Sunday, January 4, 2009

And Now A Word From Our Sponsor

It’s the annual football orgy time with NFL playoffs and a seemingly endless stream of bowl games, and this year it represented a chance for the dying auto makers to advertise their way out of bankruptcy with a Fed fueled cash injection paying for the TV spots. Since I was going to be watching most of the games anyway, I decided to use this opportunity to monitor the advertisements more closely than I’d done in the past. Here’s what I found.

GM and Chrysler were, by far, the most prolific sponsors of televised football this year. Every single game that I watched had the play on the field interrupted by AT LEAST a dozen car commercials. Twelve was a minimum. Some games had two or three times that number. Chrysler’s advertising agency, BBDO Detroit, seems to believe that college football audiences are overwhelmingly made up of testosterone-loaded young macho types who dream of piloting Dodge Ram pickup trucks through fiery explosions as they drive like a bat out of hell without pavement under the tires. Maybe BBDO Detroit has the Chrysler customer demographic dialed in to perfection, but I have to believe that these commercials (which look like they’re being filmed in a war zone) have a lot more to do with the fact that Dodge Ram pickup sales are still languishing in the aftermath of $4.00 gas.

GM’s new advertising agency for Cadillac, Modernista!, is trying something rather daring. They are conspicuously tying the GM brand to the various makes and models from Pontiac and Cadillac in addition to Chevrolet. I wouldn’t have believed that there was anyone left in America who didn’t know that Cadillac was a subsidiary of GM, but since Modernista! believes this, here’s my question— is now the time to set the record straight just as GM CEO, Rick Wagoner is fresh from his Congressional fiasco? Wouldn’t it be better to let a prospective buyer for an Escalade think that, since the vehicle has a European sounding name, it must be made by a foreign car maker? This is especially true since GM is touting a 5 year warranty in the new commercials. Good luck with that GM warranty three years from now.

The tragedy is that none— zilch—zero percent of the commercials from GM and Chrysler were for green vehicles that would give fuel efficiency and lower emissions.

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