Those of you who read my blog know I’m not a fan of most auto advertising. Even in recent months most of the material coming out of Detroit – in particular – has been trite, disingenuous and ultimately irrelevant (judging by the plummeting sales numbers.) It’s as if they believe they can fool us into ignoring all the bad news, as well as their uneven product, with hype and flash. So I’ve got to hand it GM for taking a stab at a fresh start – both in terms of its business future and its marketing. 

As outlined in this BusinessWeek article, the marketing campaign is refreshingly candid about GM’s troubles and essentially positions GM as a new company…asking for a second chance. Instead of trying to rehabilitate or avoid its recent debacles, the campaign seeks to accept blame and move beyond them. The storyline reads something like…we screwed up very badly, but we learned our lessons and are paying the price. We intend to move forward as a smarter, leaner company that builds products that you want. Really. Complementary campaigns for the surviving GM brands are set to begin in the coming weeks. This report in the NY Times is a good read on the marketing plan.

GM still has some old marketing habits it needs to break – witness the irrelevant patriotic filler in the ads – but this is good progress that will increase the relevance and credibility of the campaign. To its credit, GM is also investing a nice chunk of its marketing budget in social media, and will encourage new GM buyers to share their experiences on Twitter and Facebook. I’ll be watching to see what comments get through…that will be the ultimate test of GMs openness to customer feedback.