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GM’s Puzzling New "Reinvention" TV Ad


Finding itself in deeply strange terrain—a national icon in bankruptcy, owned in large measure by you and me and a few hundred million other American citizens—General Motors has started running a minute-long TV ad emphasizing the dusting-itself-off-and-picking-itself-up aspects of its situation.

GM is, obviously, also reaching out to consumers in other ways. But how is the ad, the one to be released in the wake of GM’s bankruptcy filing? Well, I can’t really tell if it’s the situation or the ad that’s deeply strange. I’ve been watching TV for decades and I’m fairly certain this is the first time I’ve heard to term “cost structure” in an ad. (UPDATE: Slate’s Seth Stevenson had a much less measured response to this ad.)

But judge for yourself:

The voiceover in full:

Let’s be completely honest.

No company wants to go through this.

But we are not witnessing the end of the American car.

We are witnessing the rebirth of the American car.

General Motors needs to start over in order to get stronger.

There was a time when 8 different brands made sense.

Not anymore.

There was a time when our cost structure could compete worldwide.

Not anymore.

Reinvention is the only way we can fix this. And fix it we will.

[DRUMS KICK IN]

So here’s what the new GM is going to be.

Fewer stronger brands. Fewer stronger models.

Greater efficiencies. Better fuel economy and new technologies.

Leaner. Greener. Faster. Smarter.

This is not about going out of business.

This is about getting down to business.

Because the only chapter we are focused on is chapter one.

I guess making an ad in this situation involves playing the hand you’re dealt and all. But all this raises at least as many questions as it answers. To name but one: perhaps GM might have made some of the above changes without taking billions from the US government and going Chapter 11?

But mayhaps I’m being churlish. What are your thoughts?


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