Editorial: GM Zombie Watch 9: GM Announces "Buy and Say Goodbye" Sale
General Motors is launching a fourth of July sale: “Buy and Say Goodbye.” From July 1 to July 6, the bankrupt automaker’s offering 0% financing for up to 72 months on “most” of its dead brand walking Pontiac models and “some other vehicles.” More specifically, “select 2009 and 2010 vehicles in dealer stock including Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra regular, extended and crew cab light-duty pickups; Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon XL SUVs; Chevrolet Impala; and the Pontiac models: Vibe, G3, G5, G6 and G8.” But wait! There’s more! “Many other vehicles will have reduced rate financing of 0 percent for up to 60 months for well-qualified buyers. A full list of current offers, conditions, and eligible vehicles, is available at: http://www.gm.com/shop/currentoffers/.” Not yet it isn’t. So that’s number six on our list of reasons why this sale is dumber than toast. Counting down . . .
5. Blowing Bubbles — Isn’t this exactly the kind of fiscal irresponsibility that led to GMAC’s 11th hour, backroom bailout, not to mention the previous, company-killing new car bubble? In its defense, GM says the “Buy and Say Goodbye” sale’s six year loans are reserved for “well qualified buyers.” Yeah, right. What are the odds that beleaguered/doomed GM dealers are going to turn away the last possible customers for moribund metal? Anyone for anyone with a pulse deals again? How about rolling that backwards SUV into the deal! Sure! Look how well that worked out the first time! Or is the old “bait and switch” routine? Sorry, you don’t qualify for zero percent, but let’s talk. Either way, is this how a federally financed, [soon-to-be] taxpayer owned automaker should behave?
4. Damp Squib — Yes, GM’s got to do something to get rid of the dealers’ “rabbit in the python” inventory problem. If they can goose their sale numbers so that the newly nationalized automaker smells less like crap coming out of bankruptcy, so much the better. But wouldn’t it have been more effective if GM had offered cash on the hood—OK, lots more cash on the hood—than trying to entice car buyers with cheap loans? Hello? Consumer confidence is lower than an ant’s abdomen. Didn’t GM get the memo about Hyundai and Ford’s “if you get fired” guarantees? The exact same people who want/need six year loans are either how-low-can-we-go FICO folk or shit-scared of losing their jobs. So . . . good luck with that.
3. Another Bottom Line Boondoggle — The “Buy and Say Goodbye” sale reaffirms GM’s rep as America’s discount car company. To paraphrase Robin Hood’s merry men in Shrek, that’s bad; that’s very very bad. Still, it can’t be helped. More importantly, the sale continues GM pattern of obfuscation (an obfuscatory word for “misleading”). As Buickman has ranted for years, GM has so many special offers it’s virtually impossible for dealers to ascertain which discounts apply to what vehicle for whom. The bottom line: nobody knows the bottom line. Zero percent on what? This gimmick may mop up the remaining four-square suckers, but it runs completely counter to CEO Fritz Henderson’s transparency pledge. No surprise there.
2. The Timing Sucks — While car companies and Fourth of July sales go together like Rick Wagoner and a Gulfstream G4 (Dammit, I miss that plane!), now’s not the best time for GM to launch a Fire Sale, however fleeting. Surely someone at GM knows it has one chance to draw a line in the public’s mind between “Old GM” and “New GM.” Oh, wait, they’ve already done it! So, if the New “reinvented” GM is already a-born, whose sale is this anyway? Is it New GM’s garage sale or Old GM staggering to its grave? And why is it only 72 hours? What’s New GM going to do with the old vehicles that Old GM doesn’t sell? Not discount them? Sorry, guys, your customers are trained. Once again, GM shows its propensity for feeble half-measures.
1. Worst. Sale. Name. Ever. — “Buy and Say Goodbye”? WTF? The marketing geniuses at GM decided to meld their Fourth of July fire sale with a pitch for Cash For Clunkers custom. Hence the “Say Goodbye” bit. But who’s going to make that connection? And even if they do, the more obvious meaning remains: Say Goodbye to GM. Quick! Buy a car ’cause we’re about to take a dirt nap. Alternatively, “Buy A Car and Piss Off.” In fact, “Buy and Say Goodbye” has to be the worst name for a marketing campaign in the history of the world, ever.
As any recovering entrepreneur will tell you, there’s only one way to run a “going out of business sale”: discount the merchandise by a fixed percentage across the board. And call it by its real name. That GM’s suits couldn’t grasp this fact tells you all you need to know about their future prospects.
More by Robert Farago
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