Monthly Archives: April 2009

General Motors Rally Cap Commercial is out of touch with America

Has anyone seen the latest commercial from General Motors?  It’s difficult to see but they use the “rally cap” as their metaphor for the ad. If you’re not familiar with the rally cap, it’s a baseball superstition that started, I’m guessing, back in the 80’s. If your team was behind in the last inning, the fans would turn their baseball caps inside out and wear them that way. It showed solidarity among the fans to hopefully give their team a little extra luck to rally back and win the game.

The commercial shows the usual All-American lifestyle vignettes of people out and about but wearing their caps inside-out. The voice over talks about making a big comeback. It talks of new payment protection plans, financing, and warranties. The thing that I wonder when I watch this is who are they trying to rally: the consumer or themselves? Are they saying that we are about to lose the game (and declare bankruptcy) unless America rallies and buys their cars? Or, are they trying to tell themselves that they can make this comeback? And do most consumers even know what a rally cap is? Do the offers resonate with the consumer? To me, it sounds more like a threat than a sales pitch.

In this economy, and especially after the bailout, consumers don’t want to see a shiny, high-budget commercial made by out-of-touch executives and a clueless ad agency telling them to “rally”. Do consumers losing jobs and homes really want to see slick pricey cars, surfers on the beach, valet drivers, and Michigan Ave shoppers with their caps on inside out? I think consumers want to see something of substance and change. Not the same old, same old. How about an ad that simply says, “We’re cutting the cost of all our cars by 30%”, or, “Hey, we’re listening and we’re changing the way we do business”, or even, “ Let’s do this together, America.”  I think a little honesty and less pandering would go miles in the hearts of consumers.

In 1984, Lee Iacocca stood in front of the camera in a factory, looked you in the eye, and used straight-talk to explain the products, explain the company goals, and tell consumers what they wanted to hear. It was done low budget and to the point, which resonated well with the audience and was a very successful campaign.

Which do you think works better?

Author: Marc Obregon, President, Accelerator Advertising, Inc.