Detroit, MI – As recently reported by The Lemon, the marketing team at General Motors has had a rough go of things as of late. Looking to reinvigorate their initiatives to reflect the evolving expectations of Generation Y and Z car-buyers, GM decided to bring Josh Billings onboard, to ‘shake things up’. Branded as some sort of a ‘marketing wunderkind’, the young executive entered to no shortage of fanfare, supported by the full confidence of GM’s senior management team. Expecting him to provide countless new insights, Billings’ efforts had fallen somewhat short of those expectations to-date.
For example, when tasked with jump-starting the popularity of the iconic (yet idling) Chevy Malibu, Billings took the unorthodox approach of cross-marketing the vehicle with the Caribbean rum that served as its namesake. Fearing any implication that GM supported, let alone encouraged drinking & driving, Billings campaign was shot down immediately (albeit not before it was presented publicly to the automotive press corps).
Provided with the opportunity to redeem himself, Billings took on the coveted task of promoting the celebrated Chevy Camaro for the 2019 model year to come. With decades worth of iconography to draw from, one might argue that Billings could have played it relatively safe while still creating an immensely successful campaign. And while his approach certainly catered to nostalgia by addressing longtime Camaro enthusiasts (many of whom are aging Baby Boomers), his decision to base the campaign around erectile dysfunction could only be described as a short-sighted misstep. And his suggestion that the Camaro could be used as a substitute for such ED medications as Viagra drew the ire of Pfizer, the pharmaceutical group responsible for creating the celebrated ‘little blue pill’. After a formal apology was issued (and against their better judgment) GM allowed Billings to make his third, and final attempt, to prove himself worthy of the position.
The task? To promote the 2019 lineup of Chevy SUVs; a challenge which Billings embraced with gusto. Prior to the official presentation, he was quoted as saying, “The universal appeal of Chevy’s crossover and SUV lineup make this a slam dunk, in my opinion. Informed by my previous failings, I will take great pride in presenting such impeccably designed vehicles with the esteem that they so rightfully deserve.”
Judging solely by that statement, one might assume that Billings had a clear idea of what he was looking to achieve. But that statement was given on a Wednesday morning, approximately 8 hours before Billings’ recurring weekly appointment to get intoxicated with his brother/roommate, dress up in animal costumes and harmonize “Africa” the 1981 classic by classic-rock band, Toto.
This, of course, was unbeknownst to GM CEO Mary Barra, who reluctantly introduced Billings to the press corps the next day, expecting his presentation to be complete. It was then that Billings showed up, with unkempt hair and beard, sporting an undersized mesh tank top and snug jeans tucked into unlaced work boots. Drawing deep breaths from a marijuana vape pen, he seemed unable to stop laughing. Stepping up to the podium, he composed himself and began to speak.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the automotive press community, “ he stated with utmost sincerity. “I give up.” He then burst out in laughter and ran out the hall, stripping off articles of clothing while he did so. In hindsight, GM remains tight-lipped about the reason why they would put so much faith in such an untested creative resource. Billings (who reeks of red wine and regret) claims that he got the job because of “his deee-ack”, but GM has yet to confirm or deny such statements.