General Motors (GM)

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A click-through the difficult to navigate General Motors (GM) web site clearly points to an identity crisis. We see an attempt to reposition the gas-guzzling Hummer (with narration by “Govenator” Arnold Schwarzenegger) as a hydrogen-fueled environment-friendly vehicle on the one hand (as a prototype that GM states will never be produced), but a focus on E85 ethanol-based fuel to help reduce America’s “addiction to oil” on the other. In fact, GM’s ratio of fuel-hungry SUVs and muscle-cars to more fuel-efficient automobiles is greater than two-to-one. With gasoline prices rising to record levels and an out-dated product line, it is no wonder GM will soon file for bankruptcy.

There is also a striking contrast in GM’s awareness of the current seller-to-buyer marketing communications environment versus that of companies like BMW and Porche. The multimedia advertising by GM is both often very well-hidden within its many seemingly disparate sites and also bears the appearances of design by high-school interns instead of professional advertising agencies. The majority of GM’s online ads present [often static] visual images of their products, but without any sound. In other words, they are not very engaging.

Even exterior and interior views of GM’s showcase Corvette are shown with Quicktime, but without any background music or voice-over. Boring! However, the multimedia used to present GM’s European-built SAAB may be evidence that GM’s European operations “get” the internet and its power where GM’s American operations do not. Inside the SAAB multimedia presentation you will find sound, TV commercials, and even video of SAAB’s respected and feared jet fighter planes. Also go back and click “Video Tour” (upper left side of page) on the SAAB home page for additional excellent multimedia from SAAB.

But in all fairness to GM, I do appreciate its Live Green, Go Yellow FlexFuel initiative. There you will find the “Stalk Car Race” game, a “video cobcast,” and a couple of GM’s “FlexFuel” vehicle commercials. I also direct you to the GM 2006 Chicago Expo where you will find webcasts, videos, and a link to GM’s Enclave concept car. (Move your cursor to the partial analog gauge on the left side of your screen for a pop-out menu.)

Note: One of the more striking observations as one clicks through the GM web sites is a focus almost more on corn and ethanol than on GM’s car lines! Might this be the mechanism by which it hopes to survive as it attempts to retool its production line to more fuel-efficient vehicles? Well, I do not think that will work. GM will be bankrupt before this year’s corn crop is harvested in the fall of 2006.

Requirements: Flash, Quicktime

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