By on December 3, 2008

One of our Best and Brightest forwarded this letter from GM North American Vice President Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing to the company’s 124,756 dealers. Mark’s missive attached GM’s increasingly discredited rescue plan and exhorted store owners to keep the faith. More interestingly, the third ‘graph reveals LaNeve as a knee jerk (get well soon Mark) apologist, as he once again trots-out the 6W (woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo or Curley) defense. “As you read through these plans, please keep in mind we are in unprecedented times and the economic downturn has impacted industries and people across the nation, causing a devastating rippling affect. GM and other domestic and foreign automakers have been hit hard as consumers are unable to get credit for the purchase of new cars as well as other goods and services.  This has resulted in a severe drop in auto sales and potential for revenue generation, which has made it necessary for GM to formulate even deeper cuts than originally anticipated prior to the credit crisis.” Of course, there’s more. Or less. More or less.

“In July, GM announced that internal liquidity plans were on track and that we would continue to look to the capital markets and other sources of liquidity as opportunities became available.”

LaNeve would like GM dealers to believe that this whole GM’s screwed thing began this summer. Unfortunately, he’s writing to dealers. You know, the guys at the sharp end. If anyone knows the timeline for GM’s decline, it’s them. To suggest that everything was OK right up until it wasn’t is beyond disingenious. It’s insulting to the very people upon which GM’s future– if it is to have one– depends. (Well, that and their customers, but you know what I mean.)

“However, as the widespread economic and credit crisis has deepened, GM must pursue every avenue to guarantee GM’s ongoing operations and to emerge from this downturn as a stronger and more competitive company.  Major restructuring efforts that have been underway by GM over the last few months will now be heightened across all areas of the business, including manufacturing, engineering, financing, supplier management, human resources, and vehicle sales, service and marketing.”

Like any good leader, LaNeve has just ratcheted-up the FUD surrounding GM’s future. It’s the worst possible kind of threat: vague. And, lest we forget, GM has already delayed payments to their store owners. What more do they want, blood? If so, what’s the bet their dealers’ is boiling.

“These details are outlined in GM’s plan presented to the U.S. Congress today.”

Define “details.”

“During these extremely difficult times for the auto industry, it’s never been more important for each of us to stay focused on the task at hand – selling, staying positive on our products and staying connected with our customers.  This is surely the best route to improving our competitive position in the marketplace.”

So NOW you tell us.

“We appreciate your partnership and all that you’re doing to keep the business heading in a positive direction.  As business initiatives and circumstances warrant, we will continue to communicate with you.”

You can almost hear the sound over the PA system in the belly of the ship, as screams ring out from the boiler room: “that is all.”

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4 Comments on “Between the Lines: GM Marketing Maven Mark LaNeve’s Letter to Dealers “It Wazzunt Us”...”

  • avatar

    Robert there were good news in this letter! He wrote to all 124,756 dealers, but there will be much less of them. Those who own Buick/Pontiac/GMC franchises just have to update neon sign dropping 7 letters. Those with Saab, Hummer and Saturn franchises will have to rely on other dealerships to make up the difference. However, lets be realistic, we are talking about very rich guys (GM upper management) screwing other very rich guys (dealers). It’s akin to hedge fund failures: can you really feel sorry for millionaires?

  • avatar

    “>>and other domestic and foreign automakers have been hit hard as consumers are unable to get credit for the purchase of new cars as well as other goods and services. This has resulted in a severe drop in auto sales..”

    Yes, it is the consumers fault. Not their fault for pricing the product higher than the market is willing to pay for.

  • avatar

    @ ronin

    Or failing to build cars that anyone is willing to buy without easy credit and massive discounts, for that matter.

  • avatar

    124,756 dealers? Somebody in gm grow a pair and tell the dealers like it is. “Sorry way to many of you guys out there. We cant force vehicles down peoples throats. Therefore you guys fight amongst yourselves for the few customers that exist”

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