The worst-laid plans of mice and men seem to roughly coincide with GM’s marketing initiatives. You remember last year’s brilliant Oprah stunt with the new Pontiac G6 — and the tax problems and the unavailability of the car at GM’s dealers, right?
Now GM has hitched the Buick Lucerne’s fate to Martha Stewart’s version of The Apprentice. And while you have to admire Martha’s pluck in going directly from jail to hosting her own Trump knockoff (and her own daytime show and Sirius radio channel), you have to feel for GM’s uncanny knack for missing the cultural zeitgeist boat. Stewart’s shows have been ratings sluggards since her release from jail and home confinement — and GM needs anything but lackluster numbers as it promotes the Lucerne, the big new front-driver that’s carrying much of the beleaguered brand’s future on its broad shoulders. With the news that Stewart’s already been denied a second season interning with the Donald, the Lucerne belatedly becomes Martha’s official Apprentice vehicle this week with various promotions leading shoppers to the Buick.com Web site and to a series of “Lucerne VIP Premiere Parties” across the country.
Whether GM needs to spend so much effort planning such huge marketing coups, only to have them overthrown by the unpredictable, is up for debate. This one seems to be headed to the dustbin along with the new Saab campaign we complained about yesterday. But there’s one keen takeaway here, at least: grab a copy of the 20-page guide that Buick and Martha Stewart Living are putting out along with the promotion. Because you’re never too old to learn how to make a cloth napkin into a swan, right?