By on August 18, 2008

Anyone who thinks GM isn't in a cash crunch better come up with some serious spin stat. The American automaker has officially confirmed that it's withdrawing from the Oscars. No, I don't mean it's removing itself from contention for "The Most Shameless Product Placement in any Movie Since Cinema Was Invented" Oscar. We're talking about ad sponsorship. As in no more. Which also means the Autoblog gallery-filling pre-Oscar stars and our cars "Style" event is toast. The Wall Street Journal makes the contrast with years past. "Not only has GM — the maker of brands such as Cadillac, Chevrolet and Saturn — aired a slew of commercials during the popular awards show, it also has paid extra to be the exclusive auto advertiser during some of the Oscar broadcasts. GM's marketing around the program has included on-the-ground promotions, such as giving the show dozens of GM vehicles to shuttle celebrities to the event and to Oscar-related parties." What, no Escalade Hybrid limos? Nope. And no Emmy sponsorship. And the next Olympics will not have anything shiny and blue paying the bills. It would be nice to think that all this money saved will be going towards new product development. But it's not. It's what the non-technical analysts call throwing shit overboard to stop the ship from sinking. 

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20 Comments on “GM Pulls Out of Oscar. So To Speak....”

  • avatar
    Dr. D

    I recall growing up in Texas that the only ‘advertising’ that was effective was ‘word of mouth’. Few folks I knew of went out just shopping for a car relying on media style advertising.
    With assets all sold off. GM is all dressed up with no place to go and no way to get there if she could. Now she must suck and shrink, chop and chip and moan and wail her way to her self made destiny.
    GM: perfect case history of how NOT to operate an industrial manufacturing company.

  • avatar

    GM’s advertising on the Oscars was a waste anyway. Does anyone here really think it generated any sales? Anyone? Bueller?

    At least their Olympic advertising is hitting mainstream buyers. My only beef is that they’re trying to push cars that don’t exist (Volt, Fuel Cells), or cars no one buys (G6, Vibe, G5), or wasting their money on generic GM brand advertising.

    They should have picked 5 vehicles and hammered them home. Lessee, Malibu, G8, CTS, Traverse, and Cobalt.

    I know, the Cobalt’s a dog, but when gas is $4/gallon, you push what you got…

    As it is, they once again spread themselves so thin as to make all the money invested a huge waste. Saturn? Saab? Buick? GMC? Push Chevy and Cadillac, and let the others go.

    Speaking of the Chevy Traverse, once more GM has taken a basically good platform and spread it among 4 divisions, each cannibalizing sales from the other and exponentially increasing their marketing costs and diluting the marketing’s impact. The Buick Enclave should have been a Cadillac, if anything, and the Chevy Traverse should have been the only other version. They’ve now guaranteed themselves four failing vehicles and even more brand confusion.

  • avatar

    Detroit’s automakers tend to think that products don’t sell themselves but massive and blatant advertising does. It is the concept of a bad lawyering by thinking that if they say the same thing so many times it convinces every on the jury even if they have no proof of what they are saying (it’s an easy objection of repetition). Then they keep on changing their message which further complicates things – then they tend to focus on rebates, 0% financing, etc. to move the metal which then even to the listener of average intelligence tells them that they are the Kmart / Wal-Mart of car mfgrs and teaches them to only react to the fire sales.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    As far as I can tell, all they’re advertising is their pickups, especially on the Olympics. Seems strange.

  • avatar

    I knew something was amiss when they started advertising “Get into a more fuel efficient vehicle!” and went right into a Silverado pitch.

    I don’t know what you’re driving where ~15/20mpg is an improvement (or considered efficient). Apart from a small target market of needs-based truck guys, the whole thing comes across as a confused and desperate pander.

  • avatar

    Hmmm anyone else seeing the GM TV ads with the tag line “The truth”?

  • avatar

    Hmmm anyone else seeing the GM TV ads with the tag line “The truth”?

    They make ne curse every time I see them, and I have seen the Enclave one a lot, aparently it’s the most fuel efficient beached whale on the road. And I don’t remember if they ever actually say the mileage it gets just, “believe us at GM it’s better then everyone else’s.”

    Now that I am thinking of it the hybrid Malibu commercial that was playing all over the olymics doesn’t say what mileage it gets either.

  • avatar

    More marketing is pretty much Buickman’s recovery plan.

    * Implement both innovative and proven marketing techniques.
    * Raise market share 1 percentage point in each of five key areas
    * Remake our corporate image as a leader by acting rather than re-acting.
    * Change focus of advertising from distress to aspirational.

    Three out of four pillars are PR goals; the 2nd isn’t so much an idea as a goal. I guess when you’re in denial about the quality of the product, the only problem you can see is bad marketing.

  • avatar

    Unfortunately, I can see where Buickman is coming from.

    It’s really too late to fix GM’s problems with intrinsic quality improvement. That takes years to percolate through the market. I happened to see a couple GM’s with peeling paint over the weekend… they’re not new cars but they’re constant reinforcement of the notion that GM builds crap. GM should put corporate spotters out on the roads, armed with bags of cash and offer money, on the spot, for GMs with peeling paint. Then junk them. Get them off the road.

    That idea is freely given but GM marketing should contact me… I think I have a cheaper, although evil, alternative to purchasing that they may like. For this cheaper idea, they’d have to pay…

  • avatar

    “Denial about Quality.”


    Riddle me this Batman:

    Two vehicles roll of the assembly line back to back. Same drivetrain. Same axles. Same nuts and bolts. Same components from the same supplier. Same assembly line technicians. Same lunchroom. Same Union.
    You hear me? No difference in literally anything.

    Toyota Matrix and Pontiac Vibe.

    Yet the Customer Initial Quality Rating on the Toyota is higher.

    If THAT isn’t a perception issue then I’m not sure what the definition of “Perception,” really is.

    There are scads of smart people here. What is the solution?

  • avatar

    Well Monkey, that’s branding for ya.

    There is no quick fix to it. GM earned its brand reputation the hard way, by squandering it through 30 years of shabby product. Marketing isn’t going to solve it. Making stellar cars for 10 years would go a long way towards fixing it, but even then its an uphill battle.

    The most important part of any business is goodwill. GM doesn’t have much left, even the people buying their cars don’t think they are reliable! It’s going to take a long time to fix that, and it won’t be through advertising. Fact is, its probably too late to fix it. There is no marketing campaign or car model or any one thing that is going to send people flocking back to GM. Sometimes I get the impression that GM execs believe that people secretly want GM products, and are just waiting for some watershed moment to come flocking back. But the love is gone, and they aren’t coming back.

  • avatar

    You’d think that intelligent people would rate a product on it’s own merits. Not a lemming-like mentality.

    Maybe the same thing will happen with a possible Nissan/Chrysler venture.

  • avatar

    It looks to me that the Big 2.8 for the longest time felt that small cars = cheap cars, things you make in bulk to sell to rental car companies to meet CAFE when your retail customers really want big powerful cars. They have yet to realize that now people are willing to drop 25-30 thousand on a smaller car with all the bells and whistles.

  • avatar

    People aren’t purely rational. Their perception of brand quality has a real effect on how they perceive the car regardless of the actual merits of a particular vehicle.

    There’s an episode of Bullshit (Penn & Tellers show) where they have an actor playing a waiter at a high end restaurant selling $10 bottles of water to people by telling them its made from melted snow from the peak of Mount Everest etc. Really the water was from the garden hose out back.

    People love it, raved about how great it tasted, never a clue in the world that it was hose water.

    GM might bitch about it now, but that sort of perception bias is what kept them in business for as long as they did. Problem with cars is, that eventually the owner realizes that he got hose water, and tells all his friends. After that, people are going to rate the product lower than its true merits preemptively. The economics term is source bias, a.k.a. The Boy Who Cried Wolf syndrome. Given peoples limited time and interest in acquiring the information necessary to make an objective decision regarding the vehicles merits, taking the brands history into account, and thus discounting the product, is actually quite rational. Rational irrationality, if you will.

    And that is why it is paramount to maintain brand integrity; if you lose that, you are at a perpetual and severe disadvantage, because you have to fight your negative source bias and the competition’s positive source bias. So you have to be BETTER than the competition by a wide margin to even break even with customers.

  • avatar

    monkeyboy, One significant difference that would tilt an Initial Quality Survey is the fact that you go to a GM dealer to get the Vibe and you go to a Toyota dealer to get the Matrix.

    Both experiences are to be avoided but I know which I’d hate more.

  • avatar

    toxicroach unofficially wins the thread…

  • avatar

    Sorry if I talked to much zarba. Its one of those issues I get excited about.

  • avatar

    GM not pitching cars at Oscar-time, I think, is a terrible move. I don’t know about any of you, but my wife and her friends watch every minute of the Oscars as if their lives depended on it. Sticking a Caddy in front of them is important so that they know that the things exist.

    Without this product placement, I’m afraid that GM is going to lose out even more to the foreign brands. Where, exactly, do they expect sales to come from?

    1) Word of mouth isn’t kind to them as lots of people with current product have negative stories (and I live in Detroit, where there are more pro-GM people per square mile than anywhere else)

    2) Cobalt/Aveo buyers will not trade up to a Chevy the next time they are buying. Rather, they will flee from the Chevy experience.

    3) GM retirees, mad as hell from getting their healthcare cut-off are already declaring war.

    4) Current GM workers are the only remaining buyers in any serious quantity that I can see that are left. And they keep retiring/firing more and more of them every month. Not good for future sales numbers.

  • avatar

    If GM just advertised particular Chevy and Cadilac models would the franchisees with Pontiacs, Buicks, Saturns, and GMCs have a right to sue?

    Perhaps GM is spending (wasting) ad money on non-existing products and overall good will because it is the only way to avoid lawsuits.

    Are GM dealers as hostile to GM as they are to their customers:-)?

  • avatar


    No flaming intended. I was actually impressed with your reasoning and arguments.

    You nailed it.

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