Tuesday, April 04, 2006
GM vs the Edge
Lots of buzz about GM's peer produced ad campaign "backfiring", being a "mistake", that GM is slow to "respond".
I fundamentally disagree.
This is life at the edge. This is why the edge is hyperefficient. Companies with largely obsolete products and strategies suddenly face huge selection pressure when they shift to the edge; they have to begin learning how to adapt, or they die.
So, I think this is a great move from GM. It begins the series of conversations they must engage in they're to build real competencies in adaptivity, plasticity, liquidity, etc; if they're to discover new sources of value creation - if they are to survive in the new world.
Also, note that GM isn't "responding" in any meaningful sense. Hopefully, they know at some level - even at the relatively weak marketing level - that this is the conversation that should happen, and that "responding" in a corporate sense (ie, Washington Post style) would do much more harm than good.
Finally, you can note the jaded marketers' take on the whole thing: that it's just an exercise in buzz at the expense of brand equity.
I think that may be a little true, but it's more accurate to say that GM's finally woken up to the fact that it's brand desperately needs authenticity - and this is a very nice way to end the bullsh*t and nonsense that became branding in the latter half of the 20th century.
I agree with you that would
be the case if
GM seizes this opportunity. They might be desperate enough to do just that, but I doubt it. Having lived in Detroit for a number of years and, full disclosure, having my father's inside view of the industry, the American automakers are a very closed and conservative industry that seeks mainly to root out innovation. My guess is that GM will begin to weed out the more subversive ads within the next week when someone up the executive ladder gets wind of them. That is too bad.
"the bullsh*t and nonsense that became branding in the latter half of the 20th century"
Now that is an interesting statement, but it needs to be unpacked.
Any chance you're going to post about such bullshyte and nonsense?
Help us articulate why dealing with brand management feels like such a spiritually sullied endeavour?
Having some experience with the folks in this arena, brand managers for the big 3 and for that matter, most of the Fortune 500 that use 'big media' methods are really at a loss on how to tap into [more realistically, contain] a completely open dialog with their customers.
Mark KVamme of Sequoia Capital during a podcast with John Furrier of PodTech (1-26-06) hits a very good point on this transition. He highlights the fact that the 18-35 year old male 'eyeballs' are essentially gone from traditional media while the ad spending splits between traditional media v. the internet is still ~80%-20%.
I agree that this is a good first step for GM. While these shifts are obvious to those watching it closely, this changing landscape will create winners and losers based on what smart risks are taken.
And my prediction was correct. They've begun weeding out the ads and rather than replace that with dialog or use it with conversation, they've just gone about it quietly. Like the Bushies they are declaring victory and going home - empty handed.