So Little Money, So Little Timeby Tim Manni
General Motors is in quite a predicament. With sales tanking, and the repayment of a government loan looming, the automaker is forced to balance a strict budget — all the while promoting several brands that have already lost some significant identity.
After making several budget cuts in the sports marketing department, GM’s vice president for North American marketing says he doesn’t foresee any additional big cuts in their sports sponsorships. GM’s absence will be felt after they declined (wisely) from advertising in the marketing mecca known as the Superbowl. The automaker has also ended a contract a year early with golf icon Tiger Woods for their Buick brand — a deal which cost GM $7 million a year.
According to NBC, the network has sold nearly 90% of their Superbowl ad slots. With 30-second slots costing $3 million, GM claimed to have refrained from advertising in the Superbowl this year because of “timing” issues — when we really know it’s because they didn’t wish to make their second-biggest blunder since arriving to Washington in private jets.
After avoiding such a mass market, what direction are GM’s advertisers left to go in? Advertising guru Seana Mulcahy says “GM has a choice and it’s the same one many of the new media-challenged marketers face today. Either take the lead of a brand like Coke, an early new media adopter that has launched a variety of projects designed to complement its more traditional efforts, or ignore all the social media signage and cling onto a model which, while familiar to all and still effective in many respects, does not engage consumers in the manner to which they have become accustomed.”
One of GM’s problems is identity. With so many brands and models, GM would be hard-pressed to identify a single demographic their products best identify with. Whether Mulcahy’s opinion is the right path for GM has yet to be seen. They had better figure it out soon, because they won’t be identifying with the nearly 98 million people that are expected to watch the big game this year.