Posted by Dale Buss on May 19, 2011 12:00 PM
China has become a crucial growth market to General Motors, and its sales there are skyrocketing. But the company’s increasing dependence on the still-Communist-ruled state for new sales can create some discomfiting moments.
One of them will come on June 15, when a new “documentary” whose English title translates to The Birth of a Party, will premiere in China – with sponsorship by GM China, which is GM’s Shanghai-based automotive joint venture.
China may have become a bare-knuckled capitalist giant, but the Communist Party in charge believed it was time to produce a propaganda film celebrating the 90th anniversary of the nation’s rebirth as a socialist political entity.
Now, it’s one thing for GM to have accepted a bailout from the U.S. government. But it’s quite another thing to put its significant brand imprimatur in any way on the glorious revolution that yielded, among other things, the atrocities of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
“Sponsorship was an independent decision by Shanghai GM,” referring to the 50/50 joint venture between GM and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., a major Chinese government-owned automaker, a GM spokesman told brandchannel. “It’s part of a major strategic alignment with film industries similar to alliances made by other companies in China.”
But are GM executives uncomfortable with the arrangement that apparently was made for them by their joint venture partner without clearing it with GM's corporate execs in Detroit? The spokesman declined to elaborate.
While GM China — which is developing unique auto brands for China such as Baojun — is making strides for corporate citizenship, recently winning two corporate social responsibility awards, it may not have expected its cultural sponsorship would smack of the Cultural Revolution.
(Photo: GM China's Harbin plant opening this week.)