Wednesday, February 13, 2008

GM Just Doesn't Get It

D here - I chuckled this morning at the contrast between the two following articles:

Man's '91 pickup passes the 1M-mile mark

GM Posts Biggest Annual US Auto Loss

Part of the reason I chuckled is that it reminded me of Married With Children episode 817, in which Al Bundy - that lovable loser - stands to win a brand new Dodge Viper if the company can be there to make a big PR story by witnessing him roll his old Dodge over the million mile mark.

As soon as I read about this Wisconsin fellow taking his Chevy Silverado over the mark, I remembered poor Al failing and not winning his new car. I was curious what GM would do with this real life dream situation (surely it's not often that someone keeps a vehicle in roadworthy condition long enough to do this...?) Yes, there was somewhat of a media countdown when the fellow had but 1,200 miles to go; media crews were buzzing as he closed in, and GM had PR people on hand when he finally did it...and then the last line in the article says that the vehicle "could" (not "woud"?) be headed back to the manufacturer, as there is "some interest" in it.


They had the countdown, they had a PR crew on hand, why not be prepared to make some kind of presentation on the spot, live? Why wasn't he presented with a brand new 2008 Chevy Silverado in exchange for his historic old one?

The answer appears to be - they just don't get it. No wonder they are losing so much money.

Is it rational to fear that "if we give him a free new truck, we'll have to give away a free truck to everyone who hits a million miles"? How often does this happen?

Different departments of any car company make a number of vehicles for crash tests, government standards testing, marketing, sales, promotions, journalist loaners for reviews, fleets, special interest vehicles, sponsorships...why couldn't such a promotion just count the cost of the freebie vehicle in the already-existing promotional budget?

In today's climate of "domestics are losing money/market share/respect/loyalty/whatever", this would have been a great feel-good story that brings a lot of attention to Chevy's potential reliability and value - they'll spend money on fictitious commercials, why not be nimble, seize the moment and highlight this slice of reality for a lot cheaper?

Funny thing is, the Married with Children episode first aired in 1994, and Al, a Chicagoan, found himself in Wisconsin not infrequently (to buy his favourite cheese; to buy undergarments for Peg...), That this real story should happen in Wisconsin is doubly ironic (yeah, a bit of a stretch, but I'm sure you get my drift), and Al gave them almost 15 years to prepare not to be taken by surprise if anyone actually got to this point.

This fellow did, and they missed it.

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