GM has fired their high-profile marketing chief Joel Ewanick today after finding out he agreed to a $300 million dollar deal to brand Manchester United jerseys with Chevrolet. This is the same guy who on the eve of the Facebook IPO canceled a $10 million dollar contract with Facebook saying that Facebook ads just don't work.
So let me get this straight: a platform that not only mines your social graph to surface your friends interests/brands/likes to you, but also lets you globally target people by age, location, gender, religion, politics and every other demographic imaginable "doesn't work" and yet locking yourself into a 7-year deal spending a third of a billion dollars plastering a logo on soccer jerseys is the right move.
I make no claims that Facebook advertising does work. Both my experiences using their ads didn't amount to much and as a Facebook user myself, I largely ignore all the spammy ads that clutter the right side of my screen. Yet I have to believe that with all the progress we have made in technology over the past 20 years in terms of Ad targeting and Ad tracking that the model of just slapping logos on things can't still be worth that amount of money. That maybe, Mr Ewanick, you just weren't doing it right. It kills me to think there is a powerpoint somewhere showing how that $300 million dollar investment will directly translate into a billion in new sales for GM. When will that old model die?
I wish you the best of luck GM with your new branding deal. I can only imagine how $300 million spent on improving the quality of your cars, the efficiency of your factories or even an internal audit on the quality of your execs might have benefited you differently.