Tag Archives: GM

“What’ll You Have …?”

14 Dec

pabst blue ribbonRead on to learn the answer to this iconic brand jingle lead-in. 

“The Giants are at the Patriots’ six yard line, Manning hands off to Bradshaw who punches it in for a touchdown as the Giants take the lead…”  Time for a beer and bathroom break, or do the assembled masses remain glued to their seats to be regaled by the much anticipated commercials?

The world’s greatest advertising spectacle, the Super Bowl, is rapidly drawing near.  With the prospect of reaching 100 million+ viewers, some 35 to 40 advertisers will line-up to pay on average $3.7 million for a 30 second TV spot… exclusive of production costs. 

After all, everyone remembers Apple’s “Sledgehammer” spot, Coca Cola’s “Mean Joe Green” commercial and the ever popular Budweiser “Frogs” execution.  Maybe so, but are these and a handful of other examples simply the anomalies from 46 years of Super Bowl advertising?  Let’s face it, the Super Bowl is a time to gather with friends and family to enjoy a few libations and perhaps even to watch a little football. 

As much as Madison Avenue would like to think that the event has evolved to be as much about the commercials as the game, practical experience might suggest otherwise.   Fact check time;  Does anyone remember  Miller Lite’s  “Evil Beaver” spot from the 1998 Super Bowl or the 2nd Story Software “TaxAct”  commercial from 2012?  Thought so.  Just because an advertiser coughs up millions of dollars for a 30 second shot at reaching a fraction of the 100 million+ potential viewers or in creating a pop-culture phenomenon doesn’t mean they are guaranteed that their efforts will succeed.

Legalized gambling.  A reference often used in the context of the ever popular state lottery games, is an apt description of Super Bowl advertising.  The house, in this case the network, certainly wins and sure a few advertisers (gamblers) will let their annual budgets roll on one high profile execution that may even pay off.  If you’re GM with a marketing budget of $4.5 billion or Anheuser-Busch Inbev at $1.5 billion, the risks are minimal.  On the other hand, for some of the smaller advertisers such as Master Lock, McIllhenny Co. or Soda Stream who have braved these proverbial waters the potential consequences of failure are substantially greater.

We all recall the Monday at the office water cooler where everyone is re-living the prior evening’s game, the athletic performances, scoring highlights and yes… the commercials.  The conversation typically starts out with “did you see the one with…” and frequently ends with everyone with trying to recall the advertiser’s name.   To suggest that advertising recall is an unattainable goal would be an overstatement to be sure.  However with a viewing environment marked by sensory overload for a sports and entertainment spectacle such as the Super Bowl, breaking through the clutter is damn challenging.   Diligence and luck certainly play a role in realizing this objective.  In the words of the bard of Avon, William Shakespeare:

“Fortune brings in some boats that are not steered. “

Taking calculated risks is a component of every marketing resource allocation decision, precisely because there are no guarantees and the linear relationship between stimulus and response remains so nebulous.  It is for this reason that advertisers should seek to mitigate the risks associated with the performance of their advertising investments on a year-round basis, once resource allocation decisions have been made.  Unfortunately, too many organizations are willing to “roll the dice” when it comes to assessing contract compliance or vetting performance when it comes to their agency network and third-party vendor relationships.   The irony is that the link between cause and effect is more certain when it comes to contract and performance auditing than it is with any other facet of the advertising investment cycle.

Here’s hoping that you enjoy the 2013 Super Bowl and all of the attendant festivities.  But don’t be surprised when your guests or the bar patrons next to you respond to the question of; “What’ll You Have?” with an answer of Pabst Blue Ribbon as they’re being entertained by the spot with the Clydesdales or taking in the Bud Bowl.  And when the Super Bowl has come and gone and the buzz surrounding this year’s “Top Spots” has faded into memory, take a moment to reflect on how your organization can take the requisite steps to boost its chances for marketing success by embracing a comprehensive accountability initiative.  In the end, you will be glad that you played the odds and didn’t “let it ride.”

Interested in learning more about marketing accountability and how to implement the appropriate controls and transparency? Contact Don Parsons, Principal at Advertising Audit & Risk Management at [email protected] for a complimentary consultation on this topic.




GM Marketing. Bold Moves or a Business Case for Procurement’s Role in Marketing Services?

31 Jul

General Motors and its CMO just parted ways, suddenly and unceremoniously.  The Wall Street Journal, which broke the story, cited sources “familiar with the matter” when suggesting that the CMO had failed to “adequately appraise the financial details of a recent British soccer sponsorship deal.”  Of note, under that multi-year deal, GM will allegedly pay Manchester United up to $600 million over a seven-year period for Chevrolet to become the club’s jersey sponsor, which includes a $100 million “activation” fee.

Without passing judgment on GM, on their recently departed CMO, or on decisions regarding its $4.4 billion global advertising budget, even a casual observer might ask, “What’s up with GM Marketing?”  Prior to appointing Joel Ewanick to head up marketing for the organization in the spring of 2010, GM had gone through three Marketing Chief’s in the prior twelve months.  

In the two years since Mr. Ewanick’s arrival from Nissan, GM’s Marketing Team implemented a number of dramatic changes, including an overhaul of their marketing services agency network.  This included the abrupt termination of Chevrolet’s agency of record Publicis, firing Bartle Bogle Hegarty on the Cadillac account after five short months without a review (they learned of their fate by reading of GM’s move in the press), consolidating global media buying with Aegis’ Carat, and in March of 2012 GM pared their global creative agency network by 70 to 90 shops and awarding the business to a yet to be constructed agency, Commonwealth Detroit. 

Of note, Commonwealth Detroit is the combination of two agencies; Goodby Silverstein & Partners and McCann Erickson from Omnicom Group and IPG respectively and involves recruiting, building and relocating a team of disparate ad professionals from different agency cultures/ backgrounds to the MotorCity to handle GM’s global business.  Certainly a cross-holding company entity is an interesting approach that is historic in both its boldness and scope.  However, the process of nurturing two distinct creative agencies from two separate agency holding companies to share creative responsibilities, revenues and profits is unheralded.  Does anyone remember Dell and Enfatico?  The irony is that Enfatico was created by recruiting top personnel from agency brands all from within the WPP family. 

Any change in agency alignment is challenging.  Change of this magnitude in an organization’s marketing agency network is both difficult and risky.  Often done under the guise of future “expense reduction” the measures used to forecast those savings typically don’t hold water.  The reason being is that they often fail to account for factors ranging from the cost to unwind the incumbent relationships to the impact of new agency learning curves on account assimilation to the risks this can present to the advertiser on the demand generation side of the ledger. 

According to Bloomberg News, GM posted a global sales increase of just over 2.9% during the first half of 2012 while rival Toyota grew 34.0%, putting Toyota on pace to reclaim the global sales lead this year in the wake of last year’s tsunami in Japan.  In the U.S., GM’s sales rose by approximately 4.0%, in a category that grew 15.0%.  According to Autodata Corp, GM’s first-half U.S. market share fell to 18.1 percent from 19.9 percent a year earlier.  What is the value of a share point you ask?  The answer:  $910 million according to IBISWorld’s Car & Automobile Manufacturing market research report in which they forecast the U.S. automotive market will achieve $91 billion in revenue in 2012.

So what are the chances for success?  Time will tell.  We certainly wish GM and their interim CMO well in addressing the challenges associated with the breadth and depth of changes to their agency roster and the attendant impact on marketing strategy development and execution.  Let’s hope that a sense of reason governs their moves going forward and that the change at the CMO level doesn’t usher in another round of changes in their agency network.  The costs are too high and the risks too great.  While it wasn’t that long ago that GM severed ties with its century old agency of record, Campbell-Ewald, it seems like an eternity.  Interested in reading more on this subject?  Check out the coverage in Automotive News.

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