Category: Marketing

By on September 22, 2017

2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross - Image: MitsubishiBetween its peak in 2002 and the depths of the recession in 2009, Mitsubishi’s U.S. sales plunged 84 percent. Market share plunged from more than 2 percent to less than half of 1 percent. Could the company survive in America?

The loss of product gave observers even more reason to doubt the brand’s staying power. Bigger SUVs such as the Montero and Endeavor disappeared. Mitsubishi’s midsize sedan, the Galant, generated its final sales in early 2014, a decade after the Mitsubishi Diamante departed. The discontinuation of the Eclipse and Lancer Evolution spelled the end of Mitsubishi’s performance bona fides. Then Mitsubishi also ended the Lancer, leaving the Mirage G4 to fight America’s sedan battle.

Meanwhile, Mitsubishi’s plans to bolster its U.S. lineup haven’t always translated to reality. The Outlander plug-in hybrid was initially bound for the U.S. market in 2014 or 2015 — it’s still not here. As for U.S. production, which Mitsubishi’s president Osamu Masuko said in 2013 would not end, the final U.S.-built Mitsubishi rolled off the Illinois line last year.

Despite the heavy load of evidence that would support the belief that Mitsubishi Motors USA was on its death bed, Mitsubishi is on track in 2017 to sell 100,000 vehicles in the U.S. for the first time since 2007, having enjoyed five consecutive years of growth. Settling in for the long haul, Mitsubishi has also signed Mini’s old ad agency, Butler Shine Stern & Partners. Read More >

By on September 3, 2017

Chevrolet El Camino 1966

While there are dealerships that will happily service your vintage automobile, there are reasons a lot of classic cars are wrenched at home or taken to speciality shops. It’s not typically in a service center’s best interest to hunt down rare discontinued parts and train employees on the reassembly of carburetors. But it still happens, especially among premium brands.

Porsche is rather obsessive about its heritage and has extended that to maintenance and repairs at a large number of stores. It isn’t alone, either. Mark Rogers, a 20 Group consultant with the National Automobile Dealers Association, estimates as many as 1,800 U.S. franchised dealerships are willing to service vintage cars. Some are even selling them — putting desirable classics on the showroom floor in the hopes they might garner positive attention.  Read More >

By on September 3, 2017

Subaru Dog Ad

Automotive advertising has always been an amalgamation of information and hype. Carmakers use commercials to inform the public of what makes their model different and new, while simultaneously promising an intangible goodness. Mid-century ads were less specific, reassuring prospective customers of a nondescript better way of life, but modern marketing has become much more focused. If ads are to be believed, buying a car today means purchasing more than just the hardware its comprised of — you’re buying an identity.

I’m reminded of a collection of car commercials from the 1960s that essentially vowed to nerds that, if they bought a specific car, they would be pursued endlessly by attractive women. It was a bold and extremely unsubtle way to kick off the new trend.

We’ve come a long way evolved slightly since then, but the concept of identity-focused advertising is more popular than ever. In fact, Subaru attributes a large portion of its own success to marketing that closely associates the brand with good values, family, lovable mutts, and the great outdoorsRead More >

By on September 1, 2017

2018 Toyota Camry SE and 2016 Toyota Camry SE - Images: ToyotaThe 2018 Toyota Camry is the first truly, completely, all-new Toyota Camry since 2002. Built on Toyota’s New Global Architecture, it’s stiffer, safer, and by all accounts, substantially better to drive than the 2017.

Fuel efficiency took a leap forward. Horsepower did, too. The feature count, including the safety department, was elevated. The 2018 Toyota Camry even has a sense of style, whether you like its sense or prefer less offensive past examples.

With an all-new architecture for an in-demand car — yes, even as sedans slow, the Camry is still the 15-time best-selling car in America — comes a lack of willingness on the part of Toyota to deal. That’s made all the more true by the current cost of importing Camrys. While production will eventually be in full swing at the Camry’s Georgetown, Kentucky, assembly plant, early copies of the 2018 Camry hail from Japan.

Rare will be the buyer who heads into a U.S. Toyota store this Labor Day weekend with a strong preference for the old Camry, still available in abundance on dealer lots. Even with concerns (albeit modest concerns; this is a Camry) regarding first-model-year reliability, the MY2018 Camry is the bright and shiny object.

The 2018 Toyota Camry is better than the 2017 Toyota Camry: objectively, subjectively, on paper, on the road. But is it 41-percent better? Read More >

By on August 30, 2017

2017 Ford Fiesta Vignale - Image: FordRemember Antonella?

Antonella was a 28-year-old Italian, living in the heart of Rome in the latter part of the last decade, who needed a nimble and stylish Ford.

Antonella has changed. Antonella has more money. She no longer lives with her parents. She has, say it politely, aged, though she’s “still very expressive,” Ford of Europe’s design boss George Saridakis tells Automotive News Europe. Since Antonella changed, the Ford Fiesta for which she was created (or vice versa) has also changed. Ford of Europe now hopes 10 percent of Europe’s Antonellas will choose the upmarket Fiesta Vignale.

What about Antonella’s cousin, Amy in Cleveland? Ford probably hopes she’ll buy a 2018 EcoSport. But if we’re going to be honest about Amy (a TTAC creation), we all know Ford’s inadvertently pulling her into the leftover 2017 Escape she’s been eyeing, the one with a $2,500 discount and interest-free financing over 84 months. Read More >

By on August 29, 2017

2017 Mercedes-Benz C350e luxury grille - Image: Mercedes-BenzThrough the 2017 model year, Americans in search of a traditional entry luxury sedan could spend $350 to swap the Mercedes-Benz C-Class’s badge-emblazoned grille for an old classic.

Three horizontal bars, one vertical support, no badge.

The “Luxury” grille was also accompanied by unique bumper treatment and softer suspension.

But how were you to advertise the fact that you were, in fact, driving a Mercedes-Benz? There was a three-pointed star perched on top, a hood ornament in automotive parlance.

Unfortunately, the C-Class hood ornament that harkened back to a more elegant era has gone the way of crank windows.  Read More >

By on August 23, 2017

lexus-parking-airport,Image: CBC News

We’re all familiar with the concept of executive parking spaces, and surely most of us know someone with a sign hanging in their garage that reads “Mopar Parking Only.” Both are annoying concepts highlighting one person’s perceived superiority over another but without any real consequences. After all, it’s not as if they’re stealing someone else’s space.

Thinking it might be a good idea to combine these two scenarios as part of a marketing ploy, Lexus teamed up with the Calgary Airport Authority to convert five primo parking spots into branded spaces. However, the locations they ended up replacing were designed for handicapped patrons. While that understandably didn’t go over well with travelers, you have to admit there is a certain level of prestige associated with displacing people who actually need something just because you want it for yourself.  Read More >

By on August 10, 2017

2017 Volvo XC90 Excellence - Image: VolvoIn anticipation of a welcoming party for 2018 models, non-Volvo luxury car owners are currently eligible for a discount valued at $23,500 on a handful of remaining copies of the 2017 Volvo XC90 T8 Excellence.

There’s only one problem. The Volvo XC90 T8 Excellence is not exactly the most affordable member of the second-generation XC90 lineup. In fact, the T8 Excellence is the most expensive XC90 in America — by a wide margin. While the XC90 range opens at $46,745 for a five-seat front-wheel-drive variant, the T8 Hybrid turns on the lights with 400-horsepower for $69,895. Bump up another couple of trim levels and you’ll find yourself at the — let me clear my throat — $105,895 XC90 T8 Excellence.

Yet the $20,000 bonus Volvo is paying to dealers for XC90s in T8 Excellence trim means the laughably high $105,895 price — $1,005 more than a Land Rover Range Rover Supercharged — and a $3,500 conquest bonus drops the $105,895 XC90 T8 Excellence way down to $82,395.

It also means you lay hold on what CarsDirect’s Alex Bernstein says is, “the single largest discount on any vehicle at the moment.” Read More >

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 July 20, 2017

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid (left) and Chrysler Pacifica (right) - Image: FCA

It’s a fact that California contains half of the country’s electric vehicles and a solid chunk of America’s hybrids, but that doesn’t necessarily mean residents of the other 49 states can’t tell a plug-in hybrid from a turnip.

As all-electric range grows, plug-in hybrids have begun eclipsing conventional hybrids in the U.S. marketplace, enticing buyers with the prospect of leaving the gas engine shut off (potentially) for the whole commute. After hopping on the green bandwagon with its Pacifica Hybrid, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was able to boast of having the only plug-in minivan in North America.

Only, it won’t boast about the “plug-in” part anywhere except California. Nope, you won’t hear the company call it a plug-in in New York City, or Seattle, or Chicago. Not in Vermont or Georgia, either. Apparently those people just can’t handle it. Read More >

By on July 20, 2017

BMW Ian Roberts - Image: BMWAfter a near decade-long run at the helm of BMW Group’s sales and marketing department, Ian Robertson is retiring.

Taking over from the Englishman Robertson will be Pieter Nota, a Netherlands native who is anything but representative of the BMW establishment, every inch not automotive industry insider. Nota comes from Royal Philips, where you buy your electric razors, and formerly worked at Beiersdorf (where you buy your Nivea moisturizer) and Unilever, which fills your grocery store shelves with Axe, Hellmann’s, Ben & Jerry’s, and Dove.

I can’t believe it’s not butter a board member. Read More >

By on July 17, 2017

Ernie and Bert Sesame Street, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles/YouTube

Get to know me, even just a little, and you’ll quickly discover my seething hatred for the inexplicably popular and mercilessly long-running sitcom, The Big Bang Theory. Given the chance, I’d banish the writers, producers and male cast to the barren wastes of Siberia, where the overpaid hacks could atone for their sins (and remain quiet) while braving the frigid winds in search of nutrient-rich mosses and lichens.

Maybe it’s the death of the sitcom that brought us to this point. Raised on the terrific sitcoms (and some guilty also-rans) of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, my childhood television experience was abundance in diversity. Still, despite my love for cars and guns and the like, my TV starting point, like that of so many others, was Sesame Street. America’s social barometer, it was, and continues to be.

Like now, strong options loomed large in little Steph’s brain. Never cared for Big Bird. Too big. Dull in conversation. Grover? Who is Grover really supposed to be? And frankly, I wouldn’t leave any child of mine alone with Elmo.

Still, certain characters hold a special place in my dark, shrivelled heart. Until, that is, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles got its hands on their innocent, soft upper halves. Read More >

By on July 11, 2017

GM Real People Not Actors Silverado ad screenshot - Image: Chevrolet YouTubeWith the July 10 launch of a new Chevrolet Silverado commercial, General Motors is once again using its Real People, Not Actors campaign in an attempt to tarnish the Ford F-150’s good name.

This methodology doesn’t appear to have had an impact in the marketplace in the past. Yet two years after General Motors displayed conversations between Howie Long and GM engineer Eric Stanczak discussing repair costs on the Ford F-150’s aluminum bed and one year after Chevrolet punctured a Ford F-150’s aluminum bed with 825 pounds of concrete blocks, General Motors is turning to admitted Ford F-150 owners as a means of casting aspersions on America’s top-selling full-size truck.

After earlier rounds, Ford gained ground in America’s full-size pickup truck market in 2016. Indeed, Ford is continuing to gain ground in that same market in 2017. Ford is selling more trucks than its rivals. Ford is selling more trucks with less incentivization. Ford is selling more trucks with less incentivization at higher average transaction prices.

So, GM sends the Chevrolet Silverado back to the same ol’ well. Read More >

By on July 6, 2017

Chevrolet Silverado purchase GM dealer - Image: GMALG says new vehicle prices averaged $32,900 in June 2017, up 2 percent from last year and a record high for the month of June.

Yet month after month, for six consecutive months to begin 2017, automakers are witnessing fewer and fewer buyers walking into dealers after sales shot to record levels in calendar year 2016.

Incentives, at $3,550 per car, are an effective lure. But that doesn’t change the fact that buyers are paying, on average, $33,000 and borrowing, according to Edmunds, $31,000 in order to finance a purchase.

How do car buyers afford the highest prices on record? By stretching the payment period to the longest terms ever: 69.3 months in June, Edmunds says. Read More >

By on June 28, 2017

INFINITI and Stephen Curry announce global partnership - Image: InfinitiIn the world of celebrity pitchmen, there’s a big leap between, oh, Jared Fogle at Subway, for example, and Andy Murray at Jaguar.

In the world of basketball’s best, there’s less of a gap between LeBron James and Stephen Curry.

Now combine the world of celebrity pitchmen with the world of NBA superstars. LeBron James quite famously falls under the Kia umbrella.

But what automaker wouldn’t want the best player on the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors? Steph Curry, Nissan’s premium division announced today, is the new global ambassador at Infiniti. Read More >

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