GM Breaks Up With Big Oil

At AAF: Carmaker Unveils Corporate Campaign Addressing High Gas Prices

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ATLANTA ( -- General Motors Corp. is sending a "Dear John" letter to big oil.

Katherine Benoit, corporate marketing director at GM, told attendees at the American Advertising Federation meeting this week the automaker is breaking a corporate campaign this month that addresses the oil-price issue head-on, albeit with a tongue-in-cheek twist.

"Dear Oil," a new TV spot begins. "We've had this great relationship for many years. We think we will both be a lot happier and healthier if we see less of each other." The ad from McCann Erickson, Birmingham, Mich., is slated to make its debut on NBC's "Meet the Press" June 22, Ms. Benoit said.

Environmental messages
A Chevrolet campaign focused on green issues also is about to break, and GM will tout its corporate environmental message as part of its NBC Olympics sponsorship, Ms. Benoit said.

GM has been dialing up advertising for its fuel-efficient models since last year. But Ms. Benoit said the automaker suspended ads for its E85 models, partly due to the availability issue, and is backing options other than corn or other food products to make the 85%-ethanol fuel.

Part of GM's energy and environmental unit will check out and confirm all its green marketing claims, Ms. Benoit said. "You have to make sure that the story you tell plays out."

Common theme
The need to verify green claims was a common theme at AAF. Tim Love, vice chairman of Omnicom Group, said consumers have access to all sorts of information they didn't before and will call out companies whose advertising is wrong.

Advertising Age Publisher Allison Arden said companies need to respond quickly to challenges to their social-marketing claims. She said the country's view of advertising practitioners is just above that of used-car salesmen, making advertising an easy target on Capitol Hill. She also said it's not just brands and companies who need to talk about socially responsible efforts; agencies have to talk about what they are doing too.
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