General Motors made waves in the advertising industry not once, but twice in the past week. First, GM announced that it would no longer buy ads on Facebook. A few days later, GM made perhaps an even more surprising announcement that it did not plan to advertise during Super Bowl XLVII next February. What is going on? One of the biggest spenders on measured media is stepping away from a trendy new medium and a vaunted cultural event at the same time. These moves do not seem like decisions of a company that reported a net income of $1 billion in the most recent quarter. But, just because a company has resources to spend on certain marketing activities does not mean it should. GM has figured this out.
The primary question for GM or any business to consider is not whether it can afford to advertise on Facebook, the Super Bowl, or any other medium. Instead, what really matters is what marketing objective can be achieved as a result of the marketing spend? If a marketing tactic does not deliver against one or more objectives – don’t do it! GM’s reservations with Facebook and Super Bowl advertising may be caused by not establishing a link between the activity and the outcome. Apparently, GM’s competitors feel this way as Ford jabbed at GM for its Facebook decision, suggesting GM does not “get” social media. And, Hyundai felt the need to proclaim its intention to continue as a Super Bowl advertiser.
Did General Motors make good decisions to step away from advertising on Facebook and during the Super Bowl? Yes, if it cannot determine how to use these channels to advance its business. Brands have a multitude of options to choose from when developing marketing communications strategy. Facebook and the Super Bowl are effective communication channels for many brands but not necessarily all brands. And, let’s not forget that GM is not bailing on Facebook, just Facebook advertising. Also, the company says it will have a presence around the Super Bowl, just not in-game commercials.
The advertising game consists of many different ad “plays,” with Facebook and the Super Bowl being but two of them. If you have a game plan, identifying objectives an ad play should achieve, then get in the game. If an ad play does not advance the brand or business, sit on the sidelines even if “everybody” is advertising there.