GMC Terrain: Major neighbor to a Mini car

As Mardi Gras is to Lent, my football watching is to the end of the season. I've consumed football during the past few weeks like it's never coming back. Late nights, poor posture for hours on end, emotional highs and lows...these are the consequences to my over-consumption and lack of discipline. They're also the good price I've paid for New Breed material.

GMC Terrain
When you sit glued to the tube, you discover a great deal of content. Like this new GMC commercial that I watched half a dozen times before suddenly appreciating it. It's only 15 seconds long, but in the midst of so many competition-based ads (Mac vs. PC, Howie Long vs. Honda), I find it refreshing. Even neighborly.

Bullying is so 7th grade
"The same impressive highway fuel economy you get in a Mini...." That's what I love about this ad: It makes the GMC Terrain look better by complimenting another automobile. In other words, this same GM brand that employs Howie to drag Honda through the mud doesn't drag Mini through the mud. It respects it. Of course, GMC and Mini aren't right and left shoes, so the closing line about winning seems somewhat irrelevant, but perhaps this commercial offers an example that Howie and Mac and Wendy and shameless others could follow.

It's a high road. It's also a challenging road, requiring brands to know the value they bring to the marketplace, to find security in that knowledge, and to risk (gasp!) making others look good along the way. Football teams do it all the time. They study and plan in order to win, sure, but you'll never hear mature players and coaches trash opponents. Quite the opposite, in fact.

The question is, Would it work? Is a high road possible given current marketing norms? Is it economically feasible? I don't know, but I'd like to see more of this practice in the marketing field.


Marcus Goodyear January 14, 2010 at 8:51 AM  

Interesting idea. The reason this works is that the cars are not in direct competition.

Maybe that is how it works in football too. I'm not sure how many compliments coaches are sending to their opponents *in the midst of a game*

My brother played football in college. He said, the things people say to each other on the field would shock you. It's part of the game. But then the game ends. The direct competition is over, and the talk can be respectful again.

I suspect the same is true here. I doubt an SUV ad could compliment another competitor of the same class SUV. That would be bad business.

Just like it would be bad business for coaches to compliment each other during a game, share their upcoming plays, and try to build the confidence of the opponent they want to squash...

Lots of good thoughts here, Sam!

Now I have to confess that I've yet to watch a single football game this year.

Anne Lang Bundy January 14, 2010 at 11:32 PM  

I'm always delighted by two things:

• Positive attitudes cropping up where they're not expected;

• People who appreciate a positive attitude.

Sam, it's as pleasing to have you point this out as to see GMC take the high road.

Demeaning or deceitful marketing reflects badly on a business, and makes me resistant to the message, even if I might have otherwise considered the product.

Sam Van Eman January 16, 2010 at 10:01 PM  

Marcus, I definitely wouldn't share upcoming plays and I know the trash talking goes on in heated moments of competition, but I'm not convinced that complimenting would be bad business - even between SUVs.

Feel free to push back.

Anne, I also become resistant as a result of negative marketing. And it bugs me the most when I really, really like the product.

Anonymous,  January 17, 2010 at 6:00 PM  

this works for me.
if a company projects their product in a way that they appear to be confident in the product without having to put down the other product, they have already taken a step above the other.
it is a good way to show, if the product really has the edge, show that edge and to administer soft "hardly noticed" under the radar self-elevation of a better product.

a better more fair way of promoting a product over another...if one must do the comparing for the buyer.

Marcus Goodyear January 18, 2010 at 8:24 AM  

Sam, I suppose you could do a sort of strawman compliment with products in direct competition.

So they could say, the Ford Explorer is a great SUV if you don't mind the gas mileage. But the GMC Terrain...

Honestly, though, that seems like really bad advertising. I guess I'm just not smart enough to imagine the kind of ad you're suggesting. I'd love to see an ad like that, then measure it's effect on sales...

Sam Van Eman January 18, 2010 at 9:40 AM  

nAncY said: "soft...self-elevation of a better product." By "soft" do you mean subtle, or gentle/kind? I can see both.

Marcus, I've seen commercials that use such a tactic, and I's bad. Would a more pure, complimentary approach work financially? I'm not sure if the sales for this method have been tracked before. I may need to do some looking around.

Anne Lang Bundy January 18, 2010 at 9:57 AM  

I can see this:

Voiceover: "You want roomy ..."
Image: Ford Explorer interior

VO: "You want tough ..."
Image: Jeep Wrangler 4-wheeling through snow

VO: "You want economical ..."
Image: Honda Howie at gas pump

VO: "Only one SUV will meet your needs ..."
Image: Terrain driving past gas pump where Howie is filling up, shift visual to Terrain roomy interior and end on smiling face of driver, shift to Terrain tires cutting through snow, than back up camera to take in whole Terrain.

What's so hard about that?

Sam Van Eman January 18, 2010 at 10:32 AM  

That's fun, Anne. We'd have to take Howie out since he works for GM, but I like the roomy and tough ideas - they still compliment the competitors while highlighting the full package of the Terrain (if, indeed, the Terrain is the full package).

Anonymous,  January 19, 2010 at 12:47 PM  

"soft...self-elevation of a better product." By "soft" do you mean subtle, or gentle/kind? I can see both.

i can also see both...yet, i am thinking also of gentle/humble soft-spoken/simple...truth. beautifully simple/truthful photography. it would be so dazzling and amazingly refreshing that it would softly lift the minds of the viewer and if it was truthful, it would lift the product in the eyes of the viewer as well.

however, i have seen not one courageous enough to do this. and many are trying to promote a product that can not stand up to this simplicity and honesty.

Sam Van Eman January 19, 2010 at 7:05 PM  

Gentle truth. That's hard to achieve, I think, in competition. Yet I'd like to see more of it.

Keep your eyes open with me, nAncY. (And hurry before I fast from TV for Lent!)

Alison March 1, 2010 at 11:16 PM  

Here is another car commercial that you might like. It may not promote such neighborly content, but it demonstrates creativity and aesthetics. I hope you enjoy.

Sam Van Eman March 4, 2010 at 9:42 AM  

No doubt, Alison! I saw this once before and am glad to see it again. Remarkable, and I love the visual statement at the end that with this vehicle the mountain is not really a mountain at all.

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