How GM Has Changed

by Johnny Debacle

In TV Ads, Chrysler, GM Diverge on Image Repair:

General Motors — once so mighty, it made half of all new cars in the United States — has humbled itself before the American consumer. Its new television ad begins with a man’s voice intoning: “Let’s be completely honest. No company wants to go through this. . . . General Motors needs to start over to get stronger.” The ad, a montage of images seemingly meant to show everyday American life, is part of a multimedia campaign called “re: invention” that includes a corporate Web site, where consumers can track the company’s progress through Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

“Because the only chapter we’re interested in,” the GM ad concludes, “is Chapter One.”

And that’s the problem. The Chapter you need to be writing is the chapter titled “Cars People in America Want to Buy, Made At Prices at Which We Will Be Sustainably Free Cash Flow Positive”. That chapter still doesn’t seem to be in your book.

More simply, the OLD GM, y’know the one that filed for bankruptcy protection a few weeks ago and the one that since 1980 has hemorrhaged cash like it was Prince Alexei after a Rasputin beatdown, looked like this:

While the new GM looks like this:

Spot the problem yet, Private Motors?

The campaign is the result of consumer research beginning last December, when the company’s executives were pilloried for haughtily coming to Washington — on a private jet — to ask for aid. After that fiasco, GM asked consumers: What do we need to do to regain your trust?

“They just kept giving us the same feedback — that we need to be brutally honest,” said Jay Spenchian, GM’s executive director of North American marketing strategy. “We need to ‘man up,’ was one of the terms that came out of the focus groups.”

I repeat, you’re a company not a lover. GM, I know that this it is difficult to even conceive a reality where this would be the case, but ideally people want to buy your cars, not get into bed with them. You don’t need to man up, or regain trust to make us open our wallets. You need to cut costs and make things people want. They just don’t understand that their goal is to make money. Nothing else.

Recommendation: Short GM. But give them credit where credit is due. They will probably bang a couple insecure freshman chicks with their sensitive-guy “trust” shtick. These girls will be drunk, and later full of regret. They’ll move GM into the friend zone during their Psych 101 Lab section a few days later. But good for GM, another notch on their belt and maybe the best they can hope for.

Related Reseach:

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  1. June 12th, 2009 | 4:14 pm

    Ah, how I miss college…

  2. Frederick A. Henderson
    June 12th, 2009 | 5:29 pm

    Mr. Debacle-

    I would like to thank LoS for the Google AdWords traffic your site has sent to our new website (see our banner ad above). Going forward, would you consider receiving your click-through payment in the form of “New GM” secured debentures, as opposed to cold, hard american dollars?

    Frederick (call me “Fred” or “Rick” or “e” or “Fritz”[?]) Henderson