GM May Need To Think About Killing Its Brand

Posted by: David Kiley on April 1, 2009

GM%2520Logo.jpg

General Motors’ sales and marketing chief Mark LaNeve said today that when the company asks consumers about the GM brand these days, the results come back pretty bad. But when they ask people about Chevy, Cadillac, Buick, GMC…the results come back fine.

GM has been back and forth for 20 years about what to do with the GM brand. Perhaps they are close to deciding. Ditch it.

I was listening to National Public Radio recently and heard a sponsorship ad from “GM…Maker of the Chevy Volt and hybrids…blah blah blah.” My thought was: money wasted.

As soon as you hear this relevant message to a relevant audience, and they hear “GM,” I think the haze comes over most listeners’ eyes, ears and brains, and the message is lost.

Why not focus all that ad spend and messaging on…Chevrolet. It is GM’s most important brand. That NPR sponsorship should be for Chevy.

The talk now is that GM may go into a quickie bankruptcy in June, and be divided into two companies—a good GM made up of Chevy, Cadillac, Buick and GMC; and a bad GM made up of Hummer, Saab, Saturn and Pontiac that would be isolated and sold off or wound down.

Assuming the goood GM, in this scenario, is a public company, might it not be a good idea to ditch the GM brand name abd call the new entity Chevrolet Motors? or Chevrolet-Cadillac Motors. And get a new stock ticker symbol while you are at it of maybe CHEVY or CADDY?

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Reader Comments

Maha Atal

April 1, 2009 11:14 PM

One reason they aren't taking this very timely advice, yet, is that they got burned on their car-brand advertising about 5 years ago--the Chevy Tahoe viral video fiasco.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oNedC3j0e4

The Chevy brand was so destroyed by the experience that they moved to rebrand those cars as GM. Now the situation is reversed so David is right, especially if the most profitable brands get sold off as separate entities, but it's important to keep the perspective.

Kevin Clancy

April 7, 2009 7:39 PM

This is certainly an interesting question to pose--to change or not to change the name?

I'm sure there are probably some very compelling financial and operational reasons to consider spinning off a "bad GM" and perhaps reorganizing around Chevy and/or Caddy.

I guess I just wonder if what the Chevy and Caddy brands stand for isn't just as hazy in the minds of consumers as "GM." Caddy has switched targets and positionings and ad campaigns multiple times over the past few years. Chevy is "the American Revolution," but what does that mean exactly?

No, "GM" doesn't do too much for anyone these days, but that doesn't mean it couldn't in the future and should necessarily be cast aside. Same could be said for Chevy and Caddy. Though none of the existing brand names is exactly a clean slate, but if they are all generally hazy in the minds of consumers, they might all have equal potential to become strong and powerful.

I'd like to add another thought to this discussion, too, that a brand name is only as powerful as the marketing strategy on which it’s based. I'd say it's the lack of a powerful marketing strategy--not the brand name itself--that has undermined the performance of GM and its individual brands for years.

I hope GM doesn't get so focused on what to call itself that it forgets the real task at hand is to figure out a solid marketing strategy--to move cars.

You'll find a post with some more thoughts on your discussion at http://marketingfray.blogspot.com/2009/04/let-gm-go.html.

ABDULLAH BOUSHEHRI

April 15, 2009 1:52 PM

GM !!! :(

YOU'R THE BEST !!

stand

April 21, 2009 2:39 PM

The initiative taken for the concern is very serious and needs an attention of everyone. This is the concern which exists in the society and needs to be eliminated from the society as soon as possible.

stand

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Larry

June 29, 2009 10:48 PM

I enjoyed the ads, all of them. You seem far to bitter about Kettle One's new direction. I believe the ads set a great tone for what should be considered a gentlemen, good times, and responsibility. From the music to the lighting the message conveyed is happiness with yourself, the company you keep and the alcohol you drink. You said they should have continued with the style of the print ads and transferred it to TV. Why copy another companies print ads to a TV spot, if that where the case stick with the first company. I looked up the print ads because they didn't have a lasting impression.

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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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