Tuesday, November 30, 2010

GM Says Thank You

After TARP and the bailouts Corporate America was silent. It seemed to people like you and me, people on the outside, people who had nothing to do with the financial collapse, that we were never going to hear anything different from these companies. They were going to do nothing but do business in the same manner that got us in this mess with no public recognition that they had done everything wrong.

Cynicism set in. The congress that helped keep this country afloat during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression was voted out of office. (That was really their own fault for not communicating what they had done, and the blame cannot be placed on the companies and banks that were bailed out for their fates.) Nevertheless, their silence spoke volumes to the arrogance of the “Haves” and how little they appreciate the “Have-Littles.”

So, it was with great surprise that I saw GM take a stab at going against the grain of hubris and attempt to thank the American people – their largest shareholder – on the eve of their IPO.

The Goodby Silverstein produced spot is nothing remarkable in and of itself. It’s just a montage of inspirational clips, along with filmed footage of a boxer getting pummeled, with a tinge of humor in the form of Animal House clips.

What is remarkable is that they say, “Thank You.” Almost three years after the start of the financial crisis, someone stepped up and attempted to act like an adult. They don’t say what they did wrong, they don’t say why they did it or what they were thinking. However, the simple gesture of saying something was enough for me at this moment.

Will this spark a new trend? No. We will never see Goldman Sachs, AIG (now known as Chartis), Citigroup and anyone else who received our tax dollars commit the simple gesture of saying thanks.

And, I say that without cynicism. It’s not in their DNA. GM at least showed that they are a part of the tangible America that the every day consumer interacts with a daily basis. They don’t make exotic financial products that few of us comprehend.

Sorry to get preachy on you all, but maybe this shows we are at our best as a nation when our industries work to create things that we need. Of course, that’s assuming that GM learned their lesson.

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