General Motors Turns Its Attention To 'Next' New Thing

General Motors is following up its "Gas Friendly to Gas Free" campaign with a much broader global effort, "GMNext," intended as a conversation with consumers about the role of the auto in world and the company's own R&D toward keeping cars viable in terms of environmental pressures, and fuels.

Besides talking up GM's R&D, the campaign, which is initially at, will serve as an opinion clearinghouse from others on the viability of personal transportation in a world of shrinking resources and the role of GM in developing markets. It is also part of a 100th anniversary effort for the company, which launched in 1908.

GM Chairman/CEO Rick Wagoner said, in a release, that the company will "Use GMNext to introduce some of our ideas for addressing critical issues concerning energy, the environment and globalization. In the process, we also hope to spark a broader, global discussion on these important topics."

Initially, the GMNext campaign will also highlight GM's iFlex Fuel, plug-in, and two-mode hybrid programs.

The Web site will feature GM news, company positions and commentary, feature opinions and public commentary, including opinions from industry observers outside GM, and from the global media.

The company says that, beginning this month and ending with "GMNext Days," a week-long worldwide event in September, the company will launch a national advertising and marketing effort discussing its first century and talk about plans and products that the company says will define its second century.

Scot Keller, head of GM brand communications, says the new site won't replace GM's two-year-old blogs like GMFastLane, which regularly feature off-the-cuff remarks by top executives.

He says the effort is less to promote products than to humanize GM and talk up the company's leading edge. "The purpose of GMNext is to have two-way dialogue with people around the world about the things that interest them."

He also said the GMNext content, theme and logo will appear in print ads--such as one in trade books this month--dealership exhibits and events. "It's not just a Web site, but a global communications platform, so you will see elements of it in corporate spaces, auto shows, many internal and external communications, and speeches."

The platform will also figure into the Sept. 16 celebration of GM's centennial. "We will be doing a number of things at headquarters [at Detroit's Renaissance Center] and around the world, in broadcast, digital and events. It's a multifaceted campaign," he says.

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