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Dr. King, Rosa Parks, Katrina and… General Motors? October 30, 2006

Posted by Celso in Advertising, Opinion.
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OK, I guess I wasn’t the only one moved by the latest General Motors ad, featuring a catchy song by John Mellencamp and images of American symbols like Martin Luther King, Vietnam and 9/11. The brand association is just plain awful. As an Ad Age critic mentions in this New York Times article, this type of ad consists of using negative images (like New Orleans under water and the Twin Towers burning) to generate a positive response from consumers. After all, it’s the ultimate goal of any marketer to create an emotional connection with the end consumer but using negative images to do so is not very common.

Honestly, I love the ad content. It’s quite entertaining, touching and for someone not born in the States, it embodies all of the appreciation I feel for America, which has welcomed me and fostered my personal development in this past decade. However, the brand association part goes too far. It could have been some subtle, like saying that GM salutes America or something like that. Instead, by using a slogan like “Our country, our truck. ” GM proves once again that is a desperate company with a shortsighted, shallow marketing strategy, quickly sinking under foreign competitors. Some would even argue that the message behind the ad is simply that “unless you buy the truck, we’ll go under”… just like New Orleans did.

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