In a massive shift of marketing policy, General Motors is allowing hourly or salaried employees of its Renaissance Center to take vehicles home with them either for a weekend or several weekdays. Formerly, only management level employees were allowed to walk out with any product more costly than a key chain. Thus far, approximately 500 such employees have taken advantage of the initiative.
Awkwardly donned, “The Company Vehicle Ambassador Program,” there is nothing awkward about the underlying strategy. CVAP [our acronym] builds on employee test drive events GM began holding at various Michigan locations last summer. Focusing on newly introduced vehicles like the Equinox/Terrain, Traverse/Acadia/Enclave, LaCrosse, SRX and CTS SportWagon, the program represents a grassroots marketing opportunity for The General to improve its reputation. Employees can become more familiar with GM offerings have access to the vehicle itself, and associated marketing and sales materials. In a press release, GM expressed hope that the program could “provide a personal connection to GM.”
The General’s marketing division probably envisions a scenario wherein an employee leaves a Camaro sitting in his/her driveway overnight and then answers questions about the car posed by the curious neighbor the next morning while fetching the paper. The strategy holds particular promise in exposing those friends and neighbors who otherwise may never find their way into a GM showroom.
Wendy Stachowicz, assistant manager for Internal Product Promotions, marked the departure from old policy noting,
Before this program, employees were often caught off-guard when asked by friends and family about GM’s new launch vehicles. Now they are able to share their personal testimony about our vehicles, and most importantly, take an active role in engaging conversations with potential consumers.
The program is still in the testing phase at the Rennaisance Center, but could expand to employees at other facilities including the Warren Technical Center and the Mildford proving grounds. GM outlines ‘education’ and ’empowerment’ as goals, but getting employees excited about the products they are involved in producing is probably the biggest benefit. Take-home vehicles come from the corporate test fleet so the program does not trade off with supplies headed for showrooms.