GM is running a new advertising campaign in which it reveals something impressive about one of its vehicles–such as the fact that its hybrid Escalade gets better highway mileage than a Mini Cooper. I’d prefer that they find a way to pat themselves on the back without taking a shot at another brand. But the main issue I have with the ad is how the commercials end: “From GM. Surprised?”
I have two problems with this. First, it’s the advertising equivalent of following the punchline of a joke with, “Get it?” After all, Apple doesn’t end iPod commercials with, “Isn’t this just the coolest?” The ad is cool; no confirmation is required. If what GM’s ad revealed is truly surprising, they shouldn’t have to ask for reassurance. Second, asking “Suprised?” indicates that GM thinks their image is so bad that they have nothing to lose by acknowledging that the audience has a low opinion of their vehicles. As a result, I didn’t just hear “Surprised?” I heard, “Surprised? Seriously, can you believe it? We finally did something right! We actually made a vehicle that gets reasonable mileage! Who saw that coming?!?!”
In fairness to GM, I loved their Cadillac CTS ad campaign and its beautifully (literally) delivered line, “When you turn your car on, does it return the favor?”, and their years-long campaign featuring Led Zepellin’s classic “Rock and Roll” was very well done. Those campaigns reeked of confidence and had the look of a leader. They significantly bolstered and effectively contemporized the Cadillac brand. Their current campaign, however, reeks of insecurity. Given the state of GM’s stock price–and the fact that their CEO couldn’t anticipate that the public might not approve of him taking the corporate jet to Washington to bail him out of his problems–I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.