What do you do next?
a) Lay low for Christmas and let the next few years take their course, promoting your range of vehicles as normal as you wind down to being a full importer in 4 years from now?
b) Do a TV ad where you rub the closure in and galvanise the ill-feeling towards your 90% mediocre vehicle range?
Guess what GM-Holden did.
That ad campaign has been shown ad nauseum over the last week or so – It was on every 10 or 15 minutes yesterday during the biggest cricket match of the year – and it’s drawn over 1000 or so angry comments on Facebook and elsewhere.
Customers and employees alike don’t accept the “We’re here” line because Holden announced a few weeks ago that they will cease manufacturing in Australia, in 2017.
Customers will be reluctant to accept the whole “we’ll still make the best cars for Australia” line because the cars that GM have shipped to Australia and slapped Holden badges on in the recent past have been absolute crap. Holden’s last best-seller that wasn’t called Commodore was the Astra, which they canned in favour of cheaper cars from Korea and then tried to resurrect by bringing Opel into Australia – a campaign that lasted less than 12 months.
I think GM’s marketing people may have mis-judged (surprise, surprise) the connection between Holden and the Australian public. Many Australians aren’t particularly enamoured with Holden’s product but they have a soft spot for the company based purely on historic association and its identity as an ‘Australian’ company. Nearly everyone has owned a Holden at some stage or has a family member or close friend who has. Most still have an in-built fondness, however residual or historic in nature.
To try and trade on that when you’re axing the one good car you still make for us, however, is Manipulation 101 and people can see through it.
Holden won’t be Australian when it leaves and everyone knows it. It’s barely Australian now and most of the company’s Korean-built range has been canned by one publication or another in the last 5 years. The Viva was a disaster and the Epica was such an epic(a) fail that it lasted only a few years.
Soon, Holden will be just another car brand. In 2017 it’s going to sever the one final connection that made it different from everyone else – its Australian manufacturing base.
As one commenter said:
“It’s like the ‘I still want to be friends’ line after a break up”
Holden just cut us off from the one true redeeming quality it had: It was one of us and we could relate to it. Holden has been drifting for a decade or so and now, it’s going for good.
Time to survive on your merits, Holden.
Time to earn some merits, actually. Judging by the way this ad campaign was rolled out, it’s going to be a long road.
A final note:
If you’re going to shoot an ad that has the potential to really annoy people, at least try to avoid using REALLY CRAP PARKING!!!!!