What’s Going on in The Automotive World?


If you’re attending Forecast 2022 on November 16th you’ll find out when Chesley Maddox-Dorsey interviews General Motors Global Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Wahl. In advance of that interview, (which also includes Doug Ray, Chief Product Officer at dentsu) we interviewed Wahl yesterday for a preview of what attendees will learn in two weeks.

Radio Ink: What’s the most challenging aspect of marketing a brand?
Deborah Wahl: We used to worry about reach and frequency and focus on key product attributes. Now marketing is more nuanced – the positioning and communication must resonate and engage with customers beyond the product. it’s a more continuous and personalized conversation versus achieving a reach/frequency goal and then moving on. Cultural fit and impact continues to drive efforts and positioning.

Radio Ink: There are so many platforms today – how do you know which ones work and which don’t.
Deborah Wahl: We measure, we innovate, we learn and we iterate. This shows us quickly what’s working and what’s not working. We believe in experimentation and are working now through our diversity efforts to increase the use of new platforms – see what scales with us and what combination of platforms allows us to hit all of our targets. We evaluate platforms on their ability to help us reach our high propensity audience models and determine which of those accelerates engagement and action.

Radio Ink: How could radio do a better job positioning itself with automotive groups?
Deborah Wahl: Educating the advertisers and agencies on how best to use the platform- theater of the mind is a strong emotive connection when done right and horrible when done wrong. There is also the need to tie outcomes- visits to a showroom, vehicle or service purchases to the radio media that is consumed.

Do you listen to the radio?
Deborah Wahl: Interesting question as it made me reflect that I don’t think of my audio content as radio anymore. Or, I think of all of it as radio. I listen to Sirius – hits one – mostly to stay on top of pop culture. I don’t listen to linear radio as much as I used to – just not enough drive time right now. I have artists and channels I follow – all the way from Billie Eilish, to Post Malone, Lumineers, Led Zeppelin and Buena Vista Social club. Radio for me is in the car. Mostly now use precious car time for podcasts, news and NPR. I miss just enjoying great music on the radio. I use streaming in the house.

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