GM Marketing Czar Bob Lutz to Ad Agencies: It's All Good

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

You may recall that GM’s Marketing Maven spent forty-minutes or so “crapping” on GM’s current ads before jetting off to Montserrat. After sipping a Piña Colada and walking in the rain, Lutz returned to assure GM’s nervous ad agencies that the status remains quo. (Quel surprise!) Automotive News [sub] reports that the former Car Czar “has no immediate plans to review or fire the automaker’s advertising agencies even though he publicly criticized a recent Buick ad campaign.” Apparently, Maximum Bob declined to specify a deadline for the mad men to get their shit together. But he “acknowledged GM needs to move fast — within the next three to six months — to improve the public’s perception after it spent 39 days in federal bankruptcy protection.” Now why they’d have to go and mention that? Jeez. Anyway, three to six months is a pretty big window from which Leo Burnett and friends will not get defenestrated. And boy, do we have some primo Lutzisms after the jump.

If after strong senior management direction, the agency, for some reason, repeatedly fails to come up with a product where the customer says, “Yes! That’s exactly what I want” and fails to move the needle, then obviously you start reviewing the agency, Lutz said.

Exactly! Accountability is like tomorrow (or a frustrated male porn star/car reviewer): it never comes.

I will always give existing agencies a chance because as one agency head once told me in my career, “The way the American automobile companies deal with agencies is almost a system that prevents brilliant advertising,” Lutz said.

Almost? Whew! Dodge a bullet there, eh?

“I don’t want happy employees on the screen saying how much they enjoyed building the car,” Lutz says. “I want an interesting ad that’s memorable. I want people to have a positively changed perception after viewing the ad.”

Beats the hell out of those negatively changed perceptions.

Lutz is critical of the marketing and advertising process used by many large corporations — a process that he believes actually hinders creativity.

“It’s much like a sausage machine. Many people at the operating level check to make sure this message is here and ‘let’s not forget this piece and let’s not do that because this may offend this group of people,'” Lutz said.

So by the time senior management see a proposed ad, Lutz said it becomes “this highly sanitized product that is often devoid of any risk or breakthrough capability.”

Yeah! Those big corporations suck.

Your TTAC takeaway: Bob Lutz doesn’t “do” irony. And yet, and yet, the best part of this welcome addition to the Lutz oeuvre is actually the AN picture caption: “Lutz: Not afraid of making changes.”

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Jolo Jolo on Jul 30, 2009

    If after strong senior management direction, the agency, for some reason, repeatedly fails to come up with a product where the customer says, “Yes! That’s exactly what I want” and fails to move the needle, then obviously you start reviewing the agency, Lutz said. I thought the car companies were supposed to come up with a product that people want, not the ad agency. I guess I've had this wrong all along...

  • Seth L Seth L on Jul 30, 2009

    Gah! I see them in my nightmares.

  • Lou_BC Ironic, the Honda Ridgeline, a truck that every truck guy loves to hate is in 6th place.
  • 28-Cars-Later I keep forgetting I own it, but the space look on the ext cab reminds me of my 'Yota pickup of the same model year. I'm pretty sure there is some vintage of Hilux which features the same looking ext cab window (maybe '88?) its a shame these things are mostly gone and when available are $1,000,000,000 [INSERT CURRENT CURRENCY].
  • Sayahh Imagine if Ford had Toyota design and build a Mustang engine. It will last over 300k miles! (Skip turbo and make it naturally aspirated.) Maybe Yamaha will help tune it...
  • Sobhuza Trooper Isuzu's crime was to build some damn good trucks.Shame on them.
  • El scotto Listen, unless you were Lord Headly-Stempmoor or such when you got off the off the boat, boot in Canada, you got the short end of the stick. People got on the boat, these days a plane, to escape famine, becoming cannon fodder in yet another stupid war, or the government thought it was A-OK to let soldiers kill you. Juneteenth is just a way to right one of the more bad ideas in the American experiment. Instead we have commenters who were buying tater chips and diet soda at Wal-Mart and got all butt-hurt because they heard someone who wasn't speaking English. I'm going to go fix a couple of frankfurters with salsa and guacamole and wash them down with a lager or three
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