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A series of children ask the question “Would You?” The question starts with easy-to-agree-to statements like “Would you put my little brother in a car without a car seat?” and ends with “Would you drive me without On Star?” The children go on to say “By the time I’m in college you won’t know how you drove without it.”
There are three things to admire about this spot:
- Finally GM takes a risk – Okay, personally I think the ‘Art & Science’ look of the Cadillacs is a risk, too, but as an umbrella brand, GM is mostly known these day for changing top personnel, fretting about pension liabilities, offering deep discounts and 0% interest and cutting jobs. This is not the ideal brand positioning for America’s leading carmaker. This spot is risky because of the execution (the children may be controversial) and because GM is calling On Star an important safety feature like an airbag – something consumers may or may not accept. But taking a risk is the only chance GM has to be remembered. The opposite of brand love is not brand hate – it’s indifference.
- Good Brand Association with Something New – which is again not what American car manufacturers are known for these days. Amazing that after having our clocks cleaned on fuel economy in the late 70′s by the Japanese, we made the same mistake again with hybrid vehicles, isn’t it? At least GM is taking a small risk on a real innovation here.
- Clear, Straightforward Execution – helps focus the consumer on the message.
GM makes three significant mistakes with this spot:
- No ‘Reason Why’ – There is a lot of talk about On Star in this spot, but no reason why it is important. GM can’t assume people will know what On Star is and why it will make their car safer. And to avoid the inevitable e-mail from the GM PR agency, yes, I know how much money has already been spent explaining the benefits of On Star to consumers and I am sure that the unaided awareness of On Star is high, but you still have to give the consumers a credible reason to believe the advertising message and it is not here.
- The Brand Promise is Weak – because General Motors does not say ‘On Star is standard on every vehicle General Motors sells.’ Without that, the On Star promise sounds like a bunch of marketing doubletalk.
- The Branding of GM is Weak – Some brands – Old Navy and Gap are good examples – can get away with not showing their brand name until the end because the executional style of their spots is so distinctive and memorable. GM does not fall into this category. Some tasteful upfront branding is necessary to tie GM more firmly to the On Star message.
Branding Bottom Line -
GM takes an important step towards standing for something. They’re just not completely sure, yet.