Proof Positive General Motors Still Doesn’t Get It

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

General Motors, in its continuing desperate attempts to resuscitate itself, is now offering a new program that allows buyers to return any GM car within 60 days of purchase for a full refund, no questions asked. Will it help? Will it produce sales they wouldn’t have made anyway? I don’t know. I doubt it, but this posting is about how General Motors is marketing the program.

To sell its newest ploy to attract customers, GM is running television ads featuring the company’s new Chairman, Ed Whitacre. (Apparently Megan Fox wasn’t available.) Before going any further, let me say that I don’t know Mr. Whitacre, and mean him no disrespect. He’s an experienced, accomplished senior executive who may very well be God’s gift to auto industry workouts. What he’s not is a marketing guy.

Take a look at the ad and ask yourself, “Who is their target audience?” Ed Whitacre is 67 years old, and looks it. He’s unattractive. His head’s too small for his torso. He’s pale and wearing a dark, not particularly well-tailored business suit that’s more appropriate for an undertaker – How prophetic? – than the comeback kid, dynamo-technician/salesman GM needs. And he has a strong regional accent* which sounds more harsh than charming, and may not appeal to some demographics.

So, what are we talking about here? What’s the customer base he’s trying to attract? Sixty-plus rural Texans? It’s breathtaking, and exactly what you would expect from an auto manufacturer known for being behind the times and out of touch with its industry’s consumers.

I say we, the People, cut our losses and dump our collective stock in GM while it still has some value.


*Whitacker is from Ennis, Texas, current population 20,000, 40 MapQuest miles south of Dallas.

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