Brand: GM (General Motors)
Execution: TV – Super Bowl
Target: Japanese Car Buyers
A robot on a GM assembly line drops a bolt.Â The line stops as an alarm goes off.Â The supervisor looks frowningly at the robot who looks and sounds ashamed.Â All of the other robots and human workers look on.Â The robot is let go and looks dejected.Â He sees GM cars drive by and sadly remembers his job.Â He tries a series of jobs including selling real estate and being a fast food drive-thru speaker box.Â In abject desperation he throws himself off of a bridge.Â All of the previous is to the song “All by Myself”. Then as the GM robot is sinking through the water he wakes up and realizes that he had a bad dream.Â Â He is on the assembly line at night when it is not running.Â The GM logo appears and a voiceover says, “The GM 100,000 mile warranty.Â It’s got everyone at GM obsessed with quality.
This is a brilliantly executed :60 second spot whose strong storytelling lent itself well to the epic nature of the Super Bowl.Â The animation of the robot with minimalist movements and R2D2-like sounds adds a personality to a piece of metal and steel not unlike the personality that cars assume in the hands of their owners.Â The spot singlemindedly focuses on the humiliation the robot feels for making a mistake on the assembly line which does support the underlying brand positioning of “obsession with quality.”Â The over-the-top soundtrack works because the idea of a robot with emotions is amusing and novel, at least for an industrial robot.Â The execution of this spot is nearly perfect given the concept.
We think General Motors has made a strategic mistake with this spot by putting it under the GM logo.Â Although General Motors and the GM brand name are familiar to most consumers, the brand is too broad to support such an ambitious claim.Â Japanese companies still personify quality and GM’s attempt to pull the mantle of quality onto its shoulders is not credible.Â Moreover, it’s not clear that a consumer buying a Chevy or a Saturn will think “GM quality” and associate it to these brands during purchase.Â As well conceived and staged as it is, the mandate of this spot is far too broad.
A smarter path for GM would have been to pick a specific brand and focus relentlessly on improving the brand image along the lines of quality or durability.Â Using the robot to launch a defiant “American Quality” pitch for Cadillac or Saturn would have been more effective.Â Above all, GM needs to avoid challenging Toyota directly on quality (and arguing with consumers deeply held beliefs about this issue) and find a niche within this brand equity to own.
GMs robot has more personality than any Buick.