Friday, August 5, 2011

Making it at GM

A funny thing happens when you make products that people want. They're willing to pay for them.

As the New York Times noted, General Motors' earnings were up 89% in the second quarter largely because sticker prices are up about $500 per car and GM is spending $800 less per car in incentives.

Yes, the earthquake and tsunami helped by reducing the production capacity of Toyota and Honda, but in general buying a new car is not a "now" decision. If people really felt if it were worth waiting for their Camry or Accord they would. Apparently, it's not.

This is a far cry from the dark days of the late 1980s when all I had to promote were the Corsica, Baretta, Celebrity and Caprice. But 30 years later, they seem to have figured it out.

Things will get tougher for GM in the third and fourth quarters, but at least they're on the right track: listening to their potential customers, benchmarking their competitors like never before, and producing cars that are actually surprising and delighting both owners and critics.

And as long as they do that, they have a fighting chance.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

An unhappy coincidence

On the heels of yesterday's post comes the news that Bubba Smith passed away.

His play on the field made him feared and famous among football fans. His performance in Miller Lite's campaign made him loved and famous among the rest of the country.

RIP Bubba

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A good question

And one I tackled before.

Ad Age asks, "What's wrong with Miller Lite?"

And while Miller/Coors' CEO blames the weather and the economy, I'd lay this one straight at the feet of DraftFCB. The work they're doing for the brand right now is not just bad. It's historically bad.

Let me get this straight. I don't drink Miller Lite, so I'm not a man. Here's a tip. Insulting the people you want to have drink your product is not a way to create a strong emotional bond.

Taste Greatness? That's all you got? Telling us how great your beer tastes isn't a great idea when we can very easily open a bottle and taste how average it is. Miller Lite isn't a bad beer. It just isn't my beer. At least in the old days "Tastes Great" was qualified by "Less Filling" which managed to make the claim more believable. But that's just a red herring. Taste isn't really even an issue in this category as is proven by the rising sales of Coors Light.

And finally, there isn't one spot in this campaign where the joke is even mildly funny. Who's writing these things, Jay Leno?

Miller can point to all the other factors: weather, the economy, sunspots, Oprah quitting, etc., but there's only one reason fewer and fewer people are drinking their beer...

They don't want to be associated with stupid.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Where ideas go to die

It has long been said that a camel is a horse designed by committee. That does not do justice to the camel, which is incredibly well designed and adapted to its desert environment.

Committees are notoriously bad at creation, invention and judging creative ideas, which should come as no surprise to anyone who's served on a steering, product or marketing committee. Why?

Simple, committees are about consensus, consensus requires compromise and compromise kills truly new and unique ideas.

Facebook didn't capture the imagination of 750 million users as a result of compromise.

Academy awards are not given out for compromise.

J.K. Rowling didn't revitalize an entire industry because she compromised.

Great innovation takes a strong point of view and an iron will. Committees have neither.

That's why nothing great was every created by committee.