Posted September 17, 2010 3:11 am by with 7 comments

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“This is OnStar, what is your emergency?”

“I just saw Britney Spears buying bananas at Ralphs and I have to tell everyone I’ve ever met.”

No. I’m not kidding. Sam Mancuso, general director of marketing for OnStar told Advertising Age this week that the company is beta-testing a feature that will allow drivers to update their Facebooks by voice while on the road. It’s part of a push to make the brand seem hipper and cooler and it includes a new slogan “Safely connecting you in ways you never thought possible.”

Mancuso stands behind the idea saying that people are going to update their Facebooks by texting while driving and that’s dangerous and illegal. With OnStar, they can do it safely while keeping both hands on the wheel. He also claims that if they find this new feature to be distracting and unsafe, they will discontinue it and they’ll be upfront about the mistake.

Once you build social connectivity into a car, the next step, as with mobile phones, is figuring out how to use it for marketing purposes. Mr Mancuso’s response to that:

“There are many things that are technically possible. Whether it becomes an advertising medium depends on what our customers desire and value.”

I can’t imagine customers ever desiring advertising piped into the car like canned elevator music, we have the radio for that. Maybe OnStar will start including ads with every emergency response. “The ambulance is on the way, Mr. Jones, and remember, for the aches and pains you’ll be suffering tomorrow, Tylenol is the number one pain reliever.”

As for advertising OnStar itself, Mancuso says the outlay on their new campaign will be “significant.” In addition to radio and TV advertising, they’ll be hitting Times Square and going the social media route.

OnStar now with Facebook! Brilliant move that will impact driver safety or a desperate attempt to capitalize on a trend? What do you think?

  • OK…I am 200% behind new innovation in the area of Social Media and Social Media Marketing; however, this one is way over the top…and potentially very dangerous.

    Regardless of whether you can do this with two hands on the wheel…people will become mentally distracted…and too much distraction leads to accidents. I suspect the Beta testing of this product will show some people thinking it is a great innovation. I also suspect safety advocates and insurance companies will view it as insane.

    I usually don’t categorize any age group when making a general statement; however, does anyone really want to be driving next to a carload of young inexperienced drivers as they are all trying to voice connect with their facebook page?

    The barometer should be based on distraction levels…Cell phones are one thing….but facebook? Thanks for the post.

    • Ally

      I’m going to agree with Go2Mach2 all the way.

      I can’t help but think of the ludicrous insurance campaigns that could arise should this notion catch on…

      “We understand that your social life is a priority and we respect that. Now with our new Social Media Protection Plan, you can find comfort in knowing that no matter what horrific accident your distracting habit may induce, you’re taken care of.”

      • Cynthia

        I think you’re right on with the Social Media Protection Plan – and will it cover the cost of my embarrassment when my friend posts that unbecoming photo of me and a certain guy I know. . .

  • This is ridiculous.

    Not much else to say.

  • Rob

    I enjoyed this artical,great read. But sounds like the norm,take a good thing and ruin it.

  • While those of us who have even a modicum of intelligence think this is a dangerous notion, we need to sadly acknowledge that there will probably be millions of people who find this new service quite useful. I then suspect that reports will start coming out about accidents caused by the idiots who do.

  • Hasmukh

    Every great inventions has to face some prior problems and this is also one of them. There might be the definite solution for such indicative issues and can be a great positive social media invention in order to react light speed quicker in emergencies. Hope for the new ear robust invention.