In an AdAge article, posted this morning, General Motors Chairman, Rick Wagoner told newspaper publishers that the automaker was reviewing the option of changing promotional strategies from the readily recognizable, but often overlooked, “Everything is On Sale” approach to more of a story-telling, advertorial one. He also recognized that, to take advantage of most publishers’ international reach, he wanted promotion experts to start concentrating on out-of-country opportunities.

Wow. It’s about time.

It’s become been an advertising stigma with the auto industry. The “We’ll Beat ANY PRICE” attitude of their ads and the visual onslaught of sales and promotions has become so overwhelming that as potential consumers skim the newspapers, whether looking for a new car or not, these sections usually end up being tossed with the day-old doughnuts and coffee grounds.

Why? In a simple two words… clutter and noise. Not to mention inconsistency…

Ad executives (virtually every one I know) run with their hands covering their ears when an auto maker or local dealership comes to them for sage advertising advice or production, for the simple fact that the “scream at the crowd” attitude has become so commonplace that the brand becomes bland, uninteresting… common.

Mr. Wagoner’s ideas of diversifying their message and telling their brand’s story creates a breath of fresh air in a field of advertising refuse so pungent that most consumers would rather walk onto any random lot and deal with the swanky salesman with the big, gold pinky ring… AAK! And the idea of taking General Motor’s internationally, using U.S. publishers’ reach, is a strategic stroke of brilliance.

Newspaper publishers, although thought of as being an “Old” solution for communication, still have an astounding reach to markets that even the internet hasn’t reached yet. I can count more than a few (78 million) boomers that still depend on that roll of ground wood to supply their daily information. And if Mr. Wagoner wants to continue to speak to them, he’s well on his way to creating a connection that will make GM’s voice unique among the rest of the choir – whether they’re singing in English or not.

I applaud Mr. Wagoner’s epiphany. Although WAY PAST DUE, I see a huge marketing and communications coup – if the brand is communicated truthfully, relevantly, uniquely and engages its market…

What do you think? What are some of your automaker marketing experiences? Do you pay attention to automaker ads, or would you welcome more honesty and disclosure with your brand?

Let me know. And watch your local paper for the next new advertorial from GM!

Keep Cooking!