Monday, June 11, 2007

Wouldn't you really rather have a Nothing?

I'm seeing a lot of new work lately for Buick. So let me start with a scenario:

It's 11:30 at night, you're home, your shoes are off, you're not going out again. All of a sudden a TV commercial comes on. It promises you a free Buick (the only catch is you can't sell it) if you come down to the Buick dealer in the next 45 minutes. Here's my question, would you get dressed and hop in a cab for a free Buick?

I for one would not. That's how tarnished the brand is in my mind. I don't think I'm alone in that assessment either. And you want to know something? Tiger Woods, Buick's spokes-shill or some long-copy blather about their new cross-over ain't going to do it either. Because the fundamental relationship between Buick and its dealers and the car buying public is broken. People simply don't believe they will be treated well by the dealer. They don't believe that the manufacturer is honest. They don't believe in the product. If there used to be an unwritten social contract between the car company and the car buyer, that's gone. Too many years of over-promise and under-delivery have killed it.

How you repair this? I think Ford started on the right path with a site that was meant to take you inside the company. Witness its mea culpas and its solutions. However, the PR around that site was short lived and canceled out by stupid advertising that showed, for instance, a car riding on a wall on two wheels. That was supposed to represent the edge for a car they called the Edge.

No, I think car companies (and their agencies) must do something radically different to replace the trust they spent so many billions destroying. A better spot, a better spokesperson and better technique is just bullshit. We've spent years lying. We'll have to spend years repairing.

1 comment:

Tore Claesson said...

this is so true.
people always fear that they are being ripped off in one way or another when they go to a car dealer.
i think that is partly why leasing is so big. At least you know what it costs.
Saturn tried to be different and was succesful for a while.
then they got greedy and soon became just like the others.