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GM Can At Least Start With Its Advertising


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April 04, 2005

GM Can At Least Start With Its Advertising

David Kiley

General Motors is going to make some changes in its advertising. Not that advertising is the biggest source of blame for the automaker's woes. But it's a category of problems that can be fixed the fastest.

Pontiac: This is a brand that has some potential to be a "blue-collar" success brand like DaimlerChrysler's Dodge brand is becoming. The product is starting to show promise. The G6 is a pretty interesting car, and the Solstice roadster looks like a screamer. The GTO doesn't look like much, but it drives like the GTO to which it pays homage. The ads have long been dreadful, lurching from one idiotic, vague positioning to another for years. Chemistri, a Publicis Groupe agency, handles it. The agency, which also handles Cadillac advertising, should lose it immediately and probably will.

Buick: I stopped leaving the porchlight on for a coherent ad campaign for Buick during the Clinton Administration. Interpublic Group's McCann-Erickson has done Buick work for decades. Some Tiger Woods-focused ads have been okay, but the rest has been consistently awful. If GM has a genuine thought of saving this brand, get it out of McCann and into an agency that has no history with the brand. The last effort to save this brand demands new blood. Get some.

Advertising Age reports that a survey of GM's own ad executives rated Buick and Pontiac ads a "3" out of a possible "10."

Saturn: I saw a Saturn TV ad last night. Bleeech! This brand was once the best defined in the auto sector. Today, it has one of the best ad agencies in the business working on it, Goodby Silverstein & Partners. But it doesn't show. I vote the problem here must be at the client. Why can this agency do great work for other brands and not Saturn?

Saab: I have seen the new work, some of which the public hasn't, and it is terrible. Here is a niche brand with some quirks. The ads I saw might as well have been for Buick. The executive who guided the work just left to run liquor marketing at Diageo. Look for Smirnoff ads to take a nose-dive now. Interpublic's Lowe & Partners, which also handles very good GMC ads, does the Saab work. [disclaimer: I once worked for Lowe & Partners as a vice president]. I think the agency can do better work for a smarter client.

Cadillac and Hummer ads are fine. Chevrolet ads, "An American Revolution" are on the right track, but need better executions from IPG's Campbell-Ewald.

GM needs to seed its brands with more exciting product. But that takes years to get right. In the meantime, new ad positionings and agency assignments to help things along can be done within a few months. Get cracking.

08:47 AM

brands in trouble

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I agree with all of the above... except the new pontiac ads moved me a little... Especially the one with the Kasabian song in it and showing the Solstice... finally something a little edgy.

Is the one of same ads / agency you mention above? If so, it's a sudden shift compared to their other ads. I've always hated pontiac ads. Nothing creative, horribly mixed message.

Posted by: felone at April 27, 2005 06:46 PM

Pontiac hasn't created an effective ad since they launched the Sunfire.

From Kiley: The Sunfire was a maketing or critical success?

Posted by: padrone at May 4, 2005 07:43 PM

Gm does, have to get with the times on advertising like Dodge did with those two idiots, crazy about hemis.GM should be advertising about , getting the peoples trust back that they lost to toyota,honda and nissan long ago . I can't believe Gm did not advertise during 911 how they donated all that money and all those vehs. for that crisis and toyota,honda and nissan refused to help at all . that would have been perfect.

Posted by: Darrin lipp at January 9, 2006 06:38 PM

GM takes itself much too seriously. The company should take a good look at itself, and stop being just too uppity about its products. We drive a Cadillac CTS, and love it. But we didn't buy it because of the advertising. Also, I think soje of the dealerships have been with GM too long--lets get some Apple Computer fun into GM ads.

Posted by: Jack Hackler at July 2, 2006 12:59 PM

GM's advertising sucks.It also irritates because of the repetition.If GM would spend less money on ads that suck and more money on pricing thier automobiles right the first time out instead of waiting until they have to reduce price to where it should have been to start with.

Posted by: Al Davis at February 20, 2007 07:02 AM


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