Image Advertising is Officially Dead

The biggest loser at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games wasn’t a doping athlete. It was a dopey car company: GM.

Sure, the auto giant’s centerpiece ad (“I was made for you”) gets style points. But its game plan was straight out of the Mark Spitz era rather than the streamlined marketing age of Michael Phelps.

Brand image ads simply don’t work any more. Especially when you’re trying to promote eight different brands under the same tattered umbrella.

Perhaps GM is finally getting the point. It announced yesterday that it’s pulling out of the Emmy and Oscar Awards calling the costs “difficult to justify.” This is the company’s last year as a major Olympics’ sponsor, too.

GM needs to think more like a focused brand manager than a holding company if it wants to succeed. Ask yourself: When was the last time you saw a Procter & Gamble corporate ad? (Exactly.)