The Island Of Lost Brands

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

The Saab deal’s death today marked the third attempted brand sale by GM to go down in flames since exiting bankruptcy. Whether the decision not to sell Opel was a good one remains to be seen (big time!), but at Saturn’s Spring Hill, Tennessee plant, which goes on standby this week, there’s less ambiguity about the situation. Meanwhile, Wild-Ass Rumors that Brilliance will rescue the Saturn brand have been chased by MSM scaremongering about a Chinese-owned GM, lending special irony to the fact that GM’s only brand-divestment success is the $150m Hummer-to-Tengzhong deal which is still pending approval by the Chinese government. Volvo nearly found a home in the Middle Kingdom with Geely, but things are crumbling and new bids are expected. Which means all of Detroit’s orphaned brands are still up in the air, at best. Long-term worries about the strength of the US market may be to blame, although the advanced state of the Hummer deal works against that theory (as Hummer’s viability lives and dies in the US market). Maybe the Chinese mandate for auto sector consolidation has potential Chinese buyers focusing on shoring up their domestic status. Or maybe the Chinese realize that brand equity must be earned, not bought. That appears to be the lesson to be learned from the rise of Hyundai and Kia. Fueled by mainstream design a true compact-to-luxury product range, and a relentless focus on product, they may well herald a decline in the importance of brand strategy. For an industry that practically invented the idea of selling a product without actually mentioning the product, this could be an interesting adjustment.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Beemernator Beemernator on Nov 25, 2009

    For those wondering what the Jordan Playboy actually looked like: Warning: do not use Google Image Search to try and find pictures of "Jordan Playboy." It brings up a whole lot of NSFW pictures for some unknown reason, hehehe.

  • NeonCat93 NeonCat93 on Nov 25, 2009

    The first time I saw the Jordan ad was in the basement of the Case Western Reserve Transportation museum in Cleveland (a great museum, btw, with some very nice rare cars). I think it was over a Jordan but it's been a few years. Anyway, go visit the museum.

  • Nick Nick on Nov 25, 2009

    I had never heard of Jordan before. Interesting piece of trivia. SAAB? What's the value of their real estate and the scrap value of their machinery, net of all liabilities? I will give you that less 20%.

  • TonUpBoi TonUpBoi on Nov 25, 2009

    NickR, Keep in mind that during the Roaring 20's, there were at least 50 different brands of automobiles for sale in the US - and by that, I'm thinking only of the ones that actually had a real factory, a production line, and were putting out cars in at least three digit figures per year (other than Ford and GM, five digit annual production was major league). All but about ten brands were dead by 1936, most of them were effectively gone about five years before that. The US auto market in the 1920's was very much like the Chinese auto market today.