September 23, 2009
GM's Whitacre no Iacocca, ad world says
When it comes to businessmen as pitchmen, not everybody can be Lee Iacocca, notes The Associated Press in a story Tuesday. General Motors Co. has bet that its new chairman, Ed Whitacre, can successfully kick off its "May the best car win" campaign, which puts the struggling automaker's vehicles up against competitors and hopes to coax reluctant buyers by offering a 60-day money-back guarantee. The advertising world has been abuzz about the ads. Its verdict? Well, he's no Iacocca. Experts say Whitacre, the former CEO and chairman of telecommunications giant AT&T who became GM's chairman in July, has some serious challenges as public face of the company — starting with the fact that not that many people know who he is. Some even say the ad starring the 67-year-old Whitacre hurts the Detroit automaker's efforts to freshen up its image and woo younger buyers. In the ad, which started airing last week, begins a long-awaited overhaul of GM's roughly $2 billion per year in advertising, now that the automaker has emerged from bankruptcy. The company's board, including Whitacre — and even the government's auto task force — recognized that GM was in need of an image makeover. The company needs to attract skeptical customers and improve sales to pay back the billions in aid it received from the government.
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