FourFourSeconds ago, Barry County, Kentucky, was a forgotten part of the American landscape.
A man named Bruce Jones was a pioneer in the American automotive industry, founding the company that would become General Motors.
Barry was his hometown.
And as Jones moved the company, he was building bridges across the divide.
But in 1997, he took the company private, paying just $25 million to buy it out of bankruptcy.
He didn’t just buy the company.
He transformed it.
The story of General Motors is one of the most important stories of American history.
It’s the story of America.
That’s the reason we created Ford and Chrysler.
When we were first getting started, it was just a dream.
We were looking for a vehicle.
We didn’t have a concept.
At the time, we were working on a sports car called the F-150.
In the meantime, the rest of the world was going through a crisis.
America was at war.
Every day there were news reports about the death of a soldier, the death or injuries of a loved one, or a terrible accident.
If you could get the American flag down the street in a small town, it meant that something was really going on.
As General Motors began to make its way through the Great Depression, the company found itself in the midst of a public relations crisis.
There were more people looking for employment.
To solve that problem, the public relations people began working for the company directly.
This created a great problem for Jones.
Jones’ job was to work with the public to create awareness.
Public relations, or PR, was when you tell people that something is bad.
So the public was told that a person was a bad guy.
They were told that he was a terrorist.
They knew he was in trouble.
Then Jones would tell the public that the man was a good guy.
What happened next?
What he did to create the “Barry” brand became a classic example of how to build a brand and how to be successful.
I’ll let Barry County historian, John W. McKeown, tell it: In 1999, General Motors purchased the company for $25.
John W. McDonald, the chairman of the board, had always been a big fan of the company and of Jones.
I knew John McDonald well from my days as an intern in the General Motors media department.
McDonald liked what Jones did.
I said to him, “You know, I’ve been watching you for years.
You know what I want to do now?”
He said, “Sure, why not?”
McCall, who was then the CEO of a big company, asked me, “Do you think it would be a good idea to build an ad campaign?”
I said, yes, that would be good.
McCall had the money, the marketing department, and the people to get this thing going.
And so he asked me to create an ad that would put the “barry” name on every Chevrolet or GMC pickup.
“The idea was to say, look, this is our hometown,” McDonald said.
How did the campaign come together?
McCook had a team of designers who would help make the campaign.
He had a few weeks to do it, and he came up with the concept.
And he brought it back to me.
It was an ad, and I told John McDonald, “What do you think?”
McDonald was very pleased with it.
I went back to the marketing people, and they said, what do you mean, “the campaign”?
They said, well, we’ve done a campaign.
I looked at them and said, no, it’s not the campaign we’re going to do, it’ll be a video.
McDonald said, okay, what about the ads that you guys have been doing?
I said,” well, I’m going to create a video, because the whole thing is a campaign.”
Then I said, how about the videos?
McDonald thought about it for a minute, and said yes, it would make sense to make a video that would look like a commercial, a commercial that’s like an advertisement.
And then he came back to us and said we have to have a team.
I told them, well you know what, let’s do it.
They started making the videos.
The campaign became a phenomenon, generating tens of millions of dollars in sales and creating a buzz.
McCarthy was so impressed with the success of the campaign that he asked McDonald to write a book.
His book, The Miracle, was released in 2008.
It’s all about how General Motors was so successful that its own salespeople began calling the company “Barrier.”
The book’s title, “The Miracle: