We all fall down, but we don’t all get bailed out: A look at GM’s ‘Thank You’

General Motors’ “Thank you” commercial, which aired on Thanksgiving following a remarkable $2 billion profit in the third quarter, thanks Americans for “helping us get back up.” The message was that “we all fall down,” illustrated with familiar examples of falling down and recovering—an early rocket’s failure to launch is later followed by a successful Apollo launch. Some clips are more whimsical, with Popeye getting an upward boost from spinach and a dispirited Animal House frat meeting hearing John Belushi’s humorously inspirational “Not me! I’m not gonna take this!”

Going by some of the reactions and comments to the commercial, people have had mixed feelings about GM’s message, with some deeming it “classy” and others absolutely tasteless. Considering that GM’s “getting back up” was sustained by American tax dollars, “thank you” may not be enough for consumers who think the company should have righted itself on its own. Moreover, could GM be celebrating too soon? One critic interviewed by Paul Ingrassia of The Wall Street Journal said GM is putting cost regulation aside for fleeting marketing benefits. Consumer anxieties about America’s automakers won’t be allayed for long if the companies aren’t making changes in their operations.

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