10 July 2000

General Motors' UK subsidiary Vauxhall has admitted that a high profile TV campaign promoting its internet car sales operation was an expensive flop.

The Luton-based carmaker has spent £7 million to date this year in promoting its special edition range fronted on TV by comedian Griff Rhys-Jones but has so far sold only 900 cars – £7,700 for each vehicle sold!

Conceded a Vauxhall spoke: “We’ve made a lot of mistakes but we’re learning … others will doubtless learn from our mistakes and maybe they’ll do it better when they launch their own service. But we wanted to be first in the market with online sales and we’ve achieved that.”

Vauxhall dealership chain Reg Vardy went out of its way to ensure that the egg on Vauxhall’s face was well and truly scrambled: “Someone here worked out that seventeen faxes flow between us and Vauxhall in fulfilling an order,” said Vardy commercial director Nigel McMinn.

“The customer might hit a button on their computer keyboard but behind the scenes it’s nowhere near as efficient,” McMinn continued. “Given the expense involved in the advertising campaign, Vauxhall would have been better off giving the cars away – it would certainly have generated more interest.”

News source: Sunday Business (UK) [9-Jul-00]