GM Retires Mr. Goodwrench

Great. Now Detroit is even downsizing advertising icons…

After thirty-seven years of kind-of trusty service, the symbol of GM’s dealer service brand will be pushed into retirement, replaced by the oh-so-forgettable moniker, “certified service.”

Dennis Ryan, Chicago Advertising, Element 79Think about that: GM is moving from “Mr. Goodwrench” to “certified service”: if there’s ever been a more blatant example of corporate blanding, I can’t think of it.

Admittedly, the vanilla-ing process started years ago as they moved away from the big-nosed, bald, almost pervy original characterization to a more Leni Riefenstahl-esque illustrated worker.  And there’s no denying Goodwrench now has less to keep him busy in the shop: Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer and Saab are out, leaving Chevy, Buick, GMC and Cadillac.  That’s still a lot of work, but apparently, not enough to save the old mechanic’s job.

The company issued the requisite statements about how Mr. Goodwrench had grown disconnected from the brands, how they need to more directly link car buying and service as “a good ownership experience” which ultimately  amounts to “…a declaration of our commitment to our customers.”  Whatever.

I won’t pretend that Mr. Goodwrench represented brilliant branding or even half-decent advertising.  But that name is emblematic of something increasingly rare among today’s less-imaginative marketing ranks: idiosyncratic ideation.  Sure it’s kind of cheesy, but at least that advertising critter was memorable, far more so than something as innocuously descriptive as “certified service.”

To me, that’s the real bummer about seeing Mr. Goodwrench go…


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79


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