Jury is out on GM’s new marketing effort


General Motors Co.’s most recent marketing effort has taken off in the form of a 60-day return policy and a :60 second spot featuring Chairman Whitacre.

Both the automotive and communications industry pundits have had a lot to say about the commercial featuring Mr. Whitacre and I think it fair to say that most of it has been critical.  Bob Lutz’s defense of using Whitacre struck an odd cord when he said that “we were looking for was a highly credible spokesperson who would be a new fresh face” and followed up by describing Whitacre as  “the new guy in town. He’s tall, good looking, has impeccable white hair and has this nice soft Texas drawl and limps a little bit when he walks, which sort of gives him this old cowboy look.” (Advertising Age 9/10/09)

I’m not sure that did much to build his credibility, but I think we need to wait before we pass judgment on this marketing program.

In Automotive News on September 10th, the Whitacre spot was put into context:

“The spot will set up a wider TV campaign featuring commercials about each of GM’s four surviving brands: Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac.”

We need to wait to see the brand commercials before we pass judgment.  If these commercials actually define these brands and begin to establish clear identities for each then I think the company is moving in the right direction.  I don’t think it is enough to simply say the products are as good as the other guys’ and there’s a fail-safe 60-day return program.   Americans need to know what these brands stand for.

The Whitacre spot may not be great, but if it leads to communications that begin to give the brands meaning and leverage then that will have been a step forward

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