced Wednesday (August 6) that he’s a Republican candidate to replace Democratic Gov. Gray Davis in an October recall election.
However, from all we can gather, this sensational little bit of publicity had little to do with the frantic world of product placement and public relations and everything to do with luck – the real magic of salesmanship and public relations.
“We didn’t have a whole lot to do with it, other than give them permission to use the logo,’’ explains Sue Bray, president of the Good Sam Club, the world’s largest recreational vehicle enthusiast club, which is owned by the same corporate parent (Affinity Group Inc., Ventura, Calif.) as RV Business and RVBUSINESS.com. “They didn’t pay us and we didn’t pay them.’’
Nevertheless, as off-the-wall PR coups go, this was a fortunate one, given the movie’s popularity and the explosion of Schwarzenegger’s persona in the national press after he put aside weeks of speculation and – to the surprise of many – again announced his candidacy on Wednesday’s (Aug. 6) “The Tonight Show,’’ telling host Jay Leno that the decision was the toughest he’s had to make since 1978 when he decided to have himself bikini-waxed.
In the movie, in case you wondered, Schwarzenegger once again is sent by rebels from the future to protect the one human being who can save the world – this time from a female cyborg sent from the future by machines that rule the Earth. After crashing a hearse, Arnold tells his crew in his decidedly Austrian accent,  ”We need another vehicle.’’ They drive to a desert campground, where Scharzenegger and crew commandeer a motorhome. As Arnold stacks his weapons on a picnic table before loading them into the coach, Good Sam’s smiling logo appears prominently over his shoulder.
“It’s a very nice metaphor,’’ Bray adds. “The good terminator – the Good Sam.’’
While Good Sam garnered some gratis publicity in the movie – the kind of exposure for which large corporations generally negotiate big contracts – chances for an enhanced relationship between the Terminator and the southern California-based RV owners club aren’t imminent, at least on the short-haul. Bray reports that Schwarzenegger has declined to accept a free membership in the club.
“I’ve been very sweetly declined,’’ she added.