In this video posted without comment on the Ragan site today and thus tacitly endorsed as a communication best-practice, General Motors vice chairman Bob Lutz sounds like a Neanderthal throughout. (If instead of the screenshot you're seeing the weird spinning "vimeo" logo, just click on the first link in the caption below to see the video.)
Top GM marketing exec Bob Lutz on effective communication from David Meerman Scott on Vimeo.
But it starts getting astonishingly bad at the 3:10 mark as Lutz tells how GM tried to launch a plug-in car as a Buick even though it made no strategic or financial sense. Why? Because they'd already worked real hard on it and had promised battery-makers they'd buy batteries.
And even though they eventually aborted the Buick launch, Lutz says he's still determined to do something with all these durned batteries they got layin' around. "We'll figure out a proper home for it," he says.
I'm a fool for transparency and candor: But only if your executive isn't a dinosaur or a dolt, which is how Lutz comes off in this video, and how he can really not afford to come off in the context of GM's current predicament.
I'd add that David Meerman Scott, the communicator who's "interviewing" him—if it's possible to interview someone's ass with your lips—should have saved Lutz from himself, and shitcanned this video.
Readers, have a gander, and tell me if you agree.
Wow! I think . . . Wow!
There are a few issues with this for me:
-Did they do any planning at ALL before filming this video?! If I were going to do something like this, I’d pre-plan the questions and get a sense of my President’s answers then work with him/her to streamline them so they are brief and clear and effective for online. It appears they just sat down [and it looks like they’re in a hallway or something! Background is important, people!!] turned on the camera and started talking . . . and talking . . . and talking. I gave up at 6:22 because my eyes kept slamming shut. Which brings me to my second point,
-Video clips should NEVER be TWELVE MINUTES long for a corporate video!!! Twelve minutes feels like a lifetime – even when the video is interesting! Go check YouTube if you don’t believe me – the most popular videos are usually less than 3 minutes TOPS!!! NOBODY is going to sit there and listen to someone blather on about Boards of Directors, and batteries – batteries, for cripes sakes!! – for TWELVE MINUTES! Either tighten it up, or make it several shorter clips, each addressing a separate topic/area.
-Finally, communication people are supposed to have an eye for what works visually for on-camera. That suit/tie combo Lutz was wearing was AWFUL for camera. It made him look like Boss Hogg for god’s sake!! It may be a small thing, but on camera small things can make or break the credibility of your video. In this case I got nothing useful from this clip.
As my pal Eileen says: “Blerg”!!!
David Murray says
Kristen, that’s all stuff I didn’t even notice–I really am Mr. No-Holds Barred, Unstaged Genuine Transparency–but lots of good points there.
Here’s yet another point of view, from a friend of mine:
“I don’t know you’re talking about. I think Lutz comes across as frank, honest, real, genuine, articulate and refreshingly without the usual CEO cant, smarmyness, slick emptiness. This makes me admire Lutz. It’s that he’s so unlike the usual and expected that makes me like him.”
Chuck B says
About a minute into it I drifted off and started thinking about buttered popcorn for some reason. With 11 minutes remaining, I got scared of where my thoughts might drift next, so I had to stop it.
Eileen B says
Hahahahah. Buttered popcorn. Chuck makes me laugh.
Kristen – Blerg indeed.