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How to provoke reappraisal of your brand.

Time will tell if GM's new corporate campaign featuring CEO Ed Whitacre will work. An advertising columnist recently suggested that "GM out Hyundais Hyundai."

Out Hyundais Hyundai? Really? Hyundai has been on a journey to recast its image for a decade. It's strategy? Bold, bet-the-ranch marketing initiatives:

  • The most comprehensive warranty in the business.
  • A direct appeal to rethink Hyundai, based on fact and accomplishment, not bravado.
  • A buy back program that showed great insight into the real issue facing consumers in the recession (consumers who had jobs but feared not having one later in the year).
  • A risky move into the near luxury sedan market with Genesis.

The result? Year-to-date Hyundai has picked up over a point of market share (source: Automotive News). A Herculean task to be sure. Every GM brand lost share. The proper domestic comparison to Hyundai is Ford, which, like Hyundai, has kept its head down and worked hard to get its quality and design right. Like Hyundai, Ford has also picked up market share this year.

So this begs the question -- where are the facts to support that corporate bravado ("car for car, we win") is fresh or effective?

I have no connection to Hyundai and no axe to grind. I'm simply a fan of smart and brave marketing. (That and about 15 years automotive marketing experience.)