**UPDATE: A few folks asked whether GM is a client. The answer as of this blog post is no. No money exchanged hands. No gifts. Well, they bought lunch, but we bought drinks. This post and the next 2 come from passion.** Eventually, this becomes a story about confidence. In part 1, I’m going to set the stage, and talk a bit about how I came to visit GM, play with their toys, meet some of their senior team, as well as their social team. Part 2 is tomorrow.
Twitter is a strange thing. The other day, I asked a question: “If I think the Cadillac CTS is hot, does that make me an old man?” Within a few minutes, I had over a hundred responses to the question (98% said no). Most people told me they thought the car was sexy, or that they owned one themselves.
Thing is, I’d never really seen one before. From this interaction sprang a conversation with General Motors’ own Christopher Barger, director of social media, and from that came the fortune to have a visit to GM’s headquarters in Detroit, Michigan.
Oh, and on the way, I got to drive a 2010 Chevy Camaro, a 2009 Cadillac Escalade (as part of a cool OnStar demonstration), and a Cadillac CTS and the Cadillac CTS-V (which has a Corvette engine under the hood). Did I mention I got the chance to talk with GM’s new CEO, Fritz Henderson, and also their head of communications, the legendary Steve Harris? Did I mention that I got to have lunch with GM’s entire social media team? (Okay, not all of them. Natalie wasn’t there.)
First, A Quick Piece of Background
At South By Southwest, I was speaking with Christopher Barger when I realized something: except for the very first car my parents gave me (a Dodge Aspen), every car I owned has been in the GM family: (a Citation, a Caprice Classic, a Geo Tracker, and 5 Saturns). I am a passionate Saturn owner (shout out to Lesley on Saturn’s social media team), and when I heard that GM was considering Saturn as one of the brands they may park, I expressed concern about how I’d figure out what to buy next time.
Flash forward a few weeks later, and I’m sitting at a street light and a Cadillac CTS pulls up alongside me, and I think it’s very sexy. This confuses me. Isn’t Cadillac the old man car? Turns out it’s not. I knew that Escalade was a cool vehicle, but I didn’t want a big SUV. And that’s how I ended up visiting GM’s headquarters: because of a few conversations and a tweet about a car.
The 2010 Camaro is HOT!
I came to GM to talk about social media and to try out a Cadillac, but Adam Denison, a social media guy on Chevy’s Camaro and Corvette accounts (eat your heart out) was able to wrangle me some time behind the wheel of a Camaro. Yeah, like I’m going to say no to that. Now, I’m not a gear-head. I know there were lots of horses under the hood. I also know that the thing gets 27MPG.
The thing was hot. People stared at it. I heard a story that cops were pulling the car over repeatedly just to check it out. And it’s going to retail for somewhere in the mid- to high- $20,000 range.
Some critics have come out and asked why GM is putting out a “muscle” car in these economic times. Some have asked what this has to do with getting the company back on more solid ground financially, as it’s a somewhat niche car, and not likely to move the masses.
This car is confident. Not arrogant. Confident. It is beautiful. It makes you stare at it. It is a delicious piece of design work. I’d read some so-so reviews of the car in USA Today, and so my expectations weren’t very high, but pow! This car is the kind of car people will talk about. And that kind of confidence is useful.
To me, the story GM is about to tell is about confidence in more than one direction. And that’s what we’ll get into with tomorrow’s piece.