GM Cuts Advertising Spend. Again.
“Their overriding challenge is: How do you manage eight different brands?” Well exactly. Dan Gorrell, founder of consultant AutoStratagem, understands that there’s only so much GM can do to promote any one brand or model when there are eight (minus HUMMER seven) hungry mouths (with over 40 models) to feed. No news there. The General’s inability to to trim its American ambitions has long passed the point where they can do much of anything about it (i.e. close or sell brands)– at least without without declaring C11. So the wind-down of what was once the world’s largest automaker continues on all fronts. Advertising Age reports the damage: “General Motors Corp. plans to cut its digital-media budget after dramatically increasing it in the past few years, the automaker’s North American marketing chief told Advertising Age.” Cutting as in no replacement. The Academy Awards are gone. GM Style at the LA and Detroit auto shows is gone. The Super Bowl is gone. So how much of GM’s $2b+ ad spend is left? GM’s Marketing Maven is characteristically cagey. “Mr. LaNeve said last week that GM has already implemented more than half the ad spending cuts it planned for the remainder of 2008. When asked where the reductions were, he said, “It’s 100 things. It’s a consolidation of promotions and getting out of some. It’s production, media, agencies, outsourcing contracts, structural costs and people.”
All that GM (and the other manufacturers) need is a small number of good commercials. Most are irritating to the point where, if I buy the car, it's in spite of the commercial, not because of it. At our house, car commercials prompt a mad dash for the remote to mute the G.. d... screeching. Local dealers' commercials are even more obnoxious. I will pay attention to something that is tasteful, low-key, and actually says something about the car. Porsche had a couple of good ones on the Speed Channel several years ago. One featured a 911 C4 hustling down a winding road in a heavy rain. The message was control and safety in bad weather. The other showed an old guy, who had just awakened from a 20 year "nap", going for a drive in his 550 and meeting a young guy in a Boxster. Each was impressed with the other's car. Here, the intent was to connect the new model to the old.
Two commercial types that are a waste of money: SUV/CUV going offroad. Who does that, really? The sports sedan hustling through curves. I never feel a connection since I would spend most of my time in traffic anyway. Also, at least here in Michigan anyway, nobody is hustling their car since gas hit $4 a gallon. I can see a Vette or Porsche in the curves scenario since these are often treated as toy cars. But an Altima or Kia? Come on now. They are more likely to be automatics, stuck in traffic, with a fresh cup of coffee in the center stack.
Car commercials are one big reason I have just about quit commercial radio to and from work. I'm tired of being yelled at by the announcer. If I listen to the stereo at all it will be a recorded disc or podcast or NPR. Can't stand the NASCAR marketting and lack of right turns so they don't get me there. Lastly we don't watch network TV much (or only on DVR) so they don't get much of our attention there either. The comments about products on rollback trucks (break downs) and the success/failure of vehicles owned by people close to me go much, much further with me.
If it's the digital-media budget they're cutting, the useless TV/radio ads will continue, for now. We'll see fewer banners, inline ads, no more "Burn Notice" win-a-Saab tie-ins, etc. Doesn't GM know that advertising doesn't sell anything? It only alerts people to the fact that something exists. As for the (many) people who have Tivo or similar, GM is advertising for naught.