There has been, to put it mildly, a bit of volatility of late in the world of automotive advertising. Mazda has fired Doner. Chrysler was dropped by Fallon. GM switched its Cadillac business from BBH to Fallon and its Chevrolet business from Publicis to Goodby. Jeep now resides at Wieden after a short stint at Global Hue and a slightly longer one at Cutwater. And Dodge Trucks is knocking around like a ping-pong ball in a Cuisinart. There are a few others I've neglected. VW is at Deutsch LA and Hyundai appears agency-less. Rumor is Nissan is unhappy with TBWA/C/D.
One precipitant behind all this upheaval is the sorry state of the auto industry. Sales have sunk and when sales sink the easiest recourse is to find a new agency. GM's GM, Joe Ewanick slugged a couple of these moves into action, exhibiting his power by displacing incumbent agencies with newcomers.
My question amid all this roiling is simple. Does any of this make a whit of difference? Goodby will, I suppose, do their usual exemplary and compelling advertising. But anything short of 45-minutes with Heidi Klum will not get me into a Chevy showroom.
The fact is that most people shopping for a car have their minds made up. It's like a presidential election. The democrats and the republicans will each get about 45% of the vote no matter who they nominate. A great deal of the money and shouting goes to swaying a small group--the undecided--one way or another.
Here's a numerical way of looking at it. GM sold just under three-million cars last year and it cost them just under $3 billion of advertising to do it. So they spent $1K in advertising for every unit sold.
Not sure how the greater math adds up. But I do know that my calculations show that moving metal is an expensive proposition.
I wonder what would happen if Detroit just pulled the plug on it all.
I'd still be taking the train to work.