By on May 14, 2010

Look at this car, it’s horrible. How did this get through so many people?

We’ve all thought something along these lines when we first sat in a Chevy Cobalt, but few GM employees would ever say it out loud to a reporter. At least they wouldn’t until a much-improved replacement was waiting in the wings. But because the Cruze launches this year, GM execs like VP of global vehicle engineering Karl Stracke can bash on the old Cobalt to his heart’s content, knowing the Detroit News will dutifully report it as a sign that GM “gets it.”

GM’s North American honcho Mark Reuss even goes as far as to tell the DetN

We have never really built good small cars. But we are now.

And though it’s heartening to hear that GM’s top brass are regularly driving and critiquing their company’s (hopefully non-prepped) vehicles, this ritual penitence is as old a trick for GM as the “happy days are here again” television ad format. Until those Cruzes hit the streets, sell well, and don’t have the problems their Korean cousins did, GM still hasn’t “really built good small cars,” as Mr Reuss so eloquently puts it.

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33 Comments on “Quote Of The Day: We Get It Starting Now Edition...”


  • avatar
    bolhuijo

    I swear the short clip of the couple in the convertible from 1:03 is from a safety movie where they get hit by a train because they weren’t paying attention… Anyone else remember?

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    That’s a pretty good commercial. Too bad about the typos. This must be an intercompany or dealership thingy, not for public airing. Stirring the troops as it were. Too bad they didn’t focus on the process instead of the product.
    Design crap, and low and behold, you get crap. Looking over the history of GM it’s obvious the only way anything got done properly around there was behind the boss’ back, championed by a few passionate individuals. Everything else was/is designed by committee, approved by the oh so democratic “test customer” and produced mediocrity.
    Sigh.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    How old is that ad? They need to edit out the Saab which appears.

    Is the audience supposed to be internal GM employees? It’s very inspiring, but short on content, like most automotive ads.

    And if Hyundai innovates a little bit faster, oh well….

    • 0 avatar
      chrisgreencar

      The YouTube video was posted in 2006, so it’s at least that old.
      This seems way too long to be a regular TV commercial, so I guess it must have been an internal communication of some kind(?) Love the song, although the message may not be what they really needed here: “After the boys of summer have gone” … “I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac” … “I feel it in the air, the summer’s out of reach…” Hmm GM, something’s out of reach, all right….

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      It’s gotta be older than that. The Saab they showed was a circa-’98 9-3, and the old guy with the binoculars is reflecting the 2001 Oldsmobile lineup.

  • avatar
    boyphenom666

    Three comments:

    1. Why are these clowns at GM so in love with pop music soundtracks? It really detracts from both the message and the memorability of the commercial or promo video, or whatever this 4 minute monstrosity is supposed to be.

    2. I tried looking at the commercial from the standpoint of a casual observer. It was boring (I cut it off after about 2 minutes) and it doesn’t really hit home the message of Chevrolet. Who, other than auto junkies, would ever associate that rocket concept car with Chevy?

    3. They really need to read about Stephen Arnold and “sonic branding”. Having your own sonic logo (jingle or music track) really does help hammer the brand home. Everybody remembers the NBC Chimes or the T-Mobile tones, who remembers crappy Top-40 music from 25 years ago and who’s going to associate it with a car?

    For those who didn’t see my rant in another thread, here is an example of an effective commercial, in my way of thinking:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRfarOd7jxw

    This has everything you need in a commercial. It’s memorable, it’s entertaining, it’s got a catchy jingle (sonic branding) and it hammers home product features.

    • 0 avatar
      chrisgreencar

      That is a great commercial, although the broadway-musical-style music wouldn’t play well today. I love it, though! Especially since my parents bought a new 1978 Caprice! Another great slogan from the period was “Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet!” I still remember the tune….

    • 0 avatar
      boyphenom666

      Chris, I watched the commercial closely, it’s almost diagrams like a song. Look how many times they hammer home product features! I think Lutz was onto something …

      ============

      “Lyrics”
      Announcer: More headroom
      Actor: More headroom

      Chorus: That’s more like it, more like it.

      “Lyrics”
      Announcer: More legroom; more trunkroom
      Actors: More headroom; more legroom; more trunkroom

      Chorus: That’s more like it, more like it.

      “Lyrics”
      Announcer: More mileage; more maneuverable
      Actors: More headroom; more legroom; more trunkroom; More mileage; more maneuverable

      Chorus: That’s more like it, more like it.

      ============

      Here’s the Holden version of Baseball, Apple Pies …

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4Ic3RqPIJo

      Click on the 1981 version listed in the side pane. (girl in bathing suit bottom).

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @boyphenom666:

      Good choice for a good ad, which unlike today’s ads, actually tells you why the car is better.

      The best part: The car never even moves.

  • avatar
    Runfromcheney

    Yeah, this looks like an internal GM memo.

    I don’t understand the bashing of the Cobalt as it is actually a half-decent car. I mean, it is no Dodge Neon, but it isn’t as bad as the last model of Cavalier, either. I would still avoid one because of all the reliability problems, however.

    I feel bad for them because I KNOW the Cruze is going to disappoint. It may be a nice enough car, but the 2012 Focus and Civic are going to blow it away. I see it being popular for one model year, then sales are going to drop off a cliff as the redesigned competitors come out.

  • avatar
    Zarba

    it down to 1:00 (easy when you take out the dead brands/models), ands it would be a very effective ad…

    IF GM CAN BACK IT UP.

    When you look at some of the truly classic designs that GM has put on the road over the past 50 years, it’s pretty amazing. If only they hadn’t stopped in 1971.

  • avatar

    if I remember correctly this was shown at dealer meetings last summer by LaNaive.

  • avatar
    Doc

    For all the talk of not looking to the past (which I agree with) they show old cars for at least 60% of the video and then proceed to show 2 or 3 shots of the Chevy SSR. If the SSR is not looking to the past, I am not sure what is. Maybe the new Camaro.

  • avatar
    50merc

    Thanks for the links to the thirty-plus year old commercials. But watching them makes me sick. Oh, the commercials are great. I’m sickened by thinking about the great legacy GM stomped on and threw away.

  • avatar
    Juniper

    I like the ad.

  • avatar
    Demetri

    The funny thing is that when the Cobalt first came out, Lutz was talking smack on the Cavalier, and saying that they’re finally making great small cars. Actually, come to think of it, GM has been doing this for a long time. All I can say is that GM must have a really loyal fanbase to be able to admit to their customers that they sold them a piece of crap and have them still coming back for more.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    great song

    the ad looks and the concept is great but it looks like the media company is in love with the 1950-60s GM and there’s scan regard to the dark days of the 70s. 80s. 90s etc.

    a vauxhall vx220???

    prior to the great GM fallout of 2008 so it will seem like an aeon ago

  • avatar

    In fives years GM will be saying the Cruze was not that good afterall, but its replacement will be all the rage. It is the same old crap from BM.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    yes but generally the better companies acknowledge their past success as being what they are… does Porsche shit on the 1973 911RS?

    or Nissan on the 1989 R32 GTR? Of let’s step down a notch… the VW Golf? The Toyota Corolla? Or the Ford Escort? Ford Taurus?

    GM are all about the ‘now’ and not the future of the past.

    You sell out your past to pimp a Korean designed econobox. For shame. But then Whitacre’s boys have no shame.

  • avatar
    newfdawg

    Living in the past-if this is some kind of internal promotion to build morale I’d have to give it a failing grade. Going back to the Vega, GM has said each new small car they were releasing would drive the imports away and each one has been a failure…this behavior has been going on for so long no one pays any attention to GM’s small cars anymore.

  • avatar

    In the words of the immortal Mojo Nixon: Don Henley Must Die.

    The video is lame on so many levels that I scarcely know where to begin. Let’s remind people of how cool our cars used to be, and then tell them not to think about the past. Let’s wallow in nostalgia and not wallow in nostalgia at the same time! Cognitive dissonance, anyone?

    The whole thing is centered around rose-tinted, delusional boomer nostalgia, despite the fact that any future GM has is dependent on customers who don’t know or care what many of the images used represent.

    A final note of irony from a 2010 perspective, as others have pointed out: most the visions of the future highlighted in the video are now dead products, dead brands and stale ideas… only four short years later.

    Like my grandpappy used to tell me, if you gotta keep sayin’ it, it just ain’t so.

    If GM can ever get out of its own way and build relevant cars again, maybe we’ll talk about it 50 years from now.

  • avatar
    Odomeater

    “I feel bad for them because I KNOW the Cruze is going to disappoint”

    Thank you Amazing Kreskin

    • 0 avatar

      No magic necessary, of course… just elementary reading skills to comprehend the less-than-stellar reviews the Cruze is racking up, and an appreciation for GM’s woeful small-car history.

      The Cruze may not be an abject failure — let’s face it, the worst Daewoo likely beats the best Cobalt — but it won’t be the homerun Gov’t Motors so desperately needs, either.

  • avatar
    obbop

    I marvel at how the bikini’s material follows the curvatures of its wearer so closely, so snugly, representing all that is just so right with the USA.

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    The message is mixed because on one hand they are playing up iconic American images but then tell us they are a global company.

    If global is what a modern car company should be, then why can’t a Korean, Indian or Chinese car maker serve my needs as well or better than GM?

    Nice to see progressive Don Henley reaping some royalties for the rights for his song being used to sell petro drinking, disposable consumer appliances.

  • avatar

    The European press has not been kind to the Cruze.

    Cobalt2

  • avatar
    brettc

    Nice. First, it looks like the video is a 5th generation VHS copy, yet it’s supposedly from last summer. Second, they specifically say to only look through the windshield and not the rear view mirror. Yet the ad is full of old and generally mediocre vehicles (Avalanche anyone?).

    It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the Cruze. I’m going to bet that it’ll continue their tradition of bad to mediocre small cars, it’ll just be a bad/mediocre small car to sour the current generation on GM. Sure would be nice if Goverment Motors would FOAD for good. But of course that can’t happen because it makes politicians look bad.

  • avatar
    Acc azda atch

    Hmmm

    Man..
    Love the song… could feel it bring me in.. sooth my deepest darkest depressing feelings…

    Then along comes a 50′ LVL.. and it smacks me in the face… with a big fat HOT IRON.. called G.M

    Its going to be.. a LONG C O L D D A Y IN my kind of HELL.. before I buy a [BLEEEEEP] car from you bastards.


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