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Creative Brand Strategy Mastercard

My GM Rewards Card maps out new comedic path focused on ‘that new car smell’


By Webb Wright, NY Reporter

February 25, 2022 | 4 min read

In the past, marketing surrounding the My GM Rewards Card has taken 'a very heartfelt approach.' Now, the auto manufacturer is looking to target both our funny bone and olfactory sense.


Dirty socks even have that new car smell when you use the GM Rewards Card.

There’s nothing like “that new car smell.” That clean and sterile smell combined with the adrenaline and dopamine that come with a big ticket purchase is undeniable. General Motors is looking to leverage that powerful sense, as well as those feelings, to market its new My GM Rewards Card. The campaign's humor, compliments of MRM Detroit, is a creative departure for the card’s marketing strategy.

The new My GM Rewards Card — created in partnership with Marcus by Goldman Sachs and Mastercard — gives customers rewards after any purchase, which can ultimately go towards paying for a new GM vehicle. The inspiration for the new campaign is derived from the fact that My GM Rewards Card customers are getting a bit closer to a new GM vehicle with every purchase that they make. By extension, it’s almost as if each new purchase made with the My GM Rewards Card comes with “that new car smell,” a tantalizing sensory teaser of the big reward (a new car) that is awaiting down the road.

In two separate spots, we see three actors roaming around a household smelling almost everything that they can get their hands on. Since all of these household goods were purchased with the My GM Rewards Card, they’ve been magically imbued with that mysterious and intoxicating “new car smell.” Dirty socks, strawberries, a package of delivered food, even the interior of a garbage can — everything smells like the new car that the lead actor will ultimately be able to buy, if she only keeps using the card.

That comedic approach represents a new marketing strategy for the My GM Rewards Card, which up to this point has tended to pull on viewers’ heartstrings — its popular tagline is: “The most rewarding things in life are earned.” For the launch of this new campaign, GM says that it “decided to take a fresh and unique approach by introducing the credit card in a memorable way, using humor to captivate emotion and speaking to the joy in every moment as you earn toward a GM vehicle.”

Suzanne Johnson, marketing manager at My GM Rewards Card, says that the company decided to go out on a bit of a creative limb in order to grab consumers’ attention: “The card space is competitive,” says Johnson. “In the end, we knew we needed a bold concept to get people to pay attention and become aware of the incredible value proposition of our new card. And that meant pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones and trusting our instincts to go with work that would stand out.”

The spots for the new campaign were directed by Kim Nguyen, “a well-known female comedic director,” who has also worked on popular TV shows like “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” and “Fresh Off the Boat.”

Emphasizing GM's commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion was also essential to the effort. “This particular team happens to be led by a lot of passionate people who care deeply about equity and inclusion,” says Tiffany Moy-Miller, vice president group creative director at MRM. “So, when it came to finding the right director to deliver the right kind of humor, we all said Kim Nguyen is the one. And she came through beautifully. And, more importantly, authentically.”

The new campaign will debut on a number of media channels — including digital, linear TV, and social — on Feb. 21 and will continue to appear throughout the rest of 2022.

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