Chevy Runs Deep into Marketing Trouble

By Larry Teren

General Motors tolerance for being patient for the success of Chevy marketing campaigns does not run deep. Earlier this week, General Motors fired its chief marketing person, Joel Ewanick, for failing “to meet the expectations the company has of its employees.”

Mr. Ewanick a year or so ago came up with the advertising slogan “Chevy Runs Deep”. Apparently consumers did not catch on to its ambiguous meaning. This reminds me of the time many years ago when General Motors could not understand why the Chevy Nova was not selling in Mexico and other parts south of the border. That is, until it took for a Spanish speaking person to explain to a General Motors corporate honcho that nova, or “no va” in Spanish means “doesn’t come or go”. The Mexicans thought it was a joke to own a Chevy Nova, a car that doesn’t go. I’m guessing that today a lot of truck owners have an image of a truck not being able to get out of a muddy or snowy pile while the tires dig deeper into the mire.     Continue reading “Chevy Runs Deep into Marketing Trouble”

Sharing is For Losers?

Apparently sharing is for losers. Let me explain. Marriott Corporation acknowledges that they took a big hit in corporate-wide profits to the tune of 179 million dollars for this past third quarter of 2011. This compares to 83 million the previous year at this time. The brunt of the loss is due to their timeshare division. The funny thing about it is that they still consider it a positive piece of the pie, so much so that they are rolling off their timeshare division into a separate division.

A Marriott spokesperson says that timesharing is a good thing to be in. If you don’t know what it is all about, I’ll explain, otherwise skip the next couple of paragraphs (yipes!): Marriott owns a lot of resort property in, well- resort areas. The type of locations you head to when you expect a snow blizzard to hit your town in the next four or five days. Let’s say you want to make a habit out of going to resort areas each and every year. It may be too expensive a proposition to purchase a second home as a vacation site, especially if you intend to use it only a handful of weeks a year.

Time-share operators come to the rescue. They sell you a time slot to use a two or three or whatever room suite for the number of weeks you wish on specific days in the calendar. But you have to commit to them. Even if you skip a given slotted period, you have to cough up the dough. Some operators who have resorts all over the place let you swap with other users during your coincidental slotted time if both parties agree. Others purposely let you choose a different location each time. You are just committing to advance booking and agreement to pay whether you go or not.

This all sounds good if your business is doing well or your job is secure. However, this past few years with a not-so-good economy, many people have cut down on doing time sharing. After all, if they cannot pay for the mortgage on their primary residence, how can they even think of taking a vacation?

But that’s neither here nor there. The big thing is how we are now at the point where we can discuss a ridiculously large figure such as 179 million in the same sentence with the word ‘loss’ and the company under discussion does not flinch. If I read correctly, Marriott’s acknowledges doling out in shares and dividends to stockholders over 1.4 billion dollars!

I mentioned the other day to my nephew how in 1978 I was proud of myself because I had a gross weekly income of 80 dollars three and a half years out of college. In 1982, the number jumped to more than 400 dollars a week. My 27 year old nephew was not impressed. He said that the five hundredfold increase was no big deal because of the major bout of inflation in the very early 80’s just as Ronald Reagan was taking office. Here I am getting a lesson in economics from a kid who would not be born until a couple of years after 1982 and he was schooling me on the impact of how much money I had to spend compared to previous years.

In 1976, while making that 80 smackers a week less taxes, I went out and bought an AMC Hornet automobile. Go ask your grandfather about that car. Every time it rained or the car rolled over a deep puddle, I had to wait until the wires dried out under the hood so that the engine would start after coming to an idle position. It cost me $3600 and I didn’t need a co-signer on the three year loan. Not bad for a 24 year old punk. I’m sure the guy who sold me the car at the dealership was laughing for three weeks after that deal.

In 1981, I bought an Oldsmobile (remember that line of cars? No? Go ask your grandfather again.) Omega, with its front-wheel drive, digital dashboard, air-conditioning and rear-defroster. I don’t remember what I paid for it but I can assure you that it was not five or even 3 times as much as the Hornet. So, please go tell my nephew that inflation did not affect me as much as he thinks it should have.

That is part of the problem with making any money in today’s economy so that we can go out and buy into those time-share deals and give Marriott a chance to show profit for a change. There is no inflation – or at least that’s what they want you to think- so they have an official excuse to keep the interest rates to practically nothing. When we had that crazy inflation in the early 1980’s, we were getting close to 10% interest on many money market accounts. But, the Feds don’t want us to share and share alike.

I stay at relatives when I go on vacation anyway.

Bottom Line

I’m a bottom line guy. I say that because it is one of my favorite expressions. I like to cut to the chase and get to the core of the issue. I like saying it so much that I can use that expression several times in a five minute conversation, which makes you wonder what really is the bottom line. It’s like digging deeper and deeper until you think you finally hit China. My luck, there would be a Chinese man standing upside down holding a shovel with a dumbstruck look on his face saying something in a sing-song like fashion along with the word “America”.

I use the “bottom line” tactic in a negotiating stance. The last time I bought a brand new car was nine years ago which makes me due for another one in a few more years, right? At the time, I went to the dealership loaded with ammunition convinced I wasn’t going to be taken for a sucker. After all, I had done all the necessary research on the Internet and had a good feel for what the exact car I was interested in should cost. Or at least I thought I did.

Like the coach who prepares his own team for a basketball playoff game by figuring which players are going to start on the opposition, I was mentally ready to shake hands with a tall fellow with greased back hair and a somewhat loud sport coat and a patronizing attitude. But, no! Instead, a short kid- okay he was maybe 25, but that’s a kid to me- approaches and shakes my hand and before you know it goes into a sob story about how he is in the military reserve and is waiting for his notice to be sent to Iraq.

“Bottom line- how much is this baby going to cost when you add in all the extras?” I asked “Uh, there are not extras. That’s the price”, he replied. “You wanna take it for a spin?”
Continue reading “Bottom Line”