GM's Hummer Conundrum

Posted by: David Kiley on October 29, 2007

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A new campaign for Hummer could be internally themed, “lipstick on a pig.”

Three new-model TV spots, plus print and online work from independent agency Modernista, Boston, looks to reposition the vehicle as a positive thing for humanity. The campaign is actually themed “Hummer Heroes.”

The new effort spotlights how rescue workers and owners rely on the Hummers to help people. The campaign includes a Microsite, Hummerhelps.com that encourages owners to send in stories and photos that illustrate how they assisted the needy with their SUVs.

I’m thinking, though, that what you won’t see on this site are the preposterous stretch Hummer limos or people who use their Hummers to go to the grocery store or drop their kids off at school. Too, I doubt you’ll see someone filling up the tank and the gas-pump dial registering $100.00.

I have no doubt that some Hummers are used to help people. No doubt the website will become filled with people trying to justify their purchases of Hummer H2s and H3s with touching scenes of taking water to fire victims in the California fires or the Hurricane Katrina.

I’m not saying the marketing executives at GM or Modernista have made a bad call here, or that the ads aren’t well done. They are working with the product they have been dealt. And from GM’s standpoint, they have to keep selling them.

But there is a larger point here. While it started out as a military vehicle brand, GM bought Hummer as a vanity play. Pure and simple. When SUVs were all the rage in the late 1990s, GM wanted a brand to go up against Jeep, and to pair with Cadillac dealerships.

The H2 is so preposterous it doesn’t have to disclose its fuel economy on the window sticker or to the government. It is so heavy, it is rated as a commercial truck. In reality, it gets around 11 or 12 miles per gallon.

And this from today’s Wall Street Journal: “At the Tokyo Motor Show going on now, GM is showcasing a new Japan-only version of the H3 with the steering wheel on the right since Japanese drive on the left side of the road. The Hummer appeals to drivers who are “looking for something big and mean that looks like you’ve got real wheels,” says Shiro Horie, editor in chief of American Edge magazine, a new Japanese publication dedicated to American cars.”

GM is out to prove itself in the next few years to doubting consumers as being a part of the solution to global warming and energy independence by introducing plug-in vehicles and electric vehicles. As long as it s pushing Hummer H2s to the consumers who don’t care about these issues, though, it is going to have a hard time making that story stick.

Reader Comments

J van

December 20, 2007 5:23 PM

IF YOU DON'T LIVE IN SNOW COUNTRY YOU SHOULD NOT COMMENT ON THE H2. MANY DAYS HERE IT IS THE ONLY WAY TO GET AROUND. MY WIFE WAS ON KEMO FOR 48 WEEKS AND IT WAS THE ONLY WAY TO GET TO THE HOSPITAL SOME DAYS.

skekoa

February 29, 2008 4:37 AM

An H2 with a lot more horsepower and double the gas mileage? No, it's not fiction but reality. The better question is why is it that Detroit can't seem to do what ingenious Kansas City mechanic, Johnathan Goodwin, has been doing to Hummers for several years now, with his bio-diesel engine conversions using mostly GM parts?

Philip Barrett

April 7, 2008 5:08 PM

Snow country eh? Funnily enough I've never seen a Hummer in Switzerland, Germany or Sweden. Maybe it's the wrong kind of snow? Seems like I remember seeing a lot of Subarus in US "snow country" too.

Luke Munnell

June 12, 2008 1:23 AM

It seems the days of paramilitary-esque soccer moms bouncing off pedestrians and small cars during their daily commute, burning through a gallon of gas every nine miles, and single-handedly waging war with the global climate may be coming to an end. Sigh...

THE single most useless vehicle of the decade, I can't say I'm sad to see the Hummer go either.

Matthew

June 21, 2008 2:22 PM

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Wolfie

August 20, 2008 3:34 AM

Hehe, in Finland, you pay about 100 dollars to fill the tank of a regular city car (45 litres of gasoline). I don't even want to imagine how much it would cost to fill the tank of a Hummer...

And, yes, we have snow and ice, but we still don't need Hummers here to move around...

sarwarxp

March 25, 2009 6:20 AM

Hi,in Kurdistan , I like hummer Cars

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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