Thanks for Your Service, Mr. Goodwrench


First it was bye-bye, Oldsmobile. Then General Motors deep-sixed the Saturn, Saab, Pontiac and Hummer brands as part of its cataclysmic government bailout last year.

And now, GM is kicking one more old friend to the curb: Mr. Goodwrench. As of early next year, the brand personification of GM service using “only genuine GM parts” will be gone from the U.S. automotive landscape, though Mr. G will maintain his residence north of the border in the Canadian market.

Sentimentality aside, the move makes sense if you’re Joel Ewanick, CMO of GM since spring. Ewanick has been doing everything he can to get consumers, and his colleagues, to focus on the company’s four vehicle brands – Cadillac, Chevrolet, Buick and GMC – and nothing else.

GM’s fine care at the dealership level will now be rebadged as “Certified Service” under the name of each of those surviving brands. The change “is a natural extension of the customer’s vehicle purchase experience at the dealership,” said Steve Hill, GM’s vice president and general manager of Customer Care and Aftersales, in a statement.[more]

It will be interesting to see whether GM’s Big Three counterparts follow suit with their own service brands: Ford’s Motorcraft parts and Chrysler’s Mopar. (Hello, is Joe Mopar there? I need to talk about my timing belt.) Clearly neither of those monikers ever has been personified as the service technician per se, or so closely linked to the quality of the experience as Mr. Goodwrench has been.

The brand was launched in 1974 and was changed to Goodwrench Service Plus in the Nineties. As recently as 2007, Goodwrench was still a sponsor of NASCAR racing.
But don’t expect the same fate to befall GM’s other well known, corporate-wide non-vehicle brand, OnStar. With on-board infotainment technology occupying a more and more important place in the overall market and in the perceptions and desires of auto buyers, it’s safe to say OnStar will be the exception that proves the Ewanick rule.