To paraphrase the frequently misquoted words of former GM president Charles E Wilson: “What’s bad for General Motors is equally bad for America – or any place else on the globe.”

Faced with falling sales worldwide, General Motors Corporation yesterday announced swingeing cutbacks across North America and Europe with the loss of over 10,000 jobs - around 10% of its total workforce. GM blames the current profits shortfall on increasing losses at its European unit, along with problems in Asia-Pacific, notably at affiliate Isuzu.

In the US, the highest profile casualty is GM’s oldest surviving brand – Oldsmobile – to be phased out after more than one hundred years for failing to attract younger buyers.

According to a GM spoke, Oldsmobile’s brand-focused advertising will switch to promotional during the run-down, although this will not affect the present contest for a major brand assignment due in the first quarter of 2001. This is currently mid-pitch with three combatants battling it out: incumbent Leo Burnett, Chicago; fellow Windy City shop E Morris Communications (which handles Olds’ African-American account); and the Troy, Michigan, office of McCann-Erickson.

Oldsmobile’s measured media adspend, already trimmed from 1999’s $330 million to $92 million in the first half of this year, is almost certainly due for further cuts

News sources: Advertising Age - Daily Deadline; Financial Times