The Break-up: Facebook & GM

Cam Levack By Cam Levack

Jun 13, 2012


Did General Motors steer clear of Facebook? Or does FB not “like” GM?

General Motors’ recent decision to pull its paid advertising from Facebook was the biggest break-up the marketing world has witnessed in some time. You can’t blame anyone for being surprised.

After all, the social media giant and global carmaker were making out like the queen and king of the prom. General Motors, turning its back on “My father’s Oldsmobile” past with better-built, fuel-efficient models aimed at a younger target group. Facebook, with 900 million users worldwide, savvy and trend-setting. That’s a whack of potential Cruz and Volt buyers.

But sometimes even a marriage made in heaven goes sour.

General Motors claimed its paid Facebook creative had “little impact on consumers” and wanted “big, splashy ads” that would get in people’s faces. Facebook knew those kind of messages are out of synch. Facebook’s VP Carolyn Everson countered by saying that “marketers who don’t get it will refer back to the formats they’ve been used to over the past couple of decades” – in other words, double-page spreads in the Saturday paper, 30-second commercials on network TV.

Can traditional, intrusive ads get a satisfactory ROI in the Facebook environment, asks Econsultancy. Or will they generate apathy, or worse yet, user resentment for both the advertising and the medium – definitely something not to like.

Even the timing was questionable, as GM made its decision to pull out on the eve of Facebook’s change to public status, making it the world’s richest tech IPO. Nothing like breaking up on the night of the prom.

If social media is all about avoiding mass consumption and fostering a unique, customizable user experience, big intrusive GM ads on Facebook had no chance. Not then, not ever.

Too bad, they made a cute couple.

Cam Levack, Raven5 Ltd, Toronto, June 2012

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