Sunday, November 28, 2010
We all fall down
General Motors hasn't been known, recently, for tact or class. A company that was once one of the largest and most respected corporations in the world has fallen on hard times. They've become the object of ridicule and criticism. They've been at the center of a political debate over how the government should deal with the imminent collapse of a major institution. "Too big to fail?" Foolish executives, massive job losses and colossal market share reduction have left them downtrodden and pathetic.
I was surprised, then, to see this commercial the other day. It's the first time that I've become aware of any demonstration of remorse from GM. I'm not knowledgeable about all the changes in management at GM, but it appears that someone is making some good choices. This commercial, which amounts to a corporate PSA, comes within weeks of GM's huge and successful IPO. They raised over $20 billion from the stock issue; some huge proportion will go towards repayment of the $50 billion bailout from the federal government.
This seems like good, humble corporate governance after a season of terrible decisions. Moreover, this commercial, albeit, creatively speaking, a hodge-podge of barely relatable images, plays like an act of contrition on the part of GM. The former corporate titan says, literally, "Thank you for helping us get back up."
As a Democrat, and supporter of President Obama, I can't help but see this as vindication of the bailout. Certainly not everyone will see it that way. But I feel as if there is a gentle voice whispering, "see, it was important to help and rehabilitate an iconic American institution and protect thousands of jobs."
I'm a fan of redemption stories of all types. I would probably never buy any car other than a Honda or Toyota(except for maybe a Cadillac), but I'm happy for GM. I respect and admire them for using their influence and resources to communicate such a heartfelt message to the American people, and I'm pleasantly surprised that they had enough insight to recognize their role in the development of American industry and their future role in helping our economy return to its former glory.