Whether you’re a loyal GMC customer interested in a heavy-duty 2019 GMC Sierra 3500, or even a base 1500, you might have noticed the changing face of GMC – at least in terms of its recent marketing initiatives.
Fueled by the increasing trend of dropping polished, celebrity spokespeople, and establishing a more relatable, home-grown approach, the automaker has spent most of the past year looking for the perfect real-world face of what they are calling ‘the New GMC’. And it appears they have found it, in (of all things) a fifteen-year old girl. But most troubling is the dual-narrative that seems to be popping up, detailing a stark difference in motivation, between the official “why” behind GMC’s selection, and the truth.
Here’s the official press release, issued earlier this month:
“General Motors Company has long been associated with the backbone of the American worker, reflective of their tenacity, pride and dependability. But it’s 2019, and the face of the American worker is changing. No longer epitomized by the lined, dirt-covered face of masculine laborers, motivated Americans are taking all forms, unhindered by industry, race, religion or gender. Reflecting that change, GMC aims to evolve its own image, to embrace the America of tomorrow in place of the America of yesteryear. Plus, one can’t help but appreciate that our new spokesperson’s name just happens to be Sierra.”
But the automaker’s selection of fifteen-year old Sierra Mahan as their new corporate spokesperson has some automotive pundits, scratching their heads. Called to task for, what some are calling ‘the clinginess’ GMC’s marketing team responded by stating:
“The future is female. And while Generation Z has now taken its first steps into the word of car-buying, we still need to appeal to the younger portion of that particular demographic. As such, we have chosen a female Gen-Z’er, of median age, to proudly represent her entire generation.”
Okay, fine. That makes sense, to some extent. And while a newly-licensed, or even newly-legal driver is unlikely to invest in a brand-new $30,000+ truck, it could reasonably enforce brand awareness in a younger generation of drivers. After all, GMC is largely overlooked (as a brand) in the eyes of younger demographics.
But the discovery of a truly cringy internal memo might have exposed the true rationale behind the decision. While the parties involved in the memo will retain their anonymity (pending validation of the memo’s authenticity) it would appear that their rationale was based on more than age, gender or a shared name.
For 2019, GMC has reported a 360-lb weight loss for the Sierra, attributed to a combination of lighter components and accentuated by a lean, more contoured styling. According to the memo, GMC execs had compared the truck to “that girl who finished ninth grade a little chunky, then comes back thin, and super-hot after summer vacation”.
While there’s no proof that the statement had any correlation to the selection of spokesperson, it’s hard to discount the fact that the company has chosen a tenth-grade girl as the spokesperson. Adding fuel to the fire, is the fact that (according to her classmates) Sierra Mahan had changed quite a bit over the summer. And while we’ll spare the actual quotes and subjective terminology used, let’s just say that it’s evocative of the scenario detailed in the aforementioned memo.
But criticism aside, GMC’s strategy might have worked. The recent pairing of the hashtag #GMCSierra with #IWould has earned the automaker a place among trending leaders. Traceable to teenage social media profiles, it appears that GMC might finally be popular with the kids.