Marty’s Marketing Minutia

Argumentative, accolades and artifacts

by on Jun.05, 2009

New GM reinvention commercial continues previous arrogance

Guess who?

Guess who?

This week I’ve seen new commercials and videos produced for Government Motors, err, the new General Motors that are as arrogant, audacious and asinine as any produced ever by a company known for being arrogant, audacious and asinine! 

Well, at least twice in previous years, Gilded Motors emitted an electronic commercial stench on the airwaves: Once for their off-price commercial following 9/11, which I panned as the ad critic for Automotive News; the second for the introduction of the Silverado truck. In this campaign, Gaffe Motors assembled a kaleidoscope of cliché images and trucks as John Mellencamp sang “This is our Country” as a slap at the competition for their trucks. Hokey. Awful. Terrible It was satirized on SNL it was so bad. The comb-over of commercials. 

For the current Gasping Motors offerings during Chapter 11 proceedings — and they aren’t even out yet — so it must be Gratuitous Motors.  but be forewarned to have a commercial sickness bag handy. 

Millions – workers, retirees, dealers, suppliers, stockholders and others — are in the ceramic financial receptacle without relief possible. Businesses are closing throughout America. Entire communities are devastated. Philanthropic institutions, the arts, sports, and other worthy causes are or will be bereft. There are years – yes, years of pain lie in the future for millions. And it’s all quite legal. 

And we America’s taxpayers who will own ~62% of the wreck that needed to be scrapped (read John DeLorean’s book) are asked to believe the new company has changed. Ha! GM’s new commercial gives us the new chapter two version of previous corporate arrogance, hubris and more of what caused the demise of the company. Just more of the same, but done by a new ad agency. 

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The specious platitudes in the commercial including, continue the old GM management – and failed — style without substance. There are more examples of GM-speak with lack of action, much less sincerity. Hell, the guys that ran Gigantic Motors are the very ones who destroyed it. Where’s the change? Oh, I know it’s PR spin combined with advertising hype and an overt case of denial. 

When I was very new in the business world and screwed something up, avoiding, evading, in fact refusing to admit the error was not just wrong, it was stupid and would get me fired. Admit the mistake and sincerely say it won’t happen again. Never Grovel Motors

Rather than admit a recent history of failed responsibilities, flawed vehicles, flopped marketing, fathomless hubris, faulty planning, fiduciary failures and now felicitous federalization — we are fed more of the same. 

Why certainly 80% of Americans who did not and do not buy its cars are going to be convinced to give ‘em not just a second chance, but any chance at all. Sure they are. 

Effie Awards to three auto agencies.

Effie Trophy LandingThe advertising business loves award competitions. All winners receive very good looking trophies that line the walls of the new business conference room or reception area. They’re the stuff reputations are made of.

A few however are really standouts. Paragons of recognition of marketing communications smarts that’s combined with creative excellence, intellect and passion: the Effie Awards. Its purpose to recognize, educate and encourage effectiveness.

Thousands enter every year, but only a few are chosen in carefully defined and judged categories, each entrant must supply the marketing brief of the campaign. The winners in the 2009 Effie Awards for the automobile category are:

Butler, Shine, Stern and Partners –

GSD&M Idea City –

TBWA Chait Day –  

I don’t see any GM commercials in this list…

Ad agencies may get stiffed

There’s a very long list of GM creditors who may never receive payment after the Chapter 11 hearings are concluded, among them the company’s advertising agency partners. The word “partner” is often used to describe the client and agency relationship. 

Media Daily Newsthis week reported Starcom MediaVest, the unit of Publicis Groupe, the company that handles all media duties for GM is owed $121.5 million which makes them the 6th largest unsecured creditor. 

Interpublic Group – think Campbell-Ewald, McCann and Jack Morton – are owed in the area of $21 million. The bankruptcy judge at GM’s request, can however, declare the agencies “critical vendors” so they could get paid. That could represent wishful thinking on the part of agency holding companies. If GM decides this is a good time to get new agencies, then the old ones will get a small portion of the old GM as it is dissolved, if they get anything at all.

Automotive ephemera – this paper has value

1928 DeSoto TrademarkThe use of elegant stock certificates faded long ago into the electronic void, but perhaps more interesting to auto-lovers are the government certificates registering the thousands of trademarks, trade names and copyrights of automobile manufacturers since the dawn of the industry.

Two such examples are the registration forms for Pontiac and Desoto trademarks as approved by the U.S. Patent Office.

Bob Snyder, vice president of a Yonkers, New York company, Cohasco, Inc., provided the above to examples of materials in their vast collection-some 30+ pages in length — that are available for historians and collectors, fans of automotive ephemera.

1926 Pontiac TrademarkThe prices vary from a few bucks to several hundred. For information the company’s website is  and Snyder can be ed at 914.476.8500

General Motors internet data does not bode well for new GM

A report just filed by Bill Tancer general manger of Hitwise, an Internet research specialist in on-line competitive research, just filed a copyrighted analysis of GM’s brand search history with predictions and implications when the company emerges from Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.

Tancer is concerned and preoccupied not with the appropriateness of government intervention in GM, but with a more basic question: assuming General Motors successfully restructures itself:

Is there sufficient demand for GM vehicles to maintain a viable business? (GM is predicting it can hold its current 18%-19% share in the U.S. after decades of losing roughly 1% annually.)

Using the company’s massive current and archival data base which consists of daily data on how 10 million U.S. Internet users interact with more than 1 million websites, across 165+ industries, Hitwise (using the loss of marketshare from 45% in 1989 to 22% in 2008) developed the chart below which shows “a precipitous decline in searches for top GM brands.”

Then Tancer ranked the top 10 automotive brands searched in the Hitwise Automotive-Manufacturers category over the four week period ending May 30, 2009:

1. Toyota 2. Honda 3. Ford 4. Nissan 5. Hyundai 6. Dodge 7. Kia 8. Suzuki 9. Volkswagen 10. Jeep

The first GM brand, “Chevrolet” shows-up in the #12 spot during this period. The study predicted brand challenges going forward, based on the variations in search queries containing “GM” over the last four weeks.

Deep data diving revealed even more potentially disturbing implications for GM by looking at searches in the weeks’ leading up to its bankruptcy filing. The top 100 searches containing “GM,” revealed:

  • 65% focused on financial information (e.g. stock price, bankruptcy filing, bondholder interest)
  • 25% sought information on closing dealerships.

Tancer noticed missing from the top 100 was any mention of GM models or brands and upon further review, of the list of GM search variations in their entirety, one of General Motors’ most significant challenges going forward will be to create demand in new and existing car models while overcoming fear that dwindling dealerships will diminish support. 

Early TV Memories StampsReturn with me to the golden age of television – many sponsored by the Big Three

Simple images of postage stamps, but if you are of a certain age, you will remember the shows, stars and probably the sponsor too, especially the prime time shows.

It is a passing parade, isn’t it?

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One Response to “Marty’s Marketing Minutia”

  1. pdbw says:

    Regards GM: Thanks for the b*tchfest.

    First off, the ad seems to admit GM’s costs are out of control and they’ve had too many brands for too long–eg, admitting their problems. Second, you reference “GM-speak with lack of action”. Would you like GM to specifically talk about the brands they’re dropping and the plants they are closing? Would you like the list of execs who have either retired or been walked out the door in the past year? If there were more time, I suppose they could talk more about the upcoming hybrids and 32mpg SUVs (that beat the Escape Hybrid).

    The only thing that ticks me off more than an arrogant article like this is when someone spends the whole time griping without offering any suggestions. So what would you do?