Blog: Dave LeggettMore on Oprah

Dave Leggett | 17 September 2004

I'm increasingly not so sure whether my case of slight moral indignation at cars being given out free to the whole audience at a gameshow is wholly justified. It was an instant reaction to such an extravagant sounding giveaway and, if I'm honest, slightly clouded by my general dislike of programmes like Oprah's (although her's is certainly not the worst in the genre). Maybe there are worse things to get morally indignant about, but I still say that in a world in which wealth is spread around pretty unevenly, it won't play well amongst the have-nots and those who look for any excuse to criticise America. But you can't blame GM or Oprah for that I suppose. 'Nuff said.

I've had a useful e-mail from Bill Cawthon on the subject that throws some light on the subject from where GM is sitting:

"From what I understand, GM's strategy was nothing short of brilliant, as many people did not know that it had supplied the vehicles at its own expense in return for repeated plugs during the show. Most people thought Oprah was giving away the cars, something she could easily afford to do. It wasn't until later that it came out that GM had supplied the cars but by then the story had already spread that most of the cars were given to women who really needed them. For what is, by GM standards, a comparatively small amount of money, the company comes off as a semi-anonymous benefactor to deserving women. Sort of an 'Aw, Shucks' fairy godcompany.
Despite what some might think, it may ulitmately matter little whether the ploy pays off in increased longterm interest in the Pontiac G6. What does matter is that many women will remember the event itself, not the clever marketing. They will associate GM favorably with Oprah at some level, resulting in a positive image for GM. When you consider the high percentage of new vehicle purchases either made or influenced by women, this may well be the most shrewd promotional investment any automaker has made in a very long time."


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