Pontiac. by Peter M. DeLorenzo April 25, 2007 When getting serious about GM's "too many models, too many divisions, too many dealers" conundrum, Pontiac all of a sudden stands out as a glaring example of what continues to ail GM. In the last seven years, Cadillac, Saturn, Chevrolet, Hummer and to lesser extent, Buick, have all gotten help in terms of product and marketing muscle within GM. Even Saab has gotten a little marketing boost. But in that same period, Pontiac buried the Aztek, thankfully got out of the minivan business, abandoned the Bonneville nameplate, launched the G6 and the Solstice, rebadged the Chevy Equinox calling it the Torrent, launched and killed the GTO, and carried the Vibe and Grand Prix. In this same period, Pontiac marketers have gone big for "hip" advertising-marketing opportunities of-the-moment, chasing anything that came along - whether it was worth a shit or not - in a desperate attempt to gain traction for the brand. And it hasn't worked. Pontiac sales in 2006 were down from 2005, and it's weak performance is starting to be a deep concern at GM. Will the new, rear-wheel-drive G8 be enough to get Pontiac back on track? I'm not so sure about that. Pontiac has been in the hands of the marketers for so long that the once fiercely proud brand has lost its way. The brand's original rebel persona within the GM family is virtually nonexistent, and without it, Pontiac is just another division. Yes, the G8 holds promise, but there's just no "buzz" around the brand on the street. And the street was where Pontiac thrived back in its heyday. Unless GM comes up with a leader for the Pontiac brand, someone who actually gets what the brand should be about, and throws enough money at it to move the needle and then some, I fear for its future. When all the talk swirled around which GM division would be "on the block" next after Bob Lutz' famous "damaged brands" comment from a couple of years ago at the NY auto show, I always thought it might be Buick, but now, Buick has a reason for being because of its hugely successful presence in China. As someone who worked on some of Pontiac's more memorable ad campaigns, to see the brand on the ropes now is just painful. Memo to GM: Do the Right Thing for Pontiac - or else just put it out of its misery. Another reason the division is on shaky ground? GM is investing a total of $3.2 billion in Daewoo Auto & Technology Co. in 2008-2009. Within GM's new "No. 2" empire, it's easy to see that funding priorities are skewed to the red-hot Pan-Asian markets. But where does this leave Pontiac in the scheme of things? The short answer? Flat broke and busted at the side of the road. Not good.