Auto News: Lutz Promises Drastic Changes in GM Marketing

Says Focus Needed on Brand Differentiation in Design, Advertising

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DETROIT ( -- General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz says one of the first things he plans to do as the new head of marketing is make "drastic" changes in the "tone and content" of all of GM's advertising, according to Automotive News.

When asked today during a web chat how he could improve GM's advertising and his thoughts on Buick's new TV spot for the Enclave crossover and LaCrosse sedan, Mr. Lutz wrote, "Let me put it this way: That Buick commercial tested very well, which is not the same as saying that it's an effective ad. ... I think you will very quickly see a drastic change in the tone and content of our advertising. And if you don't, it will mean that I have failed."

The Buick spots were done by Topolewski, Ferndale, Mich.

Mr. Lutz, after planning to retire later this year, agreed to take on GM's marketing role Friday when the automaker emerged from 39 days of bankruptcy protection with its most profitable assets.

Rumors about review
There is speculation that GM will put some of its many advertising agencies up for review, but in an interview Friday, GM executives for Chevrolet, Buick and GMC denied their brands' agencies were on the chopping block.

Mr. Lutz says his first priority will be to create the public relations and advertising messages that will "not only break through but actually leave consumers with an enhanced view of each of our brands."

"Easier said than done," he said, "but we must do it."

Standing out through design
Mr. Lutz said that can happen as GM works to increasingly differentiate its vehicles through improved design.

For example, he said, the new Chevrolet Equinox small SUV and the soon-to-be launched GMC Terrain small SUV "don't even look like they were made by the same manufacturer."

Lutz gave some other indications as to how he thinks GM can better define its brands.

"The new Buick design direction, coupled with a soft and luxurious driving experience, is radically different from the more angular and sporty Cadillac design direction," Mr. Lutz wrote. "Marketing also needs to respect brand differences in how we advertise the various brands and to whom."

With that in mind, Mr. Lutz said, he intends to have Cadillac rival German luxury and performance brands such as BMW, while Buick's task is to take on Lexus.

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