Behind the Wheel with Phil Lebeau

Lutz Takes Control of GM Ad Image

Robert Lutz, as General Motors vice chairman.

Today in Detroit, GM Vice Chair Bob Lutz is hitting the ground runningin his move to change the image of the auto maker.

Everything is up for review.

From the way GM spends marketing money to the type of ads the company runs, Lutz and his top lieutenants are reviewing it all.

Hopefully they will be sober and critical, before starting to chart a new course for GM's image.

Over the last twenty years, GM has thrown out a hodge-podge of messages to the public.

A few, like the Chevy truck ads featuring John Mellencamp's "My Country", have connected with buyers. But by far, most of what GM has done has failed. Keep in mind, we're not just talking about the ads GM runs, but also the marketing incentive programs and communications from the company.

In my opinion, GM has been too inconsistent and not proactive enough in getting out there. Lutz know this. He's told me on more than one occasion GM has to do a better job of connecting with what buyers want.

So what will he do to get GM on track? I suspect he will do the one thing that has defined his career: he will be bold, straight forward, and honest.

For Lutz, soft-selling won't cut it. Think more along the lines of the Cadillac "break through" ads featuring Led Zeppelin's hit song. That's the type of approach I think Lutz will pursue. And when it comes to marketing incentives, GM will go after a more coherent image. Instead of throwing out a new program with an ill-defined message, look for something more along the lines of the "Keep America Rolling" campaign that came out after 9/11.

One thing is clear, Maximum Bob Lutz won't tip toe into developing a new image for GM. He will move fast, he will be bold, and he will sell it hard.

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