Valuing TV Ad Plans In Light Of Moving Marketing Executives

The success of your product on TV might just depend on the success of your marketing skills. Not always, but sometimes.

Joel Ewanick, chief marketing officer of General Motors, was let go over the weekend. Many factors -- including a specific problem about not vetting a certain European soccer sponsorship – have been cited as the reason, Stateside, one recent point of contention that may stick out could be General Motors’ hardline stance on the U.S. TV upfront marketplace.

GM came into the market wanting -- some would say -- crazy price deductions, as the marketplace pointed to slight price increases. If they didn't get those deductions, well...

We don't know what happened, specifically. Some reports suggest that while GM didn't get double-digit percentage rollbacks in prices, it may have grabbed lower-than-market rate increases. Was that then a negotiation success?



Big media sellers -- especially broadcast TV sellers, in any sort of modestly strong market -- seemingly always have the upper hand. If nothing else, dickering over price by GM and its new media agency Carat could have been a issue. While key inventory is being snapped up -- a major part of the upfront process – the dickering puts any in-the-hunt advertiser, big or small, in a difficult position. 

Does TV work... or does TV hurt the work when you don't have it? GM already backed off buying some big TV events like the Super Bowl and the Oscars in recent years, and apparently looked to continue that approach.

In September 2004, Ian Beavis, then chief marketing executive of Mitsubshi Motors, made a bold statement about not buying ads on  high-priced broadcast networks. In November 2004, Beavis left the company.

What happened? We don't know what exact media plans were put in place. We do know the car company had some very poor sales periods.

Some employment departures are complicated decisions, for sure. After all, Ewanick's upfront TV plans haven't gone into effect yet. (The TV season starts in September). There are always mysteries about why some consumer products can't grab attention and interest even after all the testing and design.

The irony in all this is that not too long ago, Ewanick ran marketing at Hyundai Motors while the company significantly improved its TV exposure with big deals including buys in the Super Bowl. The result? Major sales and brand awareness for the automotive maker.

We all know GM isn't abandoning TV. It just wants what all TV advertisers want: to buy the medium at a much lower cost. But the process of getting there still has people scratching their collective heads.

TV proponents always want to tell you that no matter what shiny new media thing arises, TV still works in a big way. Marketing executives -- even with the continued expansion of digital platforms -- say you can never really go wrong not buying television. So, gas up the tank.


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