Is GM’s “Reinvention” Ad Campaign Working? Study Says: Maybe!

Earlier this month, I expressed some puzzlement over the new GM “revivention’ ad campaign (and accompanying Web site). I was having a hard time deciding whether or not they ads seemed strange because, yknow, the ads are actually strange, or because GM was trying to navigate such unprecedented terrain: a brand that huge, and once so identified with American might, in bankruptcy.

But forget how they appeared to one guy (and to those who commented on said guy’s blog). Are the ads working?

Data provided by a company called Zeta Interactive suggests they might be.

Zeta has this thing that it calls “Zeta Buzz.” It's based on an algorithim scans much of what’s online—from blogs to message boards to social networking sites—to track whether brands and industries are getting good, ah, “buzz,” and calculates the ratio of positive mentions to negative mentions. (If I may digress: After we find new words for “content” and “monetize,” can someone get to work on renaming “buzz?” A weary nation will thank you.) Zeta’s findings on the car industry, which a company rep was kind enough to share, found that GM’s positive mentions online have picked up significantly in the two weeks since the ad began airing.

According to said Zeta rep, it’s sort of a good-news, bad-news situation:

The campaign strategy seems to be paying off, as GM buzz is currently at 73 positive and 27 percent negative over the past two weeks, compared to being only 59 percent positive in the month leading up to the campaign launch – a 14 percent positive buzz increase.

[In comparison] to Toyota, however, the GM brand still has a lot of catching up to do (no surprise there). Toyota’s buzz over the past month has remained consistently positive, coming in at 81 percent positive overall, and the overall volume of posts around the Toyota brand is 12 percent higher than GM.

If we widen the lens a bit and see how car brands have done with Zeta Buzz in the past 90 days, we see—interestingly--that Ford has done remarkably well, with a 76 percent “positive” buzz rating. Chrysler? Not so much. 64% positive. But that’s still better than GM, which over the past 90 days had 57 percent positive posts.

But! This means that in the period after the “Reinvention” ad campaign launched, by Zeta’s metric GM is remarkably outperforming its prior performance.

(In case you’re wondering, Toyota outclassed the field again over the 90 day timeframe, with 83 percent positive posts versus 17 percent that were negative.)

Now, are all of GM’s recent gains due to the ad campaign? Of course not. GM’s situation is not neatly vacuum-sealed from any other influence. It is the subject of a massive, complicated, and multileveled story playing out in real time. And it’s plausible that the natural pendulum swing of the news cycle has, moved slightly away from GM being broken and beaten-down since the bankruptcy filing: the one true bias of news organizations is to look for a countervailing narrative when the storyline gets too familiar.

Nevertheless, no matter what I or other commentators wrote about it, it bodes better for the “reinvention” campaign that GM’s chatter is trending in this direction, rather than the other one.

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