By on September 10, 2009

First of all, I don’t have the embed code for this ad. For some reason, GM hasn’t sent it to TTAC and it’s not on YouTube. To see the ad, click over to Autoblog. Second, New GM Chairman of the Board Ed Whitacre should never have done this ad. GM’s single biggest problem, the one that trumps everything: their insular culture. By fronting this spot, Whitacre has become part of the problem. He’s crossed the line from gamekeeper to poacher. He’s lost his independent observer/taxpayers’ guardian status; he can no longer distance himself from the Lutzes and yutzes who animate the GM zombie. Whitacre’s now “one of the boys.” Third, the actual text of this ad [parsed after the jump] misses the boat.

“I’m Ed Whitacre, the Chairman of General Motors.”

What? No hello? Not very friendly, is it? First impressions count. Whitacre looks like a prison warden walking through The Big House. But is that rank-pulling exercise a good thing? GM has four brands left: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC. The whole chairman thing squares with Cadillac’s core clientele, maybe Buick. But Chevy and GMC? Those are supposedly working-class brands. Their average buyer is more in tune with the word “boss.” And not in a good way.

Yes, I know: Lee Iaccoca was Chrysler’s Chairman. But his famous 1984 ad didn’t start with him saying, “I’m Lee Iaccoca, Chairman of Chrysler.” (A subtitle provided the ID.) Lee’s opening line: “A lot of people think America can’t cut the mustard anymore.” That’s the way you do it. Grab ’em by the lapels and don’t let ’em go.

“Before I started this job I admit I had some doubts. [pause] Probably a lot like you.”

What doubts? Did you think GM cars were crap? Crap how? Unreliable? Uncomfortable? Badly built? What? And why “probably”? That’s an admission wrapped in a denial shrouded in mystery. Whitacre’s vague statement is so Old GM: wishy-washy and vague whilst trying (and failing) to be genuine and sincere.

“But I like what I found. I think you will too.”

What did he find? See: above. Except this time the ad’s trotting out GM’s secret weapon in its own self-destruction: the perception gap. Clearly, Eddy’s saying “I was wrong about GM—and so are you.” Which is another way of A) calling himself a close-minded ignoramus and B) calling GM customers close-minded ignorami. Idiots. Fools. It wasn’t OK for Old GM to insult its customers. It’s not right for New GM, either.

While we’re at it, “like” is not the kind of word that convinces people to risk their hard-earned money on a car from a company with a history of building crap (both relatively and absolutely). “Buy a Buick. You won’t love it. But you will like it.” That’s not going to cut the mustard, and he didn’t even say it. Clearly, GM doesn’t know the power of the specific. Or does it?

“Car for car, when compared to the competition, we win.”

What’s with the strange sentence construction? It’s no small thing: people listen to TV ads—if they listen—with one ear. Anything that makes it hard for them to understand what’s being said (let’s not even talk about Ed’s accent yet) dilutes the message.

Ed’s assertion sounds like it’s designed by lawyers. What does “car for car” mean? I know YOU know what it means. But again, what about people who aren’t really paying too much attention? Whitacre should have said “car vs. car.” Or something else entirely, that follows on from the previous statement.

And then there’s “we win.” HUH? By what metric? As the Chairman doesn’t cite an authoritative source for this declaration of victory, the ad asks viewers to take Mr. Clicky Shoes’ word for it. Yes, well, who the hell is Ed Whitacre? [Note: Ed’s the guy who said, “I know nothing about cars,” the day his appointment was announced.] And if Ed was so stupid as to have doubts about GM products he shouldn’t have had, why should we think he knows shit from shinola now?

“It’s as simple as that.”

Who would’ve thought it could get worse? But it does. “It’s as simple as that” is the same as saying “I know more than you do.” Or “I’m not going to debate this with you.” Or “STFU and buy a car from us.” Yeah, that’ll work.

“I just know if you get into one of our cars you’re going to like what you see.”

So, Ed you feel it in your water, eh? Not good enough. Taken literally, “you’ll like what you see” makes no sense; people don’t buy a car based on whether or not or how much they like the way the interior looks. Taken on a more metaphorical level, it’s a meaningless statement—that depends on Ed’s credibility. Again, he doesn’t have any. For 99.78% of the general population, Whitacre’s a completely unknown quantity. Judging him as a salesman, I don’t like what I see; Whitacre doesn’t have one tenth of Iaccoca’s star power.

“So we’re putting our money where our mouth is.”

The switch to the royal “we” is jarring and completely inappropriate. A personal message has instantly become just another example of a corporate shill mouthing off.

“Buy a new Chevy, GMC, Buick or Cadillac and if you’re not a hundred percent happy return it.”

Anyone else catch that momentary hitch between Chevy and Buick? Seriously; Whitacre is trying to remember the list. He’s mastered it, but it’s not quite there. By the same token, look at his finger point. It’s out of sync with what he’s saying. That’s what psychologist calls cognitive dissonance. Or what normal people call B.S.

In any case, the 60-day guarantee concept is deeply flawed. Buying a car is not like buying a packet of gum in a flavor you’ve never tried before. People hate car dealers. The only thing worse than the thought of buying a car is the thought of returning it. The customer is thinking, rightly, hassle, more hassle and more hassle, ad infinitum.

“We’ll take it back.”

How nice of you. But it’s not “We’ll give you every penny back, plus give you a toaster for your time.” Sigh.

“That’s our new, 60-day satisfaction guarantee.”

Think like a moron for a moment. Ed’s saying that the guarantee will be in place for 60 days. OK, I’m being picky, but this isn’t as clear as it should be. All they had to do was add the 60-day bit to the return statement. Oh, and the usual “no questions asked” caveat, that’s been around since 34 A.D. Like this:

“. . . if you’re not a hundred percent happy after the first sixty days, return it to your GM dealer for a full, no-questions-asked refund. Plus a new toaster for your time.”

“And as always you’ll get our 100,000 mile five-year powertrain warranty on every vehicle.”

That’s “your” vehicle, not “every” vehicle. And sorry, it’s not vee-hickle. Whitacre’s accent just crossed the border from regional to quirky. And that’s opened him up for parody (check back with TTAC in future posts). Whitacre could have, should have said “car” instead. Anyway, what’s the point of mentioning this? Trying to remember two deals is not as easy as one.

“That’s how strongly we feel about our cars and how committed we are to you.”

See how that doesn’t work? By introducing the warranty thing, the connection between the 60-day guarantee and the commitment has been broken. Touchback.

“So put us to the test.”

Test? I’m not buying a car with confidence, I’m buying a car to see if GM’s any good? No thanks. Not with my money. As PCH101 says (below), people want to buy a car they can keep. Duh. And if the car was any good, why would Eddy even mention returning it?

That’s the problem with this type of come on, and there’s no getting around it. And the more expensive the item, the more risk the consumer assumes. The more risk, the less likely they are to buy. Even with a money-back guarantee.

“Put us up against anyone.”

Huh? They’re introducing a new concept—comparison shopping—in the last ten seconds? What’s that got to do with the 60-day guarantee? If I don’t like the car relative to the competition I can return it? Obviously not. But this “we’re better than the other guys” is a different idea that smacks of throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks. Not that GM’s ever done that before . . .

“And may the best car win.”

This is a blatant attempt to echo “If you can find a better car, buy it.” But it’s totally different. Whitacre’s closing statement admits the possibility that the competition is better than GM’s products. How stupid can GM be? That stupid. And more. Watch this space.

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56 Comments on “Editorial: Between the Lines: GM BOD Chairman Ed Whitacre’s “Satisfaction Guaranteed” Ad...”

  • avatar


    Making fun of his accent? Please. That is punching below the belt.

    Gotta wonder how this plan actually executes. I suspect the customer experience at the dealership trying to envoke the right of return will terrible.

    After all, what incentive is there for the dealer to cooperate? Probably none. (Robert… can you find out?)

    What incentive is there for a dealer NOT to cooperate? Probably heaps.

    This will be an interesting test of how much control New GM has over the dealership experience.

  • avatar

    From the brain of Mark LaNeve. (Good title for a horror movie eh?)

    Smacks of; I’m the Chairman, this is what I’m going to say, I will be heard and I have spoken gentlemen!

    I would LOVE to know what the back’n’forth advice on this was. Much tut-tutting from the Ad-men/PR-flacks, no doubt.

    Somehow I’m reminded of the song Desperado.

  • avatar


    Would GM’s ad agency have picked a person with such a strong regional accent if it weren’t Whitacre?

    And the pronunciation of the word “vehicle” was unnecessarily distracting. “Car” would have done it.

  • avatar

    He’s crossed the line from gamekeeper to poacher. He can no longer distance himself from the Lutzes and yutzes who animate the GM zombie.

    If I was a betting man, I would bet that there is a possibility that Whitacre may be destined to become a CEO-Chairman, with Henderson either getting “reassigned” (demoted) or ousted. At the very least, somebody decided that Fritz isn’t videogenic enough for the role, which is a bit of a shot.

    That being said, I don’t think that the general idea of the ad is wrong. In fact, it’s a great idea to personalize the approach. But the ad itself is poorly executed.

    If Whitacre wants to build a relationship with the audience, then he should be sitting or standing in one place, making constant eye contact with the camera, and have a fireside-style chat with the viewers. It should be relatively low gloss, without the canned actors fawning over cars or hunched over a design table.

    And the money-back guarantee thing isn’t much, really. I’ve touted the idea of introducing a free service package to take the worry out of ownership, and that’s what I would be offering. People don’t wish to have a car that they can return, they would prefer to have a car that they aren’t going to want to return.

  • avatar

    Making fun of his accent? Please. That is punching below the belt.

    A big reason those Dr. Z ads for Chrysler failed was because of Zetsche’s thick German accent.

    So RF, would GM do better if Vince Offer from ShamWow! and Slap Chop fame were doing it?

  • avatar

    I read the “Tell Fritz” website today and 90% of the responses were dripping with arrogance and a FOAD attitude. Old GM culture is back and it’s pissed off.

    For me, this ad just continues that feeling.

    “STFU. Our vee-hickles are great. Buy them and quit your complaining because you don’t know what you’re talking about. ”

    I can’t think of any company that absolutely fails at feining sincerity like GM.

  • avatar

    Beyond the merits of whether or not GM makes good cars is of course the way they brand themselves. It’s obvious that what they are trying to say in this spot is this, “the adults are in charge again”. In other words they are trying to convey that they get it now, you can”t run a company without leadership, we now have that leadership. By having the CEO speak they are branding themselves as taking seriously the task at hand. Will it work, I suspect it will. Commericals are not meant to appeal to us intellectually but emotionally. So here we have a car company on the brink of diaster, bring out the tall older adult in the suit and what we see is Grandfather or the studious older Uncle who knows how to get things done. Americans like a turn around story. This tv ad is trying to captialize on that. Most people will not over think it, they will simply connect or not connect with the feeling that it gives them about the company. A feeling that may in the end benefit GM greatly.

  • avatar

    This campaign will actually prove that GM can’t give cars away. And it’s going to be sad. This will become the true death watch.

  • avatar


    Whitacre is GM’s Chairman of the Board, not its CEO. Which illustrates my point about the Chairman title not having any real meaning amongst the majority of die volk.

    And I don’t think this ad works on the emotional level. At all.

    British comedian Bob Monkhouse said “Sincerity is the most important thing for any performer. Once you learn how to fake that, you’ve got it made.”

  • avatar

    “We’ll take it back.” Okay, you can start with this stuffed shirt who couldn’t sell water in the desert.

    “So we’re putting our money where our mouth is.” What do you mean ‘our money’ is that my tax payment that you flushed down the toilet.. or?

    “Car for car, when compared to the competition, we win.” Oh, thats why you had a double digit loss in the last quarter even when the government was paying people to buy your cars.

    “And may the best car win.” The best car has been winning, and will continue to beat GM like a rented mule until you suits figure out that you need to make cars people want not throw half hearted rhetoric at us.

    This is just pathetic. Any local Chevy, Cadillac, GMC or Buick dealer could write better ad copy than this.

  • avatar

    Maybe you should analyze his handwriting.

  • avatar

    The best car(s) will win, as they have for 10 years. What in the current climate makes these people think they are poised for a rebound? The economy is still in the tank, people are losing their jobs, even the Japanese cars are not selling. This is not the time to play games with people.

    The time to save GM was years ago. Instead they forged ahead with the truck and suv platforms, stupid hybrid tricks, and pretended they had an electric car to sell.

    Normally we all couldn’t give a shit but now they are playing with our tax dollars. I really don’t know what they are supposed to sell but financing a take-back of sold product doesn’t seem very effing profitable to me.

  • avatar

    Is there a man in America more out of touch with GM’s current owners and potential customers?

    As a member of the former group, I say no.

  • avatar


    A former current owner eh? I’d have to say yes, there are plenty of people more out of touch with GM’s customers. Sadly, most of them work for GM. The out of touch people I mean.

  • avatar

    I still say that this is absolutely the wrong time to use a corporate honcho to define your brand. Arrogant, self-satisfied and short-sighted suits nearly drove this country into the ground, and DID run THIS company into the ground. The buying public has absolutely no trust in unrepentant execs like Waggoner, Fuld and Maddoff who have managed to equate CEO with SOB. GM needs to show that it is, at its heart, your neighbors, the people you go to church with, and the guys in your bowling league; real people who care deeply about what they do, and have been working damned hard to show that they can provide a car owning experience every bit as satisfying as anything that the Japanese can provide.

    Even if this is a crock of crap, this is the only way that GM can convince the American buyer to forgive them for the last 40 years and the bailout, and to give GM a tumble.

  • avatar

    It’s actually a pretty good commercial by GM standards. Stiff-looking old man, check. No remotely sexy product, check. Random shots of ‘design’ facilities, check.

    This is GM, so it’s not like Ed is going to sit in one of the products and smile. They don’t do that at GM.

  • avatar

    Robert – you’ve had your ups, you’ve had your downs. When you’re brilliant, you really are brilliant. And – IMHO as a marketing professional – this piece is definitely brilliant. Spot on.

  • avatar

    And we are supposed to believe it’s a real design studio not a sound stage. This is the Iaccoca ad from 25 years ago recycled with a fatherly figure who assures us that 60 months of payments on their cars isn’t a terrible financial decision on many fronts.

  • avatar

    I read the article and comments first and thought it was a bit much, but then I actually watched the Whitacre ad on the Autoblog site. I have to say that I’m in full agreement here. You can actually hear the condescension in his voice. It’s been said 1000 times already, but here it is for the 1001st time: meet the new GM, same as the old GM.

    It’s interesting to contrast this with the 1984 Lee Iaccoca ad. Look at the height and angle of the camera in each ad. You get the sense that Iaccoca is talking to you personally while Whitacre is talking to “you” (the collective population) from above (which, in his case, would probably be y’all).

  • avatar

    How fitting. First GM takes my tax money, then they get the double-dip guy to head the “new” shop.

    Consider the perception gap enlarged.

  • avatar

    My guess is the reason they posted this commercial over at Autoblog is evident in the comments. Anyone actually criticizes the cars and WHAM, hit with a threatening flame from a few very clear GM fanbois.

  • avatar

    +1 ClutchCarGo; Good illustration of why Mike Rowe was such a good spokesguy choice by the Ford people.

  • avatar

    In my checkered career as a mad adman for car companies (always VW), tire companies (Continental) and other multi-mega corps, I’ve done my share of trot-out-the-chief ads.

    They were usually

    – Done under duress
    – A last ditch, hail Mary effort
    – An attempt to demonstrate leadership
    – More targeted at our own troops and dealers to install confidence and to avert wholesale desertions

    We never ever sent the Chairman to the front. This is a job for the CEO. If things are so desperate that the CEO must do a Patton and lead from the front. Trotting out the Chairman is like sending the Queen to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban. Robert is right. This (badly written – Lutz, you are losing your edge) spot makes an overseer a partner in crime. And maybe that was the whole reason for it. If GM fails, it was outsider Whitacre’s fault. He’s being reeled in and set up.

    PS: I don’t mind the dialect. It’s the only thing that gives the spot some color. But the voice breaks up during the powertrain warranty .. or maybe it’s my internet connection.

  • avatar

    If I was a betting man, I would bet that there is a possibility that Whitacre may be destined to become a CEO-Chairman, with Henderson either getting “reassigned” (demoted) or ousted.

    God, I hope not. I feel the whole directorship model is badly compromised when you have executive and/or operational personnel involved in governance. Human nature being what it is, it ends up a conflict of interest. The Rick Wagoner President/CEO/Chairman is a terrible thing.

    This isn’t to say that the independent (snort) directors can’t be (and aren’t) part of the problem, but at least there should be the appearance of independence and proper governance. These people shouldn’t be seen to owe the operating and executive any favours.

    I agree that this badly tarnishes Whitacre’s credibility, even if he’s being honest. His job isn’t to shill product, it’s to kick the asses of people who do. He’s now complicit in anything GM does or doesn’t do.

  • avatar

    Putting “May the best car win” under four brand logos is a dick move. It sets up a mental competition between the four brands only: Which of the 4 is best? Chevy, Buick, GMC, or Cadillac? Self-afflicted cannibalization.

  • avatar

    Just doesn’t have the punch that Lee did. Nor the product.

  • avatar
    jonny b

    “Car for car, when compared to the competition, we win.”

    This is the line that really gets me. If it wasn’t for this line it would just be a lousy ad. This line makes it an infuriating ad. It insults our intelligence. Win? It’s the language of a child. Like who would win in a fight between Spiderman and Batman. What on earth do GM cars win at? Demolition derby? It reminds me of when Bush went on about “victory” in Iraq without giving us a clue as to what “victory” meant. Everyone likes victory. Everybody likes winning. But you can’t use hese words just because they make you feel good. They have to mean something. Please GM, tell me WHY your cars win. I’m dying to know.

  • avatar

    It’s the dialect … the script said “Car for car, when compared to the competition, we whine.”

  • avatar
    law stud

    Honda brings out the animated white guy, Ford brings out Mr. Dirty Jobs, etc. While others brag about their cars.

    Iaccoca at least could show a fancy 3d image of a car and brag about it when at that time the image was state of the art. GM like others have said is bringing out the leader at the wrong time when the public is upset at CEO’s. He should have said something like I love GM so much I’ll work for no salary (except stock options), bla bla, make US public happy and by the way we’re so state of the art and better now. Frankly with such a bad reputation, they might as make a joke of it to kill the talk. Nothing better at gossip/truth then to make the story worse to the point its unbelievable

    When the germans were losing the war Hitler went to the bunker and hoped V weapons would save the day. GM needs to bunker down and release their v weapons before its too late.

    Selling Opel is so bad for GM, they need to find a way to keep it. 1 million cars a year, boom, to the Canadians and Russian mob. Its like the Russians are invading Germany once again for engineers and are going to take it back to compete against us. For all we know Opels will be sent here to compete against GM.

  • avatar

    Still waiting for an apology.
    Just some sort of break with the delusional cycle of GM corporate denial.

  • avatar

    <em>“But I like what I found. I think you will too.”

    What did he find? See: above. Except this time the ad’s trotting-out GM’s secret weapon in its own self-destruction: the perception gap. Clearly, Eddy’s saying “I was wrong about GM—and so are you.” Which is another way of A) calling himself a close-minded ignoramus and B) calling GM customers close-minded ignorami. Idiots. Fools. It wasn’t OK for Old GM to insult its customers. It’s not right for New GM, either.

    The line is most likely referring to the various design sketches and clay models of presumably-upcoming GM products that “just happen” to be littering the commercial all around Whitacre. Were I to try and find a subtext to the line, it would seem more like a tacit admission that GM products have been mostly uncompetitive for a long time now, as well as a blue-sky affirmation that the future is bright. I’d have to squint pretty damn hard to see what you’ve come up with here, and to be honest the effort seems a touch disingenuous.

  • avatar
    coach bryant

    hello all. long time listener, first time blah, blah, blah.

    the 60 day money back “guarantee” guarantees (1.) problems for the dealerships (as if after the cash-for-clunker debacle they needed anymore) and (2.) an implied freebie. and we all know what a freebies worth. if it’s being given away it’s worth NOTHING.

    many of us know the end game of a company run by the government using union labor to build the product.

    this ad is the first step into the abyss.

  • avatar

    Ed roars up in a vintage, 1970s white Cadillac convertible, with longhorns on the grill, puts down a long-neck beer. He simultaneously shuts off Hank Jr. on the radio, lets out a small belch under his breath, and looks at the camera:

    “You’re a sissy-boy aren’t ya? Fraid to buy a GM car. Youuu must be stupider than those cows (motions over there). Did your mama marry her cousin? Dang. Well now y’all get to take it back now if you don’t like it! What the hell’s wrong with you Boy?”

    Ed takes a big swig out of the beer and starts the car as he swallows. He quickly drops the column shift all the way down with his boot on the brake:

    “Y’alls been stupid long enough. Boy, buy one of these GM cars, and I’ll throw in the scotch-guard for the leather for free, cause you’ll be gettin’ lots of these…”

    Ed motions to the two hot chicks in his back seat, now revealed, then he pauses and offers one more set of advice:

    “By the way, a GM car is a Cheva, Buke, G-um-see, and the prize heffer, Caddy-lac. Thank-ya Bobby Lutz for pointing out that yall’s too water’d on the brain to know that.”

    Ed roars off in the dust. Sales go through the roof.

  • avatar

    While I suspect that if Ed pulled a rabbit out of his rear-end in this ad, no one here would be impressed…

    …The reality is that when Ed dropped the SBC/Ameritech name as well as Cingular and made the marketing call to bring back AT&T….the howles and scorn from the ad “experts” in the blog world were huge…”dumbest move ever” was the constant refrain. A few years later, AT&T is a top player and the reputation and recognition of the brands are top line. All this to say, the guy has a track record with controversial marketing moves…and so far he’s been right.

  • avatar

    He’s walking during the entire commercial, as if he’s speaking AT people rather than taking the time to stop and speak WITH the people who will choose which car to purchase.

    “May the best car win” is an insult to the sensibilities of his audience, in the same way that Fritz claimed the Volt will achieve 230 mpg.

    Further, the statement “may the best car win.” assumes the cars are competing for some sort of victory: Quality Build, Long term Durability, Driving Experience, Retention of Value, Maintenance costs, list of features?

    In my 40 years of driving, I have never purchased a GM automobile, because it has never been the best car for me.


  • avatar

    Ha ha +1 Detroit-X :)

    They should hire you, THAT ad would actually work!

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    You know, this really IS a stupid promotion.

    As someone else mentioned, “Free scheduled maintinence” is a far bigger winner, and that one is cheap too.

    Add in “all dealers must have loaner cars for services over 2 hours” (easy enough to do, this is GM, queen of the fleet), and you might get someplace.

  • avatar

    rpol35 :
    “Maybe you should analyze his handwriting.”


    Nothing any different than the flood of disingenuous crap hurled at us daily; commercials are essentially attempts at mind control, no matter their source.

    He’s no more a liar than the Subway exec who approved stupid ads that show beautiful, meat-stuffed sandwiches for $5 – go buy one, and see what you get.
    Or an oil company, trotting up a young researcher bragging about “growing algae for fuel”. Yeah, right – been working on it for years.

    GM cars will be better, for sure. But will they be good enough? What he’s saying is drive one for a while and find out.

  • avatar

    Contrast this ad with Ford using Mike Rowe… there is NO doubt which one is more effective.

    I have to listen to people in suits all day long tell me stuff, I surely don’t need another suit repeating the message in regards to his companies struggles.

    As much as dislike GM’s normal “buy America” style sales pitches at least those center around a positive emotion. But having someone telling me to try it just because its gar-un-tee-ed is an instant turn off / tune out.

    The only thing “new” about new GM is the color of the tie the suits are wearing.

  • avatar

    Mr Weaver you are right on the money. This is a lousy gimmick. You (GM) have a perception gap and are saying the right things with “money where your mouth is” and then fail miserably to deliver. Either there really isnt a perception gap and you suck and are afraid to truly offer a knock your socks off warrenty/service or once again you have let MBA no nothings and finance bean counters thwart you. The time for half measures is OVER. Radical change and bold moves that reset the industry bar could save them. Half measures and a very lame policy that is probably infested with so much fine print your eyes will bleed wont get it done.

  • avatar

    What GM needs to do is get people behind the wheels of their cars to prove that some of them rate reasonably against the competition

    A few years back Vauxhall offered a 3 day test drive of their cars & vans – obviously you had to book but it got people behind the wheel – they’re sales increase (for a short time) and it was declared a success.

    The problem with 60 day money back is that your have to pay up before having your extended test drive!

  • avatar

    To me it’s like a restaurant saying, “If you find a fly in the soup, you get to eat for free”. Really makes me want to chow down. The automatic implied buy back has a negative connotation.

  • avatar

    Ok, in the bad-olde days, didn’t the bad olde-GM sell cars like hotcakes to the rental fleets? And when approaching it’s death-throes decide two things to cut the size of incentives and to preserve resale value, namely 1) “price the car closer to the actual transaction price”, and 2) “reduce fleet sales”??

    Well, we know how the incentive thing worked out, the growth of GM’s incentives seemed inversely related to the slide in GM’s stock price and cash-reserves (and me thinks a fair portion of the cash-burn was due to the incentives themselves.)

    Likewise, we know that if GM truly reduced sales to fleets and has sustained this, then they reduced one of their channels for a) moving new metal, and b) providing their dealers with used (post-fleet/lease) metal…

    I don’t know if new-GM is flinging cash on the hood (yet) as olde-GM did, but if the fleet and lease channels have been reduced to the point where GM can’t move enough new metal, or provide dealers with enough used metal (this seeming unlkely given the current economy), perhaps they have have inadvertantly (or deliberately) created a new cchannel…

    Cars purchased and returned under this program can a) be sold by the dealer as a “low-milage demo”, or b) go directly to auction and fetch a higher price than post-fleet cars…

    If this be the case, then beware, that low-mileage demo, or otherwise used car, may be one that was returned by a 1) person gaming the system for 2 months of “non-equity participation” (i.e. carefree and careless redline) driving, or 2) legit buyer who returned unsatisfactory, or defective, goods…

  • avatar

    I don’t have the embed code for this ad.

    There is an extension for Firefox called DownloadHelper, which automatically detects the video on any flash based player and allows you to download it. Then, you can put it on youtube.

    There you go:

  • avatar

    Mentioned this in the other story about this program on TTAC.

    All it will take is one person getting shafted when trying to return a car within the 60 day period and this program will be all for not.

    How many crappy dealers are there in the US hocking a GM branded car or truck?

    1 story hits the news wires about getting screwed at the hands of this program and it’s more wasted taxpayer dollars down the tubes.

  • avatar

    thanks for the fabulous take. for that, you need a dose of spike milligan’s “fly in my soup” sketch:

  • avatar


    Would there have been anything this man could have said that you wouldn’t have deconstructed down to the molecular level and infused with snark?

    My sense is that no, you would have deployed your considerable armamentarium of writerly talents to belittle virtually any message GM management was to forward. Whether for fun, out of habit or to play to the cheap seats, I don’t know.

    Which begs the question: what could Whitacre have said by way of a real-world reintroduction of GM that you would have respected?

  • avatar


    1. Whitacre is the wrong guy to pitch GM products. For a whole host of reasons, the most of important of which is that he’s lost his objectivity. He’s been co-opted. Check out what Lutz said in Automotive News today: “Whitacre’s an independent guy who is a very successful and respected businessman in another industry who was asked by the federal government to assume this responsibility and who is now initially with a little bit of reluctance and a great deal of doubt has immersed himself in GM.” In other words, Eddy’s swigged copious carafes of GM Kool-Aid.

    2. Whitacre could have stood stock still and said. . .

    “A lot of people are angry at General Motors. They’re not happy with the fact that we’re government-funded. They’re not happy with the quality of our products. They’re not happy with the service they’ve received from our dealers.

    My name is Ed Whitacre. I’m the Chairman of the Board at the New General Motors. I’m the new boss. I’m the man in charge of making sure that GM’s customers—old and new—get the best automotive products and services money can buy.

    From now on, there are going to be big changes at General Motors. We’re going to change the way this company works so we can build better cars and provide better service. We’re going to meet the competition, and then we’re going to beat the competition.

    By building, selling and servicing class-leading cars, we’re going to earn your trust. And then we’re going to pay back every last cent we borrowed from American and Canadian taxpayers.

    I’m not asking you to believe me. I’m asking you to watch General Motors; watch as we climb out of the hole that we made.

    It won’t happen overnight. Winning back your trust, earning your business, is going to be a long, hard slog. But every day, we’re going to get a little better. Starting today.

    Starting today, GM will back every car we make, every car we HAVE made, for 10 years or 100,000 miles. No questions asked. If something goes wrong with your Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet or GMC vee hickle, just bring it in to a GM dealer and we’ll fix it. We’ll lend you one of our new products for no charge. And we’ll make sure the job is done right. No excuses. No exceptions.

    That’s right, even if you already own a GM product, your warranty is now extended to 10 years, 100,000 miles.

    Yes, this guarantee will cost GM money. Money that we borrowed from you. But this is the only way I know to force GM to take accountability for its actions.

    Everything either grows or dies. GM’s done dying. I’m Ed Whitacre and I’m going to make sure that GM becomes America’s best—not biggest, BEST—carmaker. A company worthy of your trust, business and pride.

    Thank you for your time.”

    Or something along those lines.

  • avatar

    Well, fair enough. That does sound better.

  • avatar

    2. Whitacre could have stood stock still and said. . .

    “A lot of people are angry at General Motors.

    Wow! That would have been a far better ad.

  • avatar

    This is a lame attempt to turn this guy into Iacocca.

  • avatar

    Why couldn’t they give the CEO position to a young, and visionary guy, who has the ability, desire and energy to turn GM around!? They had to give it to a guy with a prostate the size of a potato, who tinkles every time he takes a leak. This guy looks just like his company: old, outdated, and like he’s about to give up the ghost and die. Nothing will ever change at GM, and by now I’m sure that they will die one of this days and go away… and be forgotten… just like their new CEO…

  • avatar


    Where have you been hiding? Many people have suggested similar approaches (especially the 10/100 warranty).

    The 10/100 warranty only works FOR GM if the cars are really that good. The retroactive extension, while attractive to the consumer (everybody hates missing the cutoff) is likely fatal, because the ’00’s through ’04’s are probably not that good. There would be an immediate and painful extra drain on GM’s cash flow.

  • avatar

    Wasn’t Albert Einstein who defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?”

  • avatar

    I sadly bought a 2009 Chevy Impala LTZ. I had to pay list price $31,100.00. I need my head examined. I keep a box for all the bits and parts that fall off. My car is less than 2 moinths old and I am going to find a nice beater car and park this disgrace of American Junk car parked in the driveway. And Oh! GM won’t buy it back, it has 500 miles on it and it is a trainwreck of a car!

  • avatar

    I’m late to the party, but here’s my 2 cents.

    I agree with RF that vee-hicle is annoying.

    Whiteacre doesn’t come across as a contry bumpkin, but rather as one of the actors on the old TV show “Dallas”. I just know he’s going to put his arm around me, walk me into the F/I office, pull my pants down and boink me. Since I’m not gay, this has no appeal for me.

    Whiteacre’s hole manner suggests that GM isn’t even thinking of improving quality – just selling the idea that they already have. I resent the implication that I’m stupid enough to believe that.

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