GM Understands Social Media. Selling SUVs In A Post Peak-Oil Economy Still A Question Mark.

Steve Hall was right.
As part of their ChevyApprentice promotion, GM was prepared to have egg thrown on its face by environmentally conscious (anti-SUV) consumers, and they were even prepared to let the egg stay there all hard and scarring.
How this builds the brand or moves steel, no one knows. At any rate, here’s what Hall said over the weekend:

We think there are some voices inside GM that understand social media very well and knew this would happen. We’re not surprised at all and we’re not surprised they’ve left the negative ads up.

Today, the New York Times confirmed Hall’s suspicions, and even mentioned his thoughts on the matter.

A spokeswoman for Chevrolet, Melisa Tezanos, said the company did not plan to shut down the anti-S.U.V. ads.
“We anticipated that there would be critical submissions,” Ms. Tezanos said. “You do turn over your brand to the public, and we knew that we were going to get some bad with the good. But it’s part of playing in this space.”

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. PR comments made after the fact aren’t the most believable form of communication. Regardless, I’ll take Hall’s word. Still…was this smart marketing?
    The promotion is a pure vanity project for a dying auto segment, a promotion launched during what could well be GM’s lowest point as a company. Instead of addressing these issues and the brand’s relationship with consumers (or the future), this promotion glides along all cotton candy and sunshine. “SUVs are great! Let’s paint the pretty video picture together!”
    If you’re going to “turn your brand over to the public”, why not do so in a way that can produce some good? Address problems. Invite solutions. (There’s no reason you can’t have fun coming up with solutions…it should be entertaining.)
    Have a real conversation with the public. That’s the goal of social media, isn’t it? Don’t ask them to be shills, piecing together tributes to a failing vision of the industry’s future. According to the analysts and every three-bucks-a-gallon pump – the Tahoe ain’t it.

  2. Well said, tmack.
    Here’s some more on the subject from Ben and Jackie:
    My apologies to everyone involved in this effort, but it was strategically flawed at birth. It’s a textbook case of what happens when buzz for the sake of buzz is the primary objective. Here’s why: This campaign was designed to encourage a mass audience to spread messages. It wasn’t designed with loyal and evangelistic Tahoe owners in mind. Heck, even the word “campaign” reflects the impetus of mass advertising and message control.