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Thoughts About Oldsmobile

A couple years ago, General Motors decided to phase out the Oldsmobile brand. The oldest American automobile company, established in 1897, was closing.

From GM's statement:

General Motors has invested a considerable amount of engineering and capital to develop Oldsmobile's current products — the Alero, Intrigue, Aurora, Silhouette and Bravada. Significant marketing resources have also been dedicated to try to re-position the Oldsmobile brand. But the market has not responded as we had hoped, and Oldsmobile continues to be unprofitable. We looked at opportunities for new products for Oldsmobile, including products we could develop with our alliance partners, but we could not find a profitable solution consistent with the overall General Motors' portfolio.

Accordingly, General Motors' management has decided not to make the considerable additional investment to continue to update and replace Oldsmobile's current products. This decision was difficult, but the management at GM feels strongly that it is the right course of action in order to sustain and strengthen our remaining portfolio of brands. [source]

That statement is remarkable in its honesty and its sensitivity. It presents the facts directly and doesn't attempt to downplay the decision or spin it into good news or seek any scapegoat of any kind. Employees and customers alike deserved and received this kind of respectful statement. Well done — and from someone who learned to drive in an Oldsmobile, thank you.

General Motors has set a fine example in public relations. It's instructive to note the difference in tenor between this, and any typical statement by a politician. The contrast is jarring and not coincidental. Markets reward honesty. Politics does not — not today when Congress behaves as if it has nearly unlimited power to pander to special interests — but it used to, and it could again.

Tiny Island