afaqs!

Digital reassurance by GM India

By Kapil Ohri , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | June 03, 2009
While the company's US office has filed for bankruptcy, General Motors (GM) India has started using online advertising and online reputation management techniques to build confidence among consumers

General Motors (GM) India has initiated an online advertising campaign and started using online reputation management techniques to counter negative word-of-mouth, as its US office has filed for bankruptcy.

A banner ad campaign, titled 'There for you, There for India' has gone live across major sites, such as Yahoo.co.in, Rediff.com, Moneycontrol.com and IBNLive.com.

& #BANNER1 & #To build credibility in the advertising, the company has used the image of Karl Slym, president and managing director of GM (India) in the banner ad, pointing out that GM has already invested over $1 billion in India; it will launch its Cruze brand and a mini-car on schedule; and that the automobile company plans to have 250 sales and service outlets in India by the end of 2009.

On clicking the banner, consumers are redirected to a microsite, where a special FAQs section has been put up to answer various queries related to the impact of bankruptcy on India. For instance, there are questions such as: 'Will the US bankruptcy filing in any way impact the Indian operations?', 'How about spare parts and service?' and 'What are GM's future plans in India?'

Piyush Rathi, business director, Quasar Media, the digital agency which has conceptualised the campaign, tells afaqs!, "It is an assurance-building campaign, aimed at informing consumers that India and the US are two separate operations of GM. And the Indian arm is debt-free and self- sufficient and consumers will continue to get after-sales services."

The automobile company has also utilised search marketing on Google and its network of sites, as it figured out that consumers have started searching online for more information about the GM bankruptcy issue. "The search volume related to GM in India has increased 2-3 times in the last few days," says Rathi.

GM's search marketing campaign is also aimed at diverting consumers to the same microsite, where FAQs related to bankruptcy are answered. For instance, a search on 'GM India' results in a sponsored link, titled 'Chevrolet Confidence', presented along with the search results. Clicking on the sponsored link takes consumers to the microsite. The company is using keywords such as GM India, GM, Chevrolet and Bankruptcy for its search marketing campaign.

Rathi points out, "The banner and search ads are targeted to reach 3-5 million unique users interested in automobiles, within two-three days, through 200-300 websites, most of which are present in the Google network." GM will also use Microsoft's DrivePM ad network to boost the reach of its online ads.

An e-mail marketing campaign is also in progress. For this, GM will use its own database of about 100,000 consumers and has tied up with Rediff.com to source the database of more than a million consumers, who are interested in automobile-related information.

Other than advertising, the company plans to utilise online reputation management techniques to build confidence among consumers in India.

A team of four to five members has been set up, which is tracking various blogs and online forums, discussing automobile and GM related matters in India. The team will interact with various people writing on these forums and get in touch with bloggers to explain the real situation.

The company is also planning to take the help of editorial teams of various automobile sites, such as Carwale.com, Gaadi.com and Zigwheels.com, to put across the reality that GM India will not get affected by the bankruptcy claims of its US counterpart.