Category: Advertising

By on July 27, 2017

lyft press kit photo, Image: Lyft

Taco Bell and ride-hail company Lyft announced plans this week to debut “a unique ride-thru” experience called “Taco Mode,” which will allow patrons to request a pit stop at the nearest Taco Bell location. Lyft claims it’s the perfect option for “passengers seeking the ultimate Taco Bell experience.”

While riders can already request to be driven to the restaurant with some of the worst-maintained bathrooms imaginable, Lyft promises the app makes the overall endeavor of  buying fast food “more convenient — and fun — than ever.”

Why would these companies join forces? According to the press release, it’s because they “are two like-minded brands at the forefront of technology and innovation.” Don’t laugh. After all, Taco Bell was the company that realized you could make a taco shell out of fried chicken, while Lyft was the organization that took Uber’s business model and added furry pink mustaches.

They also both serve the late-night community. The restaurant chain provides a “fourth meal” to individuals that are too drunk or stoned to cook and the ride-hailing service keeps them from endangering others by stopping them from operating a motor vehicle. On the surface, it seems like a natural fit for a genius cross-marketing opportunity — until you place yourself into the shoes of the driver plighted to slop these disgusting animals in the backseat.  Read More >

By on June 9, 2017

facebook mobile phone, public domain

Facebook isn’t just a hotbed of meaningless virtue signaling, thinly veiled racism, political rants, and overly serious arguments with people you haven’t seen in several years. It’s also a great place for advertisers to spend their money — at least, that’s what the platform wants automobile manufacturers to believe. The social media site is trying to establish closer ties with the industry, and went so far as to send COO Sheryl Sandberg to Detroit to host the first Facebook Automotive Summit in five years.

However, if you’re anything like me, your feed is probably already clogged up with car ads. This morning’s limited browsing yielded placements for Jaguar and Genesis before asking me when I last drove a Hyundai. Facebook thinks it can do more, targeting the subset of its 2 billion users which could benefit automakers the most. While the website has stepped up its game, future ad investments will still suffer from runoff to zero-engagement click farms in countries like India, Egypt, and Brazil.

A large company might deem those losses acceptable, but does it really matter when so few people buy new cars online?  Read More >

By on June 6, 2017

2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD, Image: General Motors

Like a rolling stone. Like a rock. Like a G6 (not the Pontiac version). There are many descriptors out there, but GMC feels nothing fits its owners quite like “pro.” The trucks are still Professional Grade (TM), but advertisements are supposed to be all about us, about we, about me.

And so, GMC plans to embark on an advertising campaign calling its owners just that. The all-utility brand’s “Like A Pro” campaign kicks off this month, with a number of tailored TV and online spots showcasing “those who reach higher in everything they do,” according to the automaker.

Marketing efforts are fraught with peril, so no ad counts as a slam dunk until the public gives it a resounding thumbs up or, alternatively, mocks it out of existence. Let’s take a closer look at one of these spots. Read More >

By on May 19, 2017

tom brady aston

The notion of American football being included in a non-pickup automotive advertisement is already ridiculous. I have nothing against the NFL personally. It has an exceptionally broad appeal, but it evokes a sort of blue-collar stars and stripes forever type of pride that makes it a superb platform to promote army recruitment and Ford’s F-150.

So, when I found out that Aston Martin — one of the most sophisticated brands in history — was making Tom Brady the face of its next advertising campaign, I was understandably upset. Not quite catching your girlfriend in the backseat of a Kia with your best friend upset, more like your dad telling you he’s starting an emo band upset. There’s an overwhelming sense of confusion and a pressing urge to do everything in your power to stop it from happening, because you know it’s all an egregious mistake and feel that — deep down — they must realize it, too.  Read More >

By on May 10, 2017

ff91

We’re not going to recap all of Faraday Future’s staffing issues, financial hurdles, or uncouth business practices. If you’ve visited this website within the last year, you already know the company has some serious problems to overcome.

Despite these hardships, Faraday remains convinced it’ll resume construction at its stalled factory site in Nevada and someday bring the FF91 to market. However, we haven’t seen much of the EV since the debut of the beta version at CES in January — and it was beginning to look like we never would.

Then, without much fanfare, a video of the electric crossover surfaced on the company’s YouTube page on Monday. The new video shows a decidedly less beta-looking vehicle than Faraday has previewed in the past. That doesn’t mean this is a production car, but it does seem to show what one might look like if FF can weather the storm.  Read More >

By on May 6, 2017

chevrolet real people

Not since “the Caddy that zigs” has a General Motors marketing campaign spurred so many jokes among the automotive punditry and public alike. GM’s much-lampooned “Real People, Not Actors” commercials have become the target of spoof videos mimicking the often eye-rolling exploits of ordinary human beings mistaking Chevrolet Cruze and Malibu models for taut, European luxury sedans. Expect more of those.

Despite the comedic backlash, General Motors claims it has no plans to back down from the ads, ensuring more spoof fodder for years to come. Read More >

By on May 4, 2017

Jeep Compass ad

The only thing missing is Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way bleating from the speakers, but songs from 1977 often don’t play well with those born after 1980. (Or 1982, depending on your source.) Slow, maudlin hipster “rock,” if you can call it that, is how you reel in those youngsters these days.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, knowing exactly what it wants the second-generation Jeep Compass to mean to the most sought-after segment of car buyers, is placing its sales pitch to scruffy Millennials in a new ad campaign.

As Millennial automotive marketing is usually a cringe-inducing affair, each new product launch and ad campaign targeting this generation sparks morbid interest in cynical observers. Hence, this post. Read More >

By on May 3, 2017

Ford EcoSport guardians of the galaxy ad

Advertising isn’t designed to help you make an informed purchasing decision. While some auto ads occasionally cherry pick information to highlight a vehicle’s strengths, you see this tactic employed less and less lately. Pathos-driving advertising sometimes results in innocuous gems, like Subaru’s “Dog Approved” campaign. However, there has been an obnoxious trend where cars, which are presumably for adults, are being marketed as if they are children’s toys.

One of the worst offenders of this phenomenon was Nissan. It tied the Rogue to the Star Wars franchise as much as possible — issuing television spots set in a galaxy far, far away, a special movie edition variant of the vehicle, crossover swag, and even a car modeled to look like an X-wing to display at trade events. It potentially worked, too — Rogue sales skyrocketed.

Taking notice, Ford has similarly decided to link the upcoming EcoSport to the new Guardians of the Galaxy film. The Blue Oval is taking that concept a step further, however. Its downright egregious marketing campaign feels like it belongs in the ad space reserved for Saturday morning cartoons, circa 1992, right next to a sugary breakfast cereal with a cartoon mascot. Ford has sweepstakes, comic books and a film cameo planned. Read More >

By on April 26, 2017

2017 Buick LaCrosse - Image: Buick

Native advertising is funny. Not because native advertising, the kind of marketing that appears as though it is the content of a specific publication aside from a disclaimer or two, shouldn’t exist. In a land of free speech, companies should be permitted to tell stories in just about any way they wish to do so.

No, native advertising humors me when it becomes obvious just how difficult it was for a company to strike the right balance. Honesty is key, or else credibility is lost. The Truth About Cars can’t say, “TTAC is the best automotive site on the internet with the best writers and the best design,” because it’s not believable.

On the other end of the spectrum, The Truth About Cars shouldn’t run an automotive website comparison test in which TTAC doesn’t win. “Golly, Jalopnik sure is some good car blog, and while we dun paid for this here piece of native advertising, we’re gonna give the victory to the Gawker folk.”

Somewhere in between is the proper blend, a blend for which Buick searched long and hard in a comparison test paid for by Buick in a Buick vs. Lexus comparison test for Automobile Magazine.

There are no secrets here. The article says “Sponsored Content” across the top. The author is listed as Buick.

The winner of the comparison test? Oh, you’ll never guess. Read More >

By on April 25, 2017

mazda cx-5

Mazda’s North American Operations has named Dino Bernacchi as its chief marketing officer, a position created specifically to aid the automaker in establishing itself as a premium brand.

The manufacturer has taken steps to ditch its economical heritage for nearly a year as it pushes upmarket. Model redesigns have followed a cohesive, sleek trend while the company zeroes in on a future “premium, pricey model” to secure its new identity.

Until then, image is everything for Mazda. The brand doesn’t seem interested in swapping over to a luxury-focused lineup or changing its production philosophy. While Mazda had what was arguably the most aesthetically appealing booth at the New York auto show (even if Porsche and Volvo had the better snacks), most of its vehicles still start below $25,000.  Read More >

By on April 19, 2017

BMW CPO commercial Toyota Camry screenshot - Image: YouTube screenshot

Call them frenemies. BMW and Toyota are working together on a high-profile sports car project that will result in a long-awaited Supra successor and a replacement for the Z4. Two heads are better than one.

“The concept works, the platform can deliver and now we have two proud sets of engineers — one group German, one group Japanese — who are each fighting and arguing for the car they want,” BMW sales boss Ian Robertson said last year.

The fighting and arguing extends beyond the R&D facilities in Munich and Toyota City.

On a mission to exalt its 3 Series in a certified pre-owned commercial, BMW sought to make fun of a typically bland midsize sedan. 2001 Chevrolet Malibu? 2006 Kia Optima? 2017 Subaru Legacy?

No. BMW chose the most basic, beige, new Toyota Camry to make a point on behalf of a bright red pre-owned 3 Series.

Hardly the work of a BFF. Read More >

By on March 22, 2017

Subaru STI bobsled

Most automotive advertising has little to nothing to do with the actual car. It’s usually about presenting an image or hawking brand identity and then loosely associating it with a vehicle — Mercedes’ current “Grow Up” campaign is a perfect, cringeworthy example. However, enthusiasts know that the best car ads feature incredible shenanigans and loads of life-or-death action.

Dave Chapelle mocked Mitsubishi for its pop-and-lock Eclipse spot, while Top Gear honored Land Rover for winching a Defender up the side of a dam. Keenly aware of this is Subaru, which, after sending Mark Higgins and a WRX STI around the Isle of Man TT course in 2014, brought both man and vehicle to the world’s oldest bobsled run in St. Moritz, Switzerland to record another automotive spectacle.

Unfortunately, Subaru is more than 50 years too late for this particular publicity stunt. Ford filmed an identical feature in the Italian Alps with the Cortina GT way back in 1964. It even named the car after the Cortina d’Ampezzo ski resort, where it later held the event. Subaru may be calling it “boxersledding” today, but it’s really just a rehash of Ford’s classic “auto-bobbing.”  Read More >

By on March 20, 2017

Volkswagen Car Sex Commercial Screenshot

Volkswagen USA released an advertisement on YouTube today entitled “Luv Bug,” and it uses the ever-popular growing family angle to appeal to the customer.

Click through to watch this interesting take on in-car entertainment, and see if you spot what’s wrong. Read More >

By on March 6, 2017

computer-mouse

The internet is infamous for suspect news stories and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate reputable information from propaganda, lies, and sensationalist garbage. Credible outlets take heat as #FakeNews while less stringent journalism continues to gain traction. The automotive industry is no different, especially when it comes to online marketing.

We’ve all been cruising the internet mindlessly and seen a suspicious headline for a new car paired with a blatantly fake image. I remember seeing photoshopped fifth generation Camaros purported to be “The Next Firebird” routinely for about a year before Pontiac finally passed away in 2010. While I knew it was bunk, I clicked anyway and compounded the problem. Sadly, things have not improved in the last few years.

Dealers and manufacturers are trying to figure out a way to ensure their products are better represented in the digital landscape — but they are struggling.  Read More >

By on February 6, 2017

Television Set

The “Big Game” is as much of a sporting event and as it is a tactical delivery system for advertisements and, at roughly $5 million just to reserve a thirty second slot, the folks working in the media department want their commercials to have a strategic impact. Reaching your intended audience is only half the battle. You must also provoke them into action.

While there were plenty of Super Bowl 51 car commercials that got under people’s skin, those strong feelings often failed to morph into consumer interest. For example, Ford’s mobility-focused spot featuring Nina Simone’s classic civil rights song I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free was all over social media when it aired right after kickoff. However, nobody sent me a surprised and excited text about Ford like they did for Alfa Romeo.  Read More >

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