Bailing out the motor industry: What would Google do?

When you are stuck with a marketing problem, one of the best ways to “think outside the box”, is to put yourself in a different box altogether.

To do this, a method I find useful is to ask yourself “if the best marketers in the world had the same problem, how would they approach it?”

Based on a recent book, I call this method WWGD, or:

What Woudl Google Do?

What Would Google Do?

Bailing out the motor industry

To show you how this method works, let’s look at the motor industry in the US (and therefore pretty much everywhere else).

In summary, the US motor industry is in trouble.


We have already seen Chrysler go bankrupt, and have to merge with Fiat. General Motors’ bankruptcy is inevitable, you can’t keep burning $10B in cash each quarter and remain viable.  

General Motors is broken

General Motors is broken

Ford will survive, because when the others collapse, people need to drive something. (Full disclosure, I previously worked at Ford Motor Company).

As a motor company, it is extremely difficult to trade yourself out of bankruptcy. This is because as soon as consumers sense that if they buy a car from you, and they may not be able to get parts or warranty from you in the future, they WILL NEVER buy a car from you. No matter how good a car salesman Obama may be.

As one of the big US motor companies imploding would have major knock on effects around the world, we as marketers need to find a way to bail out this industry with some game changing ideas.

So what would the best marketing organisations do in this situation?

What would Google do?

They would probably launch a performance based model, say Pay Per Click. And by click, I mean kilometre.

You don’t drive, or you car doesn’t start, and you don’t pay, it’s that simple.

Google Pay Per Kilometre Model

Google Pay Per Kilometre Model

They would also start Google Labs, where consumers could play around with prototype cars and offer feedback directly to the engineers who developed them. This would be a nice change to the magical “Ta Da” product launch approach that is currently widely used.

What would Apple do?

Apple would expand the size of the pie by developing a car that is so intuitive and easy to drive (without instructions), that you wouldn’t even need a driver’s license to operate it.

Apple Car

Apple Car

They would introduce an App store for your car, where you could download an app which would give you the ability to make your McDonalds drive through order before you got to the drive through, so your meal would be ready to go when you got there.

To encourage repeat purchase, they would also introduce planned obsolescence into their cars, such as not being able to replace the battery without a degree in astrophysics. That way, consumers would need to repeat purchase every two years.

What would McDonalds do?

McDonalds would give consumers exactly what they say they want, i.e. a salad menu. And by salad menu, I mean a range of electric or hybrid cars, at a premium of course.

McDonalds Car

McDonalds Car

The best part is that McDonalds would know that it is not about the salad. It is about giving consumers the option to go healthy, which makes them feel better even when they still buy your fatty/fuel guzzling products because they are cheaper or faster.

What would Virgin do?

Virgin would definately do something crazy to create media buzz. Like dressing up Richard Branson as an Alien, putting him in a car, strapping it to a rocket and launching him into space.

Virgin Cars

Virgin Cars

Let me tell you, when a car survives a trip into space, EVERYONE will want to buy it.

Because it screams reliability. Having said that though, in space no one can hear you scream reliability.

Could this be the new Ford Galaxy launch campaign?

What would Amazon do?

Like they have done with the Kindle, Amazon would most probably commercialise teleportation and cannibilise their car business before someone else did.

Amazon Kindle Car Charger

Amazon Kindle Car Charger

As it would be less time and space consuming (with no traffic), people would travel more and Amazon would clip the ticket each time essentially reinventing their business model. 

What would Macquarie Bank do?

Macquarie would forget about improving the cars, and instead focus on buying up all the infrastructure, such as toll roads and parking lots. They would then limit access to these to people owning their brand of cars.

Do you want to get to work today? Then you will need to buy one of our cars.

What’s that? You will take the train instead?

That’s ok, we own those too.

Welcome to life outside the box, make yourself at home.

When you use this method on your business’ problem, potentially none of the ideas that come out will be the solution to your problem.

In fact, many will be absolutely the wrong answer to your problem.

But the method guarantees that you will end up thinking “outside the box”.

And once you are there, according to Adidas, impossible is nothing.

You can even shave your logo into the back of kids’ heads if you want to

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Categories: Advertising, Marketing Strategy, Product Marketing, Search


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