Between the Lines: GM's LaNeve on Red Tag Sale

This image was lost some time after publication.
This image was lost some time after publication.

The General has decided to revive the moribund market for its substandard sheet metal with yet another national incentive / discount campaign. Out goes GM s Total Value Promise (something about the sticker price reflecting the actual price), less than halfway through its promised run. In comes the Toe Tag Sale — I mean, Red Tag Sale. The man who promised to stay the course is, of course, the same man who must now sell the new, new plan. And check this: Monster Mark LeNeve is blogging!


GM s VP of Vehicle Sales and Marketing begins his Red Tag with a Twist blog post with a subtle justification for The General s volte-face and then, as befits a million-dollar-a-year (plus) marketing maven (just ask his Mom), adds a come-on.

Last year about this time, GM introduced the Red Tag Sale, a year-end marketing program that broke new ground for us and was a huge success. This week we ve brought it back for another run from Nov. 13 to January 3, 2006 but it s a new and improved version.

LaNeve s use of the expression about this time is entirely inappropriate. Although LaNeve probably thinks the wooly time frame makes him appear friendly, it actually undermines his authority and makes him seem defensive right from the git-go. What s wrong with launching another discount campaign? We did it last year

Also, you ve got to wonder to whom the Monster thinks he s talking. Why should potential GM consumers care that the previous Red Tag Sale was an innovative success for MM s employer (ignoring the fact that it wasn t)? There s an implied sense of arrogance — what s good for GM is good for your sorry ass — which won't sit well with GM camp followers (e.g., the seriously pissed-off comments following MM s blog entry).

It s also interesting to note that the Monster s put a precise time frame around the latest GM fire sale. Lest we forget, GM extended its summer promotion — twice. But hey, this is a new and improved version of the Red Tag Sale where

the listed price will be low, surprisingly low; and the price on comparably equipped models will be the same nationwide. This simple, consistent offer, along with the what you see is what you pay concept is the kind of straight-forward approach to pricing that people really appreciated about our earlier programs.


All hail the Monster for a well-placed semi-colon, but OCD demerits for forgetting the comma in the second sentence. Oh, and highlighting the fact that the previous Red Tag Sale sucked. Did you know that last year s Red Tag Sale offered different prices to different regions? Me neither. It kinda makes you think the surprisingly low comment means that the previous Red Tagger s prices were low, but not surprisingly so (no surprise there).

The second graph s real downer is the Monster s price promise. It s a lie. If you listen closely to the advertised details, GM s red tags will show a vehicle s maximum price — not the final price. In other words, if you take MM s what you see is what you pay statement at face value and don t try and beat your dealer down a bit more, you re a chump. [Jalopnik looks forward to readers analysis of GM Red Tag prices vs. pre-Red Tag prices.]


From there, Monster Mark goes spinning off into cyberspace:

There are a couple of reasons why I like the Red Tag Event. First of all, it builds on the growing consumer awareness that GM stands for tremendous value... Just as importantly, Red Tag again gives us a leg up on the competition. With our program, consumers won t be at all confused about what they are going to pay for a a [sic] Chevy, Buick, Pontiac or GMC vehicle. After all, it s right there on the sticker. None of our competitors can make that claim.


Let s set aside the ego issues surrounding Mark s compulsion to tell us why he (of all people) likes the Red Tag Event (what happened to Red Tag Sale?). Anyone familiar with GM s current woes is in real danger of snorting coffee out their noses at the statement that there s a growing consumer awareness that GM stands for tremendous value. Either MM is a lying weasel, lost his mind completely, or is finally ready to admit that consumers view GM as the K-Mart of carmakers. The Monster s re-iteration of the misleading price promise skews the odds towards the first explanation.

I won t trouble you with GM s Chief Cheerleader s Big Finish, except for the final bon mots:

the focus on exceptional value represented by our vehicles strengthens the GM brand. That is critical to our success in 2006 and beyond.


To my mind, the really odd part of MM s sign-off is LaNeve s belief in a GM brand. The last time I looked, GM had eight domestic brands, not one. If we accept the Monster s concept of one big happy GM family, and his assertion that exceptional value is its hallmark, then I m afraid there s not much hope left for The General s prospects for 2006 and, should it live long enough, beyond.

Red Tag with a Twist [GM Fastlane Blogs]

[Jalopnik s Between the Lines column parses the rhetoric of the automotive industry, and the media that covers it, from the point of view of that kid at the back of the class with ADD, a genius IQ and a thirst for mayhem.]


Between the Lines: Lutz in the Blogosphere [internal]