Wednesday, June 3, 2009

GM sees the light

It’s a new day, and GM has seen the light. How so? Watch its new ad, released online in the wake of its bankruptcy filing, archived at Advertising Age.

See the sun? See how it drapes those glass edifices in its warm amber light? That’s how you know it’s a new day for the car manufacturer. Any more sunlight in those first fifteen seconds and the ad would be solar powered.

There are a lot of pledges that the company is stronger, faster, better. Enough that those of you my age and older might be reminded of the intro for the Six Million Dollar Man. Much like that fictional character, GM is rebuilding itself and has the technology to make it happen. Although the script takes great pains to emphasize that message, the details - the proof in the proverbial pudding - are lacking.

Certainly, the imagery is fairly standard, and somewhat trite. Most of the content serves to remind us of what GM has done in the past. Obviously, the company has a long legacy, and one it can’t - nor shouldn’t - ignore. Yet, if you are stressing the fact that it is a brand-new day for your company, you should probably rein in the nostalgia a bit more.

In between those images of GM vehicles carefully selected to boost confidence the company will survive - see how that truck stands up to that hefty payload - we get images of athletes. Again, nothing particularly new here. Athletes signify speed, performance, endurance, overcoming odds - all of which GM wants us to associate with its brand. Still, I couldn’t help notice the image of the hockey player face down on the ice as the voiceover artist talked about shortcomings in cost competitiveness. It was an ironic choice, given that hockey is something Detroit does well. Just look at the Stanley Cup finals this year, at least so far.

At the end, the voiceover artist says GM is focused on chapter one, a sly reference to Chapter 11. It’s meant to convey the company is starting over, but the images and script just don’t have that new car smell.

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