A few automotive-related ditties here. The first is a big one, and not only because it deals with the biggest car maker in the US. It appears that TNS Media Intelligence is saying that GM has “slashed ad spending by more than $600 million last year, a drop so stunning it should convince even the staunchest doubters that the age of mass-media marketing is going the way of the horse and buggy.”

So says this story in Ad Age. Apparently, GM is disputing the TSN numbers, but the overall message is clear:

Whether the cut was as large as the 23.6% indicated by TNS or closer to the 10% estimated by GM, the fact is that the country’s second-largest advertiser is demonstrating a shift toward channels such as direct marketing, websites, online video, event marketing, branded entertainment and internet advertising, which are harder to track than the other major media channels.

Um, yeah. GM is finally waking up to the dire conclusion that business-as-usual will be its downfall. Perhaps that’s why Pontiac — yeah, Pontiac — is making some waves in the GM portfolio.

First of all, check out the comments made by Mark-Hans Richer, Pontiac’s marketing chief, at the recent Madison & Vine conference. “If we aren’t conducting radical experiments, trying new ways to engage our targets and adding value to them, then we’re not doing our jobs,” he said.

One of those experiments, it seems, is Pontiac’s Friends with Benefits campaigns on MySpace. According to AdPulp, “the idea is this: buy a G5, register your purchase on the MySpace page and receive a Friends with Benefits debit card. The more people that do this, the more the debit card increases in value (up to $1000 by year’s end). If you don’t buy a new car, you can still get the Friends with Benefits debit card and use it for music downloads and VIP access to concerts and sporting events.”

Not bad for a “radical” experiment…if radical is the right word.

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