Sounds of Inevitability, Redux

By March 31, 2008Uncategorized

Let’s quote some more movies.

In Peter Weir’s terrific film, Master and Commander: The Far Side of The World, the opening scene is a British warship circa 1790 that’s in heavy fog, pursuing an unseen enemy. Nobody’s sure if the enemy’s really there until, far in the distance, the captain sees a faint orange flash. He has about one second to scream out "Down! All hands down!" before a hail of cannon fire reduces the ship to splinters and kills half the crew.

I may have just seen the flash.

In a post on Media Buyer Planet, a website for, duh, media planners, a post on March 19th revealed that General Motors has publicly committed to spend half of its advertising budget to "digital and one-to-one" advertising over the next three years. That alone is interesting.

It’s even more interesting when you consider that GM is the third-largest advertiser in the country, according to Advertising Age. second only to Proctor & Gamble & AT&T. To put that into even more perspective, GM spent 3.296 billion in advertising in 2006. Doing a little primitive math, that works out to about:

  • $9 million a day
  • $376,000 an hour
  • $6,270 a minute
  • Or, about a hundred dollars a second.

This is all happening in a marketing environment where, according to the Wall Street Journal, ad agencies in general are cutting expenses and tightening belts in anticipation of a general ad spending slowdown.

It’s one thing to throw your support behind a new or different marketing model when the rising tide, if you’ll pardon the metaphor, is lifting all boats. It’s quite another when the economy is heading into a recession, when you’re one of the true eight-hundred-pound gorillas of consumer advertising, and when your industry (i.e., the US automotive sector) is taking a real beating. And under such circumstances, for General Motors to openly make a big bet on relationship marketing is a validation, we think, in the automotive marketplace of what we know works in pharma: relationships.

And if you disagree, well, you may want to hit the deck. Something’s coming.