Category Archives: Views

Corporations cannot live in a bubble!

Today Ad Age posted an article based on an interview with Bob Lutz. When I read the comments, it was clear the 99% of the respondents were very critical of the interview. My take is that Bob understands that a wholesale shift has to be made. He understands obviously that he is retiring later this year and so is likely to be thinking about setting tone and leadership that will outlast his tenure. Given all that I know of Mr. Lutz he has every intention of shaking it up and has the attitude and experience to make good on that promise. My personal wish for him would be to start with thinking (and ultimately implementing) about GM as a consumer company. That seems so stupid and obvious I know but can you tell me of one company that has really been consumer driven?? I’d be happy to argue that with anyone!

This is not a marketing and advertising discussion alone, instead this is about consumers input every step of the way…and not just in focus groups. Social media makes this immensely possible and it no longer has tobog down a process or a team of people who claim they cannot listen or respond to all inputs…the answer is they CAN listen now and they dont HAVE to respond to each one but ASK for the input. Don’t get me wrong, I am the last person to want to run a company or a division via committee but at the same time, corporations can no longer afford to live in a bubble…Detroit is a great big soapy bubble so this is no small task.

I’d love to hear your thoughts…

Auto News: Lutz Promises Drastic Changes in GM Marketing
Says Focus Needed on Brand Differentiation in Design, Advertising

DETROIT (AdAge.com) — General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz says one of the first things he plans to do as the new head of marketing is make “drastic” changes in the “tone and content” of all of GM’s advertising, according to Automotive News.
When asked today during a web chat how he could improve GM’s advertising and his thoughts on Buick’s new TV spot for the Enclave crossover and LaCrosse sedan, Mr. Lutz wrote, “Let me put it this way: That Buick commercial tested very well, which is not the same as saying that it’s an effective ad. … I think you will very quickly see a drastic change in the tone and content of our advertising. And if you don’t, it will mean that I have failed.”

The Buick spots were done by Topolewski, Ferndale, Mich.
Mr. Lutz, after planning to retire later this year, agreed to take on GM’s marketing role Friday when the automaker emerged from 39 days of bankruptcy protection with its most profitable assets.

Rumors about review
There is speculation that GM will put some of its many advertising agencies up for review, but in an interview Friday, GM executives for Chevrolet, Buick and GMC denied their brands’ agencies were on the chopping block.

Mr. Lutz says his first priority will be to create the public relations and advertising messages that will “not only break through but actually leave consumers with an enhanced view of each of our brands.”

“Easier said than done,” he said, “but we must do it.”

Standing out through design
Mr. Lutz said that can happen as GM works to increasingly differentiate its vehicles through improved design.
For example, he said, the new Chevrolet Equinox small SUV and the soon-to-be launched GMC Terrain small SUV “don’t even look like they were made by the same manufacturer.”
Lutz gave some other indications as to how he thinks GM can better define its brands.
“The new Buick design direction, coupled with a soft and luxurious driving experience, is radically different from the more angular and sporty Cadillac design direction,” Mr. Lutz wrote. “Marketing also needs to respect brand differences in how we advertise the various brands and to whom.”
With that in mind, Mr. Lutz said, he intends to have Cadillac rival German luxury and performance brands such as BMW, while Buick’s task is to take on Lexus.

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Daughters Go To Bentonville

Marketing powerhouse Julie Roehm arrived at Bentonville, Arkansas with the 21st century equivalent of the counterculture flowers-in-her-hair.  She was hired by Wal-Mart to make it more competitive against emerging usptarts like Target.
Roehm was different, at least for Bentonville and Wal-Mart.  She had to be to turn around its prosaic branding.  It was an outsized Lee Iacocca who turned around the staid Chrysler in the early 1980s.  It is the idiosyncratic Nassim Taleb who’s turning around business assumptions [See “The Black Swan.”]
But unlike Iacocca and Taleb, she was different and a woman.  That was going to be too much for the rigid organizational culture at Wal-Mart to absorb.  It wound up vomiting it all up.  In the July 2009 edition of FAST COMPANY, Danielle Sacks narrates that mess.
One aspect of the tale is gender politics.  That was supposed to have vanished when “they” gave women control over our bodies, “let” us into Yale and made us [e.g. Laura Ellsworth at Jones Day] a managing partner at a white-shoe law firm.  Obviously, though, it didn’t, at least not in Bentonville.
Mamas, don’t let your daughters go to places like Bentonville.  Have them do their due diligence on how women executives comport themselves.  If the women are self-conscious, fearful, too grateful to be where they are – instead of delivering dazzling performance – tell them to look elsewhere.
There are wonderful workplaces for women.  Think the White House, Avon around the world, Xerox, Hillary Clinton’s staff, and CLEARCorps.

Marketing powerhouse Julie Roehm arrived at Bentonville, Arkansas with the 21st century equivalent of the counterculture flowers-in-her-hair.  She was hired by Wal-Mart to make it more competitive against emerging usptarts like Target.

Roehm was different, at least for Bentonville and Wal-Mart.  She had to be to turn around its prosaic branding.  It was an outsized Lee Iacocca who turned around the staid Chrysler in the early 1980s.  It is the idiosyncratic Nassim Taleb who’s turning around business assumptions [See “The Black Swan.”]

But unlike Iacocca and Taleb, she was different and a woman.  That was going to be too much for the rigid organizational culture at Wal-Mart to absorb.  It wound up vomiting it all up.  In the July 2009 edition of FAST COMPANY, Danielle Sacks narrates that mess.

One aspect of the tale is gender politics.  That was supposed to have vanished when “they” gave women control over our bodies, “let” us into Yale and made us [e.g. Laura Ellsworth at Jones Day] a managing partner at a white-shoe law firm. Obviously, though, it didn’t, at least not in Bentonville.

Mamas, don’t let your daughters go to places like Bentonville.  Have them do their due diligence on how women executives comport themselves.  If the women are self-conscious, fearful, too grateful to be where they are – instead of delivering dazzling performance – tell them to look elsewhere.

There are wonderful workplaces for women.  Think the White House, Avon around the world, Xerox, Hillary Clinton’s staff, and CLEARCorps.

Jane Genova