The Chevy Volt isn’t selling. It’s not because it looks boring. It’s not because of a battery fire incident. Perhaps it’s because of some political maneuvering. But most likely, it’s GM’s unbelievably confusing and intentionally anti-persuasive advertising.
This isn’t about whether the car is green or not. I’m speaking purely from frustration over what I believe is an advertising campaign designed to cripple the sale of a product. I’m not suggesting the Chevy Volt ads are weak. I’m not suggesting they were put together by someone who didn’t know what they were doing. I’m suggesting that the creative direction that was given to their ads was meant to do two things:
- Convince the public, shareholders (which, post-bailout, also include the American public) and government officials that GM is indeed trying to promote the Chevy Volt
- Hobble sales through confusing advertising that does not effectively persuade a consumer to purchase a Chevy Volt, much the same way a political party will muddy the water on an issue until people tune out
Yesterday, the Detroit News reported that GM sold about 7,700 Volts last year, far below their target of 10,000. During the bailout process, GM had originally told congress and the American public they expected to sell a whopping 45,000 this year — but now they are gearing down production to match the (supposed) lagging demand.
Meanwhile, last year Nissan sold about 9,700 of their all-electric Leafs. They expect that number to double this year, perhaps in part because of their competent advertising campaign.
Maybe it’s because some decision-makers at GM didn’t ever really want to build the Volt. What would make me think that? Well, their latest ad would. In this likely expensive spot, a manufacturing line somberly proceeds through a worn-down Detroit community more like a funeral procession than a parade of hope and change.
It’s grimly titled, this isn’t just the car we wanted to build, it’s the car we had to build.
Before it was built, in 2008 the Chevy Volt was sold to the American public as the savior for GM. We bailed GM out in part because we were told they could build a vehicle for the future — one that will have high demand, help lessen impact on the environment and decrease our dependency on foreign oil.
GM’s other ad features a befuddled Chevy Volt onwer taking a potty break at a gas station and being harassed about his purchase by a loudmouth kid and his even more abrasive father.
…and, in this upcoming weekend’s pre-released 2012 Super Bowl spot, some poorly rendered CGI aliens also harass a Chevy owner. At least the spot isn’t depressing.
So why does GM want the Chevy Volt to fail? I don’t know, but this 1996 nuclear holocaust-inspired ad for the now defunct EV-1 suggests a deep level of internal conflict over the existence of an electric car.