Tag Archives: General Motors

Spoofs of GM’s new “Reinvention” commercial

I merely critiqued the commercial. Others have gone further.

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The Manic Mommies — now “trying to do it all” with Saturn

I’ve written before on this blog about the partnership between Saturn cars and the amazing Manic Mommies — Erin Kane and Kristin Brandt, two moms “trying to do it all, and then some…” according to the lead-in to their entertaining weekly podcast about the triumphs and tribulations of motherhood, family and career.

The Manic Mommies -- Erin Kane and Kristin Brandt

The Manic Mommies -- Erin Kane and Kristin Brandt

That cooperation has now moved up a notch.  In the past, Saturn’s involvement has been in support of specific Manic Mommy events.  But in a recent podcast, Erin and Kristin announced a new deal with Saturn involving an ongoing year-long sponsorship of the blog and podcast.

What especially struck me about this what not so much the deal itself, but the refreshingly open and transparent way Erin and Kristin informed their audience about it.

I’m not a mom, I’m not even a dad, except perhaps to my parrot Emil, who does indeed have the intelligence and temperament of a 2-year old.  Perhaps that qualifies me somewhat as a rightful Manic Mommy listener.  (I can certainly relate to leading a manic life.)  But since I work on the Pampers brand at Saatchi & Saatchi, and like to stay in touch with what’s on the minds of moms, and as I am also interested in social media, the Manic Mommies are a natural for me.  So as a loyal listener to the podcast, I also appreciated the way Erin and Kristin informed me and the rest of their loyal fans about their new relationship with Saturn.

Jill Lajdziak of Saturn

Jill Lajdziak of Saturn

The centerpiece of the announcement was an interview on Episode 153 of the podcast with Jill Lajdziak, Saturn’s General manager, and — appropriately —  a mom.  Kristin talked with Jill about the sponsorship in a conversational way that fit perfectly with the tone of the podcast.  Jill, like other marketers who have been on the show, understands that to be effective in this space, they’ve got to be people first, marketers second.  (I wonder if this is due at least in part to a good briefing from Erin and Kristin.)  So before the ladies talked about the sponsorship, they first shared experiences about being a mom, exchanged thoughts about kids and cars, moved on to the topic of safety and, before you knew it, Saturn.  Saturn was built into the conversation, rather than the conversation being built around Saturn.

They went on to talk about what Saturn hopes to get out of the relationship with the Manic Mommies and their audience.    Saturn will set up a forum on the Manic Mommies blog.  This will be a place for special announcements, but Jill mainly sees the forum as a unique opportunity to connect with women in an environment that enables open and honest dialog.  This is pretty innovative when you think about it.  Sponsorship of a blog not merely to promote a product, but to leverage the relationship these two bloggers have with their community in order to talk with current and potential owners more freely and effectively.  Innovative as well is the fact that the forum will be built into the Manic Mommies community, rather than requiring moms to go to the Saturn web site.  So moms are on their territory rather than Saturn’s, which should lead to a much more open and truthful conversation.

You could tell that the Manic Mommies were concerned their audience might worry that we would now be inundated with commercial interruptions from Saturn.  So they reassured everyone that not a whole lot would change, and the main thing people  would notice would be the Saturn forum.  Kristin encouraged people to tell Saturn what they really thought “and don’t sugar coat it!”  Saturn wasn’t “just just looking to hit us all with advertising …  they really want your opinion.”

In their typical charming way Erin and Kristin stressed that Saturn’s support would enable them to provide even better content to their listeners and readers, for example by allowing the both of them to conduct more live interviews, spend more time writing on the blog, and as Erin pointed out, “actually spend more time thinking about the show rather than just four minutes before we start recording.”

It will be interesting to watch how the partnership plays out over the next year.  And if it stays true to the spirit of participation and conversation between the marketer and the audience, rather than becoming just a new way of pumping brand messages to “target consumers.”  From what I’ve seen so far from the Manic Mommies, I have every faith that we’ll be seeing something that stays true to that spirit.

So congratulations to Erin and Kristin on their deal with Saturn, kudos to Saturn for upping their involvement in social media, and good look to both in the coming year.  As Erin quipped at the close of Episode 153, “If the Manic Mommies can save the auto industry, you know, single handedly, my work here is done.”  Erin, I’d be thrilled as anyone if the Manic Mommies were to save the American automobile industry, but even if you do, your work won’t be done.  We’ll all still need our weekly fix of the Manic Mommies.

One last thing.  Erin and Kristin, if you’re reading?  I know I’m a guy, but can I join the Big Tent?  I don’t want to crash the party if it’s only open to “gal pals,” but I’d love to be able to visit the Saturn forum and see what your readers and Saturn are saying.

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GM Saturn shows sense and sensibility

Last week I blogged about the Manic Mommies’ “Sponsorship Spotlight” segment with Lisa from Quinny strollers.  This week in Manic Mommies Episode 139, GM Saturn and the Manic Mommies have demonstrated again how brands can successfully engage in the social media space.

While attending the October 11th BlogHer event, Kristin and Erin talked with Steve from Saturn as he took them for a spin in the Saturn Vue Green Line hybrid.  (Actually Erin did the driving.)   Saturn is sponsoring regional BlogHer events around the country with their BlogHer Reach Out Tour.  They’ve arranged carpools and provided cars for bloggers to make their way to the events.  Then they offer information and test rides for interested bloggers at the event.

Erin and Kristen test drive the Saturn Vue

Sense

These are influential women bloggers, so supporting and building relationships that encourage them to spread positive word of mouth to their audiences makes sense.  And as Steve from Saturn recognized, women control the lion’s share of the household budget and strongly influence the choice of high ticket items.

Steve from Saturn

Sensibility

While talking with the Manic Mommies, Steve showed the same sensibility to the unique situation in which he was representing the Saturn brand.  This was a chat, not a sales pitch.  Like Lisa from Quinny, he made conversation, talked about Saturn like a friend might tell you about the car, joked, and was just genuinely charming.  You got that he truly loved Saturn.  The whole conversation was natural, fun and entertaining.  Just as the Manic Mommies always are.  Like Lisa, we didn’t know Steve’s title or position with Saturn.  It wasn’t important.

Steve, Kristin and the Saturn Sky

Steve, Kristin and the Saturn Sky

The Exception that Proves the Rule

There’s another parenting podcast I love — MommyCast with Paige Heninger and Gretchen Vogelzang.  I never miss an episode, I leave comments, and there’s even a picture of my parrot, Emil, on the MommyCast Facebook page.  But as much as I love them, a couple of months ago they devoted a back-to-school episode to a conversation with one of their sponsors, Staples.  It really got on my nerves, because it didn’t feel like a conversation, it felt like a sales pitch.

Andrew Schneider from Staples — he was the Sales and Marketing Director, or had some other, blah-blah title like that — simply lacked the wit, charm and personality to be effective in a social space like this.  He felt like a fish out of water.  He was stiff and and he talked like a salesman.  I think he did the best that he could.  But he just wasn’t the right person to be talking about his brand in the conversational setting of MommyCast.  No doubt some of the MommyCast listeners heard about some good products and deals from Staples.  But I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them simply switched off.  It was so out of character with what we normally get from MommyCast.  It was more like a half-hour commercial for Staples.

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Thinking about this, there are at least two ways I see brands engaging in social media.  The first one is when a brand creates a community, or consumers create their own community around the brand.  In either of these variations, the brand sets the tone and character and those that identify with the brand participate.  Examples of this are fan pages or blogs, like Moleskinerie for Moleskin enthusiasts.

The other type is when brands are guests within communities that have a culture and character of their own — like the Manic Mommies or MommyCast.  Here the brand walks a fine line.  Marketers who join conversations within these communities must be true to the essence of the brand, but also behave appropriately to the particular community and situation in which they are appearing.  That’s what Steve, from Saturn, and Lisa, from Quinny, both did so well.  And their brands benefited as a result.  The manager from Staples didn’t manage that very well, and his brand suffered.

In future, as more and more brands participate directly in online social communities, perhaps we’ll increasingly observe a new indespensible requirement for a job in the marketing department.  Not only will the candidate have to exhibit marketing sense, but marketing sensibility as well.

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