Bob Lutz’s gigantic job: Unasked for advice for GM’s new advertising arbiter
The news of Bob Lutz’s new job responsibilities was, to use that overused and becoming increasingly trite word — awesome. The shock waves, tremors and angst registered on the advertising Richter scale coast-to-coast within minutes after the announcement.
One could almost see the swarms of e-mails and hordes of phone calls, like helicopters, from every GM advertising agency, media buying service, research firms, agency suppliers, search firm specialists, as well as consultants, creative’s and suit’s circling the GM building hoping, praying, wishing for an opportunity to get face or phone time to plead their case and experience to Bob Lutz.
This as most know, is not a new calling for the septuagenarian auto exec. He’s done this before for BMW. Dave Kiley, in his book Driven described how Lutz choose a new and relative unknown agency, Ammanti and Purvis over agency behemoths’ Ted Bates Agency and Benton & Bowles. The result was perhaps the best corporate tag line ever in the car business, The Ultimate Driving Machine, and advertising that helped drive BMW’s business up and up.
But the problems of BMW then were not the same as GM’s are today. I’ve gotten some favorable and a few nasty e-mails and calls about my recent reviews of GM’s corporate advertising and for that awful La Crosse ad. Based on Lutz’s comments this week, he feels exactly the same but was more restrained in his comments.
It is more than audacious and presumptuous to offer counsel to a man like Lutz, but there are many advertising people, inside and outside the auto industry, who are hoping he succeeds in stopping the ill conceived, misdirected, idiotic image, GM’s and the remaining brand’s advertising has taken in recent years. It’s been horrible!
These ads, no matter the medium, have lacked consistency, credibility or creativity. They have not sold cars, and they certainly have been ignored or laughed at and justifiably so.
There has been a strict reliance on group-think, group-reviews, group-CYA-decisions based on using extensive consumer research to justify crap! Both at GM and their agencies. Hundreds of millions, maybe billions of dollars thrown down a deep dark abyss of gratuitous waste.
My take is simplistic. Don’t allow, please don’t permit the GM corporate culture sycophants, corp-speak-artists, untalented and arrogant individuals to be involved any longer. They are the ones who effed it up in the first place. And the way you start is the way you finish.