Buzz Off, Big Oil

June 17, 2008
"Dear Oil, We've had this great relationship for many years. We think we will both be a lot happier if we see less of each other."

So goes a new TV spot that General Motors is pulling together, according to a report in the Detroit News. It's not just a reflection of the times, but a big turnaround from the sort of spot that the automaker has traditionally run, with an emphasis on gas-guzzling SUVs and pickups blazing trails in the wilderness or blasting past slower traffic on the highway.

The proposed commercial, produced by the McCann Erickson agency in Birmingham, Michigan, reflects the dramatic shift in GM's marketing strategy as it tries to hone its "green" bona fides and shake a reputation for building eco-unfriendly automobiles.

If and when the "Dear John" ad will run is unclear. GM's corporate marketing director, Katherine Benoit, told the American Advertising Federation the spot would start airing on June 22, but a corporate spokeswoman later said no hard date had been set, and in fact, the ad "may not see the light of day."

Indeed, GM vice president Mark LaNeve seemed to suddenly develop a bit of remorse over the idea of jilting big oil, insisting, "The idea does not in any way take on the oil companies." If anything, he added, "It could be ‘Dear fuel pump,' and, in fact, if we ever produce an ad, that is probably how we will shoot it."

This wouldn't be Detroit's first assault on Big Oil. In April 2006, Jason Vines, then Chrysler's VP of public relations and never one to avoid a fight, attacked the oil companies for their tendency to pay "outlandish" salaries, while "hoarding their bounty by avoiding technologies, policies and legislation that would protect the population and environment and lower fuel costs."

Should GM air the original "Dear John" commercial? We'd love to hear your thoughts.

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