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September 2009



I think the world would still love the brash car guy. That picture of Lee Iacoca reminds me of a disco-era Steve Jobs. One of the big 3 american car companies should do an apple - where they focus their car lines, try to figure out a couple of niches, and surprise and delight them every year, and build from there. There aren't that many american cars over here in Europe anymore, but every time i sit in one I'm pleasantly surprised. They're sturdy, comfortable, built for tall people and offer surprising value for money. The problem is that they're just not cool. The only kinds of american cars that hold any sex appeal are pickup trucks and other trucks (for a relatively small crowd) , and vintage cars. The PT Cruiser is the most comfortable car I've ever sat in but it's a laughing stock, a symbol of how out of touch the US car industry is.
I think that the american car industry is still rife with innovation, like apple six months before jobs came back. The problem is probably more with organization and presentation. But that can be fixed, if you find the right leader/s.

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Yaacov Weiss

"Money back guaranteed” doesn't convey desperation above and beyond anything we already know about GM. GM is in a desperate situation brand-wise and everyone knows it. Not that they’re going bankrupt- the government bailed them out; just that they stand for nothing and have little to no brand appeal. Someone who purchases a GM vehicle, obviously doesn’t care about GM’s poor image, they moved beyond that. They are the types that are likely to read “Consumers Report” and make more logical car buying decisions rather than emotional ones. Nuts and bolts type advertising appeals well to this segment and items like "OnStar" and “money back guaranteed” helps them feel secure in their decision to drive a GM vehicle. It gives GM 1-up in comparison shopping. It also allows people a prolonged test drive, thinking they can return it if they're not happy.
Your take on this Ed Whitacre Jr guy vs. Lee Iacocca is right on. GM seems so unfocused and out of touch, it’s remarkable.

Pete Franklin

You couldn't be more wrong.

Spoken like a guy that has never in his life had real P&L responsibility. It's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback when you don't have any of your own money on the line.

And all the sycophantic agreement is a testament to how much your industry has it's collective head up it's a**.


But how about those guys selling e-books online? They always offer money-back guarantee because they said they are so sure that their e-book is good stuff, we won't be asking for our money back. Seems to work for them. Or could that just be my own perception because from where I come from, Singapore, I don't see that many money-back guarantees around, so it did seem more reassuring.

Erik Johnson

Great post. Having the media tell your story for you in a way that conveys your positioning is the ultimate!


So right Martin. As a girl that used to go to bars to look for guys, I remember. But as you say, it also applies to so much more. Stuff on sale is never believed to be as good as the stuff at full price. People might buy it but they don't think it is as valuable.

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Hey Laura, I just stopped at your very first sentence because it's a good one. Why is it the harder yoiu try the less love you receive? Because when you try that hard you come off as desperate. This is an old sales adage. For example, I walk into a bar with my friends. We are surrounded by 100 girls and all we do is stare at them all night. Every one of those girls is going to think we are creeps. However, if we walk into that bar, have a good time and completely ignore the fact that we are surrounded by 100 women some of those women are going to find us interesting. Now "The Law of Averages" can go to work for you. That means that out of 100 girls 10 are going to find us interesting, 8 will dance with us and 1-3 will be interested in continuing a relationship. 1-3 out of 10 ain't bad. Of people in that target audience 1-3 girls represent a 10 - 30 share of the market and those numbers will make just about anyone successful in their business. Another way of looking at this is to ask, "how successful are most people at turning "nos" into "yeses"?" The answer is "not many". GM is trying too hard to impress the girls and turn those nos into yeses. Mind if I talk about this on MADISON AVENUE? I've got to get readers linked back to your post! Thanks Laura! Now back to finish the resy of your post... ... ... ... ... right on. I couldn't (well, I can) agree with you more.

BIG Kahuna

I had a different take on it, but I agree it's not good: http://www.brandidentityguru.com/wordpress/2009/09/13/gm-offers-full-refund/


Excellent explanation!

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