Chevy Leaves Negative Tahoe Ads Up On 'Chevy Apprentice' Site

chevy_cgm_apprentice.jpg

After viewing all the humorous, consumer-created SUV-bashing Tahoe ads born out of the Chevy Apprentice make-your-own ad promotion and reading some think GM is making a mistake with this, we thought we'd share out opinion that, lame as this might have been seen at first, it is, if left unedited, one of the better consumer-created marketing promotions. We think there are some voices inside GM that understand social media very well and knew this would happen. We're not surprised at all and we're not surprised they've left the negative ads up. If all we saw on that site were glowing praises of the vehicle, the promotion would simply be seen as just another lame attempt at capitalizing on a trend and a giant corporation trying to thrust it's twisted version of reality upon us.

It may, in fact, be lame as a concept but by leaving the negative ads up, one truly hopes advisers to Chevy are telling them this is what it's all about and if you kill it, you'll just be labeled another boring automotive advertiser. Negative things will always be said about a brand. Understanding and accepting opposing views does far more for a brand's mojo than killing off divergent opinion. Let's hope this is what's happening at Chevy and not that the ads are still up because it's the weekend and big companies don't work weekends.

See more of the videos here.

Written by Steve Hall    Comments (10)     File: Brands, Consumer Created, Good, Online, Promotions, Viral     Apr- 2-06  
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Comments

If leaving this consumer spot up is respect for opposing viewpoints, I give GM an "A" for open-mindedness. A surprising gesture in the corporate world.

Still, how is this smart marketing? It not only places front-and-center the negatives that have helped decimate GM sales, but also gives corporate-sponsored credence to them. No matter your respect for a brand, the showroom doors close when people believe its products are bad.

It's only one man's opinion, but labeling this is a successful marketing promotion is akin to willingly reopening a wound, exhibiting how deep the infection goes, then proclaiming it successful cosmetic surgery.

Posted by: tmack on April 2, 2006 01:58 PM

I don't think the promotion itself is a mistake, just that they might be better off moderating these entries before they go live.

Imagine if you were the Tahoe brand manager and had to explain how social media works to the higher ups. What would you say?

"Gentlemen, these repeated slams are actually good for us. They show we understand new media and that we're brave, bold adventurers. Trust me, we'll sell more vehicles this way."

Unless the word really did change overnight and no one told me, I believe the brand manager in question would be laughed--if not dragged--from the room.

Posted by: David Burn on April 2, 2006 03:31 PM

I believe we agree there's value in social media. My question is whether brands understand how and when it's best used.

Any marketing effort - new school or old - requires planning and an appreciation for timing. For instance, if you're willing to invite critcism, it's best to have answers for your critics already in hand - in GM's case, new technologies and models that address pollution and fuel consumption. Yet there's no link to any such thing. It's simply a vainglorious vanity project for an anemic SUV market.

If GM brand managers want to be bold adventurers, why not host a discussion on what tomorrow's GM could and should be? Ask consumers to construct future automobiles. This would show a true appreciation of the issues ahead - and exhibit a good understanding of how social media can benefit a brand that's in trouble.

Posted by: tmack on April 2, 2006 05:13 PM

I used to work in marketing in GM, (took a buyout when my position went away), and I have a feeling that with all the head count reduction, there's nobody left who has the time to moderate these postings. Big corporations seem to think that people aren't needed to get work done, (or that you can double up workload and expect everything to get done). What Wall Street wants is what Wall Street gets. It's all about the short term.

I think leaving some negative ones is fine, but there is a series of commercials that seem to be from the same person that are all negative with the same message.

Posted by: Atul on April 2, 2006 05:28 PM

We were having some fun over the weekend with this, too:

http://www.chevyapprentice.com/view.php?country=us&uniqueid=5ce16032-13d4-1029-98eb-0013724ff5a7

Posted by: Christopher Carfi on April 3, 2006 01:24 AM

I don't understand how otherwise rational people look at this campaign as a positive. It would be like letting people create print ads for McDonalds, and publishing all of the ads that talk about cholesterol, fat, calories, carbohydrates and fat kids. And then patting themselves on the back for letting people "speak their mind" and for "understanding social networking." This campaign can only damage the brand by reinforcing the negatives. Isn't this marketing 101? The best GM can hope for is to convince all of the people who already hate the product that GM is a cool company with products they hate.

I just don't get it.

Posted by: carl on April 3, 2006 10:41 AM

Not all the negative ones were left up, like this one:

http://tinyurl.com/mwcrn

Archived here:

http://www.consumerist.com/consumer/top/consumermade-ad-mocks-chevy-164318.php

Tech glitch or was it too scathing a satire? We know not.

Posted by: Ben Popken on April 4, 2006 10:14 AM

Hey Carl, with regards to your McDonalds reference, it's more like McD's proclaiming in a print ad that they are planning on listening to the people that comprise (at least some of)their market and getting rid of transfat used in frying. Makes them look more like they're listening to you/us/them... even if they're not planning/designing/listening/changing anything for another year or two or five.

Posted by: mordacious on April 4, 2006 01:29 PM

I think that we need to keep in mind that the people who are making these commercials are not mocking Chevy - they are mocking the world of SUV's that we live in. If Ford or Dodge or Toyota had the same contest then I think there would be the same results. I guess for me it is the grand ol' "Freedom of Speech."

Posted by: Meredith on April 22, 2006 07:39 AM

I don't think the promotion itself is a mistake, just that they might be better off moderating these entries before they go live.

Imagine if you were the Tahoe brand manager and had to explain how social media works to the higher ups. What would you say?

"Gentlemen, these repeated slams are actually good for us. They show we understand new media and that we're brave, bold adventurers. Trust me, we'll sell more vehicles this way."

Posted by: TV PELA INTERT on December 22, 2006 05:15 PM

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