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GM: “We All Fall Down”

I was prepared to see Spongebob, Snoopy and various animated stars in today’s telecast of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, but was stunned to see Popeye in this commercial from General Motors. It’s a classy spot from GM, thanking us – the American people – for the loan that got them out of a financial hole and allowed them to report a record breaking $1.2 billion dollar profit this past week. I’m pleased they spent some of that money to give thanks – and to license a clip from Max Fleischer’s Axe Me Another (1934).

  • uncle wayne

    That is truly tremendous. And that they used a real b&w one!!

  • Christopher Cook

    Nice spot. No voiceover needed and it worked great.

  • sean

    stunningly classy I agree. strange how some of our greatest truths are from fiction.

  • Ryoku

    And thanks for out-sourcing to Mexico and Canada!

  • Agreed, tremendous spot, but couldn’t they have made the point without the Challenger? Unlike everything else in the commercial, lives were lost. I can’t imagine having a tragedy being used for a car company advertisement, even in this context.

    • Fret not, they made the point without Challenger. That isn’t Challenger in the commercial.

      The first rocket clip is one of many *unmanned* rocket failures in our oeuvre, the second is an Apollo launch. No lives were lost in either clip.

      The US has never had a manned rocket fail on the pad.

    • Iritscen

      Where was the Challenger in this ad?

    • Joel O’Brien

      The rocket launch video in the GM spot is not the ill-fated “Challenger” blast-off. It appears to be a Saturn 5 which was not used in Shuttle missions.

    • Paul N

      The rocket failing was not Challenger, nor was it a Mercury or Apollo launch.

      The U.S. had many, many unmanned rocket failures in the early days of the space race as NASA tried various designs for post-Mercury missions. The rocket used in the Mercury missions was an adapted ICBM, and those worked quite well for the task.

  • Chris Webb

    The rocket that wasn’t getting off the launch pad was not the Challenger. That disaster happened in 1984. The footage was most likely from a Mercury space project in the early ’60s. Several of those rockets didn’t leave the pad. As you recall, the Challenger blew up while it was in the air.

    • Actually, it was a Thor. The Thor was a Air Force IRBM, which when paired with a number of different upper stages, became very successful medium-lift booster. The Thor was also the precursor to the Delta family of boosters which have launched everything from communications satellites to Mars probes.

      They were not used in the Mercury program. That program used the Army’s Redstone IRBM and the Air Force’s Atlas ICBM as boosters.

      This concludes your space history lesson for the day. (And yes, the second rocket was the Saturn V.)

    • Chris,

      The Challenger blew up on January 28, 1986.

      An episode of PUNKY BREWSTER (the Season 2 finale, which was also the last NBC episode) was made in response to that incident, and Buzz Aldrin guest-starred, teaching Punky the same lesson as the above video.

      Which I thought was poignant (especially the Popeye clip!).

  • Carl

    Huh? They actually refrained from using a low, raspy, compressed voice to narrate the whole thing? Are they allowed to do that?

  • It would have been a lot better if all the non-Popeye stuff had been removed and replaced with Popeye stuff.

  • Is it too late to delete that?

  • AaronSch

    Hey GM, you can thank me by producing a car that people actually want to purchase. Sorry, but I’m not one of the idiots who believe that the government was right in bailing you out. If the American people educated themselves and knew the truth, they would realize that the bailout was for the UAW union and not General Motors. The U.S. already has bankruptcy laws that should have been employed to reorganize the company and reign in the ridiculous union contracts and pensions which cripple GM and make it nearly impossible to compete globally with the Japanese auto industry. They will be right back in the same place real soon. Get your heads out of your asses. Borrowing from Peter to pay Paul never works:

    According to Ward’s Auto, the White House has announced that the government will purchase the first 100 Chevy Volts to roll off the assembly line later this year. The government is also considering adding the plug-in hybrid electric Dodge Ram to its fleet, though how many units it’s considering has not been released.

    Whether or not the Volt and PHEV Ram are being considered because the government just happens to be part owner of their parent companies remains to be seen, but we haven’t heard mention of the excellent Ford Fusion Hybrid.

    That ad is pathetic. It’s a shame Popeye is being exploited.

    • Texas

      Hmmm, Aaron maybe you’re the one that needs to be educated. Firstly, the Japanese auto industry was doing better for more significant factors than the cost of production. Rather, GM was producing mediocre cars that did not at all compete with the fuel efficiency of the Japanese cars. But most importantly, your rant about the unions is incredibly misguided, by no means are American Auto workers in the lap of luxury. In fact those entitlements that the union gained are what makes America a developed and respected nation. Aaron, what you would be creating is a race to the bottom, all at the price of the working class. Following your argument, it is also reasonable for child labour to be brought back in because it would give GM a better bottom line.

      I can direct your education- this article gives the 5 reasons GM failed, and unions don’t appear once!

      While agree about Popeye being exploited by a faceless corporation that has no loyalty to the American people. I disagree the solution is to put everyone on a buck a hour to feed corporate greed. That’s not what America should be about.

      • Karen

        And Japanese auto workers are ALL Unionized.

    • Luke

      I’m glad they’re greatful we helped. I’m not sure many other companies would haave done this. Please don’t ruin this commercial or its purpose with trivial politics.

    • The million people whose jobs were saved don’t agree with you. As GM had the largest IPO in history–bigger than eBay’s or Google’s–this amount to a government investment, one that has paid off. GM has paid back the loan.

    • Ryoku89

      Well said, now they’re killing off the Cobalt for the awful looking Daewood Cruze.

      Fords getting back into shape and they’re selling off stuff like their private jets, I dunno what GM or Chryslers done to derserve further help.

  • David D. Duncan

    In reference to comments made by Robcat 2075, I remember that the three astronauts aboard Apollo 1 (including one of the Original 7, Gus Grissom) burned to death (or died from smoke inhalation) due to an electrical fire on the launch pad. What a horrible way to go.

    • Paul N

      True, but it wasn’t a failure during launch. It was during a system test which started an electrical fire in the capsule.

      Not trying to split hairs, as I also remember that terrible event, but what Robcat said is correct.

    • That wasn’t a rocket failure. Their rocket wasn’t even fueled or trying to take off when that happened. The rocket survived that fire intact.

      That first clip is not a movie of the fire inside the Apollo 1 capsule.

      Making any media is going to get complicated if we’re not only responsible for what we show, but for what people mistakenly worry that we’re showing even though we didn’t show anything like it.

  • Toonio

    Don’t know what enrages me the most: Exploiting a public domain clip of a beloved character as Popeye for the gain of a failed corporation. Or the cynicism of GM with a heartless thank you.

    Where was GM for all the families in despair in Detroit?

    • Gobo

      I’m sorry that you’re enraged by one of America’s largest companies thanking the American people for saving over a million domestic jobs by investing in them.

  • Total class.

  • very classy, even though i dont necessarily agree that they should’ve been bailed out.

  • What would have been even classier is giving some of that huge profit back to the American taxpayers. When investors give money to cover the operating costs of a company, it’s usually paid back in the form of dividends. But when taxpayers give money to cover the operating costs of a company, we just get a stupid ad? Thanks, GM.

    • Paul N

      Actually, dividends are not “usual,” many companies don’t pay them, but rather reinvest that money in their product line.

      What investors do get back from successful companies is an increase in their stock price, which pays off for the investor when the stock is sold. Such is the case with the government’s investment in GM.

  • david

    john tesh piano and popeye just don’t mix

  • Texas

    Getting up again to screw over the consumer and the environment. Guess Popeye was a bit of a litterbug with all those spinach cans…

    • Luke

      Guess you can’t please everyone.

  • Corey

    “We all fall down”

    Difference is, when us average citizens fall down, any expenses suffered comes out of our own hides.

    What a huge pat on their own backs, completely tasteless.

  • Mediocre commercial and as an American tax payer, totally unclassy. The classy thing to do would to not steal money from the American people in the first place.

    • Gobo

      No money was “stolen”. The bailout saved millions of jobs and was completely paid back to the American taxpayers. Classy commercial for classy reasons.

      • Cyber Fox

        completely paid back with a 2nd bailout ya mean

  • The Gee


    were the people who are complaining here expecting to get a check in the mail from GM? Or, at least a Lousy T-shirt?

    The government invested in the automakers. The government is being paid back. That’s part of the reason for the IPO: to raise money to pay back the billions loaned to the company. Chrysler is doing something similar though I haven’t heard if their solution is to do another IPO.

    I get the frustration being vented. There’s so much that is so wrong about what’s happened since late Summer of ’08…..But like someone mentioned, it would have been worse to have over a million people–who worked at GM plants, for GM parts makers, for other connected, support industries– losing their jobs and suddenly becoming situations which are more tragic to most people. So, keep in mind that there are a lot of human faces on this.

    As for the ad: it seems benign enough. Popeye, “Animal House”, sticktoitiveness….it adds up in a decent way.


    • Mike

      Ah, the People’s Republic of Government Motors. Mismanaging their way to socialism since 1908.

  • Classy indeed, and very touching.

    @Jerry: waht i really like is the piano song,any clue about it?

  • dingi

    “The US has never had a manned rocket fail on the pad.”
    Well actually only one (granted a pre-launch plugs-out test): Apollo 1 (Apollo/Saturn 204), January 1967 w/ Vergil “Gus” Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee.

    RIP sirs.