And the winner for most myopic marketing budget allocation is…..

General Motors for pulling out of the Academy Awards.

At least in part the woes of marketers arise from fragmentation of audiences in terms of size and attention and the Academy Awards represent one of the few remaining opportunities to benefit from an audience both large and engaged. On that basis the decision is peculiar and presents a very real threat that GM might lose its hold over this prime real estate over the long term.

What makes it harder to understand still is that a major sponsorship of this nature drives activation opportunities that impact the dealer network and, by consequence sales, and it would be a mistake to dismiss such integrations as brand indulgences best consigned to the memory of happier economic times.

The search for engagement and activation is a complex process and these days the challenge is one of value extraction and value exchange. We know for example that automotive is the ultimate BOBO (browse online, buy offline) category and we know also that television drives web traffic and high volumes of search queries.

If GM re-evaluated the program by dividing the cost by the total web visits and search queries (both solid proxies for revenue) it may just discover that the ROI stood the test. More radically perhaps, the other loser, the broadcaster, might just consider looking GM in the eye and saying that as a fellow endangered species it might consider recalibrating the package and taking some of its compensation tied to business performance. A bold move but surely an inevitable one.

A series of endless price promotions from dealer cash to free fuel surely can’t fool the consumer forever into believing that NOW is the time to buy although employee pricing for everyone might be simpler once you have no employees.

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