Sad Timing

March 5, 2009 | blog | By Mike Sullivan

How ironic it is that it appears GM will have to back away from supporting the sequel to the wildly popular 2007 “Transformers” movie featuring a small fleet of its new vehicles, including the all-new 2010 Chevy Camero. And what further irony that the sequel is titled “Revenge of the Fallen.” There will be no revenge for GM. At least not anytime soon, unfortunately. And the company won’t get the opportunity to really cash in on the very clever marketing groundwork it laid as it aimed to become a big-time player in the world of entertainment. Cash-strapped and reaching for government help, this is no time for GM to go big in show biz.

Timing is everything.

When Bob Lutz took over at GM, he truly had a vision for the company. As Daniel Pink recorded in his book, “A Whole New Mind,” Lutz said that his approach to running the company and marketing its new products would differ dramatically from his predecessors.

“It’s more right brain … I see us (GM) being in the art business. Art, entertainment and mobile sculpture, which, coincidentally, also happens in transportation.”

Lutz was really onto something, and the fanfare created for his new products by the original Transformer movie proved it. More than 10,000 Cameros were pre-ordered last fall, and the buzz was incredible. You see, Pink’s thesis is that because we live in a world of abundance with no shortage of excellent choices, true distinction can only be achieved based on right-brained drivers like design, symphony, and story, among others. GM was beginning to accomplish this kind of artful differentiation under Lutz’s leadership. We all know what happened next.

But the show must go on, and “Transformers: The Revenge of the Fallen” will break this July 4th weekend with no promotional fuel from GM. In fact, GM as we know it may not even be around.

Timing is everything.

And what if GM had caught onto this right-brained driven strategy just a little earlier in the game? What if they had put their arms around what Pink calls the “Conceptual Age” as early as the late 90s and had themselves firing on all eight cylinders heading into the new century? They might have reinvented the relationship people have with their cars on a grand scale the way Mini Cooper did on a minor scale. It could have been a different story altogether.

But I suppose we’ll never really know how that story might have ended.

Because timing is everything.


Mike Sullivan

President at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency


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