General Motors, a long time Super Bowl advertiser, decided earlier this year not to advertise during the big game in 2009.
On the surface this seems like a reasonable decision; the Super Bowl is expensive and people aren’t buying many cars right now anyway. And, with the company getting government support, a big investment in Super Bowl advertising would look bad.
I think GM is making a huge mistake.
The core problem facing GM is that people don’t want to buy its cars. This has long been the problem; the company has steadily been losing market share as people turn to other brands. Cost issues are a problem, of course, but mainly because people won’t pay a premium for GM cars. GM’s high costs wouldn’t be a problem if the result was a superior quality product that people really wanted and would pay more for.
GM’s woes have deepened in recent weeks because people are worried the company won’t survive. Buying a car from a defunct company doesn’t seem like a great idea; trade-in values would be low and service would be expensive and difficult.
What GM really needs, now, is to get people to buy its cars. And the only way GM will get people to buy its cars is to give them a reason to buy. Simply put, GM needs to explain to people why this is a great time to buy a car.
More importantly, GM has to project confidence. The company has to be confident in its products and confident in its future.
The best way to project confidence and get the company moving is to invest in the Super Bowl and portray GM as a refocused, determined, confident company.
Walking away from the Super Bowl in 2009 sends precisely the wrong message.
My advice to GM: get in the game.
- Tim Calkins