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4/8/2005

The Empire Strikes Back - GM Pulls Ads From LA Times

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 9:47 am

In this AM’s Automotive News email wrap up and in the online edition of the Los Angeles Times it was announced that General Motors is suspending ALL advertising in the LA Times over what it calls “factual errors and misrepresentations in the newspaper” according to a company spokesman. AN goes on to say: [Reg. required]

GM did not specify what spurred it to pull its advertising, but the paper’s auto writer Dan Neil on Wednesday published a critical column about the company’s brand strategy and called on GM to “dump” Chairman and Chief Executive Rick Wagoner.

The LA Times response today to yesterday’s pullout by the General includes the following: [Reg. required]

A GM executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Wednesday’s review of the Pontiac G6 by Times Pulitzer Prize-winning automobile critic Dan Neil was particularly offensive.

Neil wrote that “GM is a morass of a business case” and called for the ouster of GM’s chairman and chief executive, Rick Wagoner. Among other things, Neil took the company to task for not more aggressively developing fuel-efficient cars and focusing instead on SUVs.

The Dan Neil critical bombast that appeared in Wednesday’s Highway1 section was certainly biting and hyper critical, especially of the newish Pontiac G6, which Neil describes as:

The G6 is not an awful car. It’s entirely adequate. But plainly, adequate is not nearly enough.
(…)
You want excitement from the “Excitement” division? Try to get this thing to turn in a sharp corner.

Bah.

This is an uncompetitive product, an assertion borne out not by my say-so but by sales numbers.

To be fair to the Pontiac, he has a couple of nice things to say about it, amid a plethora of negativity. To be fair to Dan Neil, on most of the points that he covers, I admit, regretfully, that I agree.

You see, when the G6 appeared at the Detroit Auto Show a few years ago it was a stunner, both inside and out, heralding a Bob Lutz driven rennaisance of design for the Pontiac division. With Bob’s track record at Chrysler for bringing incredible show cars to market with a major part of their mojo intact, I, and many others, were expecting him to do so here. But like the ill-fated first generation Olds Aurora and the current Buick LaCrosse, the G6 just didn’t make it out of the “clinics” with its excitement DNA on board.

Bob seems to be directly answering Dan Neil’s call for his head in the most current post at the Fastlane blog, which posted yesterday:

Some of you may may remember my opening salvo for this blog back in January: “After years of reading and reacting to the automotive press it is finally my turn to put the shoe on the other foot. In the age of the Internet, anyone can be a journalist.”

He goes on to assure his readers that his participation in the GM blogging experiment will definitely continue, and that those in power at the General

hear your words loud and clear. We’re redoubling our efforts to build great cars and trucks and we’ll continue to talk about them, right here.

What’s most interesting are the comments, where over-and-over Fastlane readers are pleading with GM to build world-class vehicles so that they can justify buying American, again . . . or still! This writer heartily agrees with that sentiment. I’ve been car shopping for several months now, and the only vehicle in the GM inventory that does anything for me is the Cadillac CTS-"V", which I simply cannot afford. The last two vehicles I’ve leased have been a supercharged Buick Regal GS and a supercharged Pontiac Bonneville SSEI, and both are discontinued, the Regal gone as of the ‘05 model year and the Bonne is gone as of this summer. Maybe I’ll just buy-out the Bonne off lease and sit tight for a few years while/if the company gets itself sorted out. The only Ford product that has any interest for me is the new Mustang (too small for our needs) and Chrysler is a German company, not a domestic any more.

Tom at The True Talk Blog also weighs in on the issue:

Is blogging going to save GM? Nah. But Bob Lutz is showing he’s going to do everything possible to do so, even if it means doing something stupid like blogging.

Swade at Trollhattan blog seconds the emotion:

If you haven’t been tuning in, Bob’s blog is a great forum for not only hearing him address some issues that get twisted in the press a little, but it’s also a great place to read comments from GM customers. People just like you and me.

And Neville Hobson at NevOn blog discusses the effectiveness of Fastlane as a communication tool for the General:

GM made it pretty clear from the outset that the primary purpose of the blog is to engage with customers and car enthusiasts about one topic - GM’s cars. And they have stuck to that goal. Judging from the many comments to every post, that’s what visitors want to talk to GM about. Indeed, just about the only comments that aren’t about the subject matter of a particular post are those by communicators commenting about the blog or the podcasts.

Ok Bob, if you are actually in charge of product worldwide for GM and haven’t just been given a sideways promotion into obscurity, go out there and kick ass, take names, and get the job done! With the resources and depth of talent that GM has at its disposal combined with a corporate commitment to world class products at all price levels, there is no reason that General Motors cannot survive and thrive. Just look within at your Cadillac division. Ten years ago, who would have ever thought a Caddy would again be cool . . . fast . . . and desirable?

BTG Motoring, for all your car, truck or SUV parts and accessories

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