GM: The Message for Now
Shortly after GM’s bankruptcy filing, the company unveiled a new ad campaign on television and the Internet entitled, “Reinvention,” which seeks to explain what the “new” GM will be. A goodly amount of time is spent recounting the company’s past sins (e.g., too many brands, an unsustainable cost structure, etc.). While “confession is good for the soul,” these “sins” have been dissected by the media ad nauseum and, I hazard a guess, virtually any one could recite them by heart. The balance of the ad describes the new GM in rather general terms (e.g., cars with greater fuel efficiency and technology and so on), which, in essence, is what virtually every car company has been talking about.
What does the situation call for? Certainly not ads featuring “feel good” images of the moon landing and sports scenes – these serve as diversions. The situation calls for “plain speak.” GM would have been better served if its ads featured CEO Fritz Henderson discussing his plans for fixing the company, using him much the same way as Chrysler used its iconic CEO Lee Iacocca at a time when that company was staving off bankruptcy through government guarantees of its loans nearly 30 years ago. Those ads featured Iacocca intoning the line: "If you can find a better car, buy it."
Thanks to the media’s reporting of GM’s calamities over the past several months, we don’t really need history lessons. Instead, the American public and, certainly the car-buying public (not to mention the taxpayers whose money is invested in GM), need to know the specifics of its turnaround plan, milestones by which to gauge its progress and, of course, that the company will stand behind its brands by honoring warranties.
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