Saturday, April 10, 2010

Project sponsorship and the corporate jungle

Take a look at just about any automotive magazine, or how-to television show and you will see lots of really nice vehicles, and manufactures tend to throw lots of money or product at these things. Now just for shits-and-giggles, have you ever bought anything just because you saw it on television or in a build story? Didn’t think you have, and from talking to literally hundreds of people I haven’t found even one person who has bought anything they have seem in print or on the screen.
On the same topic, when was the last time you saw something that was actually original?
Not that all the shows are bad, there are a couple who actually try something new, sort of, once in a while. People watching just can’t seem to relate however, these TV shops have every tool imaginable, all the latest ‘stuff’, whereas the homebuilder has to make due with what they have or can borrow. A hand up, who has bought a plasma cutter in the last while because they saw it on TV, better to ask who has the spare cash?
Even if people had the cash to buy something to make their passion easier to follow in their home shop, they buy what they see their contemporise using, if someone you know uses whatever, you can at least ask their impression.
Let’s look at the actual parts of a project, just like the tools, these shows and magazine vehicles always seem to have all the latest and greatest, whereas the enthusiast has to save and make do with what they can afford, that is why some of these home builds take five to ten years.
Enough griping, did anyone know that television networks don’t pay for content from these shows? All those cool tools and parts you see are there because companies have to pay big money to get the parts there, and in some cases supply staff to actually do the work, rather than the talking heads on the screen. The production company then buys time to air the show. It is big business with a large number of people who do nothing but see the idea of getting companies this and that on the screen or in a magazine.
Hope I haven’t spoiled anyone view of a television hero!

So what if you come up with a really unique idea for a project, start to save your pennies, because there is NO HELP out there for you. Doesn’t matter that your project will be seem by hundreds or thousands of people who are into the same thing you are, the real customers, who might actually buy something because they see it being used.
Don’t even think of going after any of the Detroit three, they make it almost impossible for anyone to find the person to talk to, and even if you get lucky enough to find the correct person, you will find they have a manager who is an accountant, not a car person, and that is the end of that, no support is available.

Point in case, and I risk repercussions for even mentioning this, but then again I wouldn’t be a rebel without a clue if I let things alone 8-)

A few years ago at a media breakfast at the SEMA show I spoke to a management type from GM, not yet Government Motors then, but heading that way. I digress.
I explained an idea for a project I had, and I was pleasantly surprised how excited he became. He even told me to get in touch after the show and promised to help out because he thought the idea was very cool and original. What transpired next was very enlightening. We exchanged e-mails for a while, and I thought we had become more or less friends, my mistake. You see I mentioned I thought GM was making a slight mistake with the direction they were heading and might be going in the wrong direction that would lead to very bad endings.
OOPS! I next get an email that more of less told me to piss-off, and when I enquired why the abrupt change in direction I got a call back from GM security telling me not to contact the said manager any more. Nice guys, and guess what? I was correct in my gazing into my crystal ball, General Motors becomes Government Motors, and some times I hate it when I am right.

Ford and Chrysler are not much better as far as trying to get support, but at least they don’t send the security dogs after you. I have found the European and Japanese manufactures are very polite, they listen at least, however they too are stuck in the same rut, the small builder or home builder who will actually be able to show off their products just do not seem to count.

I have come to discover that large companies are a lot like government, totally out of touch with their market, too big and secretive, and too many accountants how are not car people. Anything that is truly different scares them; this is because they think they know better, they have been doing their thing their way for years. Oh wait, didn’t many of these guys end up in Chapter 11 because they were not listening to what people wanted, and spent gross amounts of money on thing like NASCAR sponsorships, and television shows. At one time this actually worked, win on the weekend sell next week was the rule, but then again, the cars looked different then, not now, strip off that wrap and line them up, and try and tell them apart.

Will these big manufactures ever learn? Not until they start to look beyond the next quarter, and start to pay attention to the small players who will do a far better job of supporting the product through their social networks and actually being out there with their creations with people of a like mind.

Have a great weekend, and get out there and play.

No comments:

Post a Comment