GM, we need you to succeed. So please start making better ad decisions.
You promised product-centric ads that sold differentiating features. (I even defended you in advance for that position in a post months ago.) But now, as a recent Ad Age article notes, you are using a family template and tag line that locks each model into a corporate shell instead of freeing them to be what they need to be to their own audiences. (Then you even run them back to back in the same magazine, which probably doesn’t make much targeting sense unless it is, in fact, that corporate effect you’re after.)
Here’s what I consider the bottom line: people don’t need constant reminders of the parent company’s battle for its life. They’re buying cars, not making charity donations. I believe that reminders of the GM “situation” are counterproductive, at best.
But as a copywriter, my big problem is with the tone of the ads themselves. Take the Malibu ad. “By definition, an Accord is a compromise.” Sorry, but NO ONE — not even someone predisposed to buy American — is going to take that one seriously. (And the copy doesn’t even attempt to explain the point.) The Malibu may have plenty to offer. But you don’t “settle” for an Accord — and some junior writer’s oh-so-clever idea of looking up “accord” in the dictionary doesn’t lead to insight – just word play.
Frankly, it carries the same tone as the pallid beach weakling calling after the bronze bully who has just taken his girl. “Oh yeah, well you’re gonna get skin cancer some day!” Obviously his girlfriend compromised.
The Cadillac “version” of the ad is only a little better. “Sorry about the apple cart.” At least the copy tries to pay it 0ff, claiming that bold design and innovative technology “overturn” every convention. But real details? Nowhere to be found — they must have rolled away when the apple cart overturned. So we’re left with another fairly empty claim of some kind of innovation and superiority, but little reason to believe it. Not like we haven’t heard it before.
Maybe I’d be less annoyed if the same issue of Ad Age didn’t point out the hourly rates top creative officers are billed out at to their clients. Makes space shuttle toilet seats sound like a bargain.
So in closing don’t feel such a need to be defensive about your past, or even that “rallying spirit” about your present. You can’t save the company in every ad; you can sell the car, which will in turn do more to save the company.
It’s about your cars. If they’re as good as you say, let them lead the effort. And do it with those innovations or other proof points you claim are equal to or better than the imports. Get past the cocky or condescending attitudes that no one feels you are entitled to display. Instead, find a feature or two that really does separate your vehicles from their competitors. And use them.
Until you sell your cars in your ads, you’ll never sell them in your dealerships.