I just saw the first ad from the new General Motors “Reinvention” campaign, and I have to admit that I’m surprised–and impressed! (Check it out for yourself: www.youtube.com/results?search_type=&search_query=general+motors+reinvention&aq=.f) Whether it will ultimately prove effective is impossible to say, as the odds are certainly not in GM’s favor. But if the refreshingly candid approach taken by this ad is any indication of the attitude that resides within the halls of this once-great company these days, I’d say their odds of making a successful comeback are greater than I would have thought.
The goal of this extremely well-written ad is to convey that GM gets it–that they realize they need to make big changes, and that they’re determined to get back on track. It begins with one of the most brutally candid lines you’ll ever hear in advertising: “Let’s be completely honest–No company wants to go through this.” The challenge is for GM to admit they need to change without being overly apologetic, as it’s essential that this ad inspire confidence. Upon first viewing, the ad seems to strike the right balance. Rather than simply saying “We messed up,” it takes a subtly-but-significantly different tack by saying that things that made sense in the past do not make sense today. In doing this, GM reminds us that they were once a great company that made smart decisions, which suggests that perhaps they can once again be able to attain that level of greatness and intelligence. In short (althought the ad doesn’t say this), “We’ve done it before and we can do it again.”
There are some other verbal gems in this 60-second ad created by the Deutsch, Los Angeles ad agency, including, “This isn’t about going out of business. It’s about getting down to business. Because the only chapter we’re focused on…is Chapter One.”
As someone who has ranted several times about GM and its advertising during the past few weeks, it’s hard for me to believe that I just wrote the above paragraphs. And it’s clearly naive to think that a 100-year-old company plagued by decades of mismanagement is suddenly on the right track simply because of a well-written new ad campaign. Still, something tells me that the badly-damaged aircraft carrier that is GM is not only going to stop taking on water, but it just might start turning itself around as well. Either way, it’s going to very interesting see what Chapter Two holds.