Category: Marketing

By on May 25, 2017

Vinay Shahani Toyota VP Marketing - Image: Toyota

Vinay Shahani, a former decade-long Nissan employee, has just been poached from Volkswagen of America by Toyota.

Shahani was Volkswagen’s U.S. vice president in charge of marketing, responsible for cementing a cohesive product message after the eruption of the now infamous diesel emissions scandal that broke in September 2015.

“Things are definitely difficult for the Volkswagen brand,” Shahani told the Automotive News New York Marketing Seminar one year after Volkswagen’s wrongdoing was made public.

Shahani’s perseverance through said difficulty obviously drew the attention of Toyota Motor North America, particularly since Shahani’s resume proves he’s no mere ad man. Read More >

By on May 23, 2017

JM Lexus Margate Florida - Image: Lexus.com

Half an hour from Fort Lauderdale, in Margate, Florida, sits JM Lexus, the highest-volume Lexus dealership in the United States.

Even by Lexus standards, where throughput is the best of any premium automaker operating in America, JM Lexus’ 8,000-unit new vehicle sales tally in 2016 was striking. That’s more than 150 new luxury cars, crossovers, and SUVs sold each week. That’s roughly six times the volume achieved by the typical Lexus dealer.

And JM Lexus, perennially the top Lexus dealer in America, does so as part of the Lexus Plus strategy: no negotiating, a single representative per customer, fixed prices for new and used cars as well as service fees and accessories.

Perhaps there’s a lesson to be learned by Lexus’ other dealers. For the time being, according to Automotive News, only 5 percent of Toyota’s premium brand stores operate under the Lexus Plus model. Read More >

By on May 10, 2017

Sales situation in a car dealership, the dealer is handing auto keys to a young couple, they are excited, cars standing in the background, Image: Kzenon/Bigstock.com

You’re all too familiar with that image, aren’t you? She’s laughing hysterically or having some sort of crisis.  Her male friend, hand outstretched to receive his car key, looks on in amazement at her awkward and overblown reaction within this sales situation. They are The Couple, and they are stock image gold.

Want more of them? You got it.

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 April 28, 2017

Peugeot 208, Image: PSA Group

When you’re hot, you’re hot. And when you’re the architect of a leasing promotion gone bad (by way of being too successful), you’re fired.

PSA Group reportedly canned its top German managers after a scorching lease deal on Peugeot 208 hatchbacks sent the country’s residents clamoring for wildly discounted French cars.

It wasn’t supposed to be that way. 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 24, 2017

2017 Civic Type R (European Version)

“Tested on the Nürburgring,” is just the latest eye-rolling claim to be adopted by automakers desperate to instill a new product with an air of sportiness.

“Nürburgring?!” being the anticipated reaction. “Well, the Germans aren’t going to let just any minivan on that track … ”

There’s much guilt to go around. Just as a Ram maintenance truck trundling down the runway at Edwards Air Force Base is not a space shuttle or F-35, running some laps on the famed circuit does not a supercar make. Still, the track’s allure persists, especially among marketing types.

Sometimes, an achievement crops up that makes the typing of “Nürburgring” an acceptable practice — specifically, the setting of a record. Read More >

By on April 20, 2017

Hyundai Santa Fe Antarctica

Northerners, and almost all Canadians, will tell you that starting your car in -28 Celsius (-18.4 Fahrenheit) weather is a drag, but at least it wasn’t colder that morning.

With this in mind, the temperatures experienced during an expedition to the South Pole in that continent’s high summer aren’t outside the realm of personal knowledge. A good many of us have gauged the frostiness of the outside air by the speed in which our nose hair freezes.

Still, Hyundai’s recent stunt, which put famed explorer Ernest Shackleton’s great-grandson behind the wheel of a modified Santa Fe Sport, impresses. It’s not solely the distance covered, the conditions experienced during the 3,600-mile crossing of Antarctica, or the mechanical feat of turning a pedestrian crossover into the most rugged of all-terrain vehicles. It’s the historical tie-in.

If you grew up reading — and re-reading — Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, you know what I mean. Hollywood writers could not have penned a better adventure, nor can any scientific-minded person believe that such a feat was even survivable. 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 April 7, 2017

Volvo Toy Car Grille

Last night, Volvo released a teaser video for a new vehicle it labeled as its “smallest coupe ever,” and I can’t help but feel that its marketing department dropped the ball on the timing.

The video introduces it as an ultra-modern, limited edition representative of a model specifically aimed at the next generation of consumers. Then, Volvo hinted that it might even be autonomous, and I assumed this was some wild concept vehicle never to enter production — but Volvo is already building it.

Of course, I felt like a moron when the big reveal finally came.  Read More >

By on April 6, 2017

IAA trade show

Frankfurt is the real deal when it comes to trade events. Germany’s International Motor Show is the oldest and, frequently, the largest exhibition of new vehicles and automotive engineering on the planet. However, some important automakers are deciding not to bother with it this year.

The event’s organizer, Germany’s VDA industry association, has confirmed that several automakers have cancelled on the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung in September 2017. While there will still be over 50 individual brands from Europe, Asia, and the United States, a few of the heavier hitters are following the trend of taking their marketing money off the floor and rerouting it back into digital advertising.  Read More >

By on March 23, 2017

Toyota Mirai Clean Billboard, [Image: Toyota North America]

Toyota is teaming up with Clear Channel Outdoor Americas to help clean California’s air with a billboard advertising its hydrogen-powered Mirai fuel cell sedan.

From April 3 to May 28, a total of 37 billboards in Los Angeles and San Francisco will filter smoggy air, thanks to the titanium dioxide-coated vinyl used in the sign.

While Toyota missed an opportunity to explicitly rub salt in a certain rival’s wounds, this is nonetheless a pleasant change of scenery in the automotive world, especially considering all of the Volkswagen emissions scandals of the past couple of years. Read More >

By on March 23, 2017

2018 Dodge Demon, [Image: Fiat chrysler Automotive]

The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon’s teasers continue, with this week’s spot showing yet another way the Demon will launch like a bat out of… well, hell.

The new Demon will sport a new feature that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles calls TransBrake. According to the automaker, TransBrake does exactly what it says: locks the output shaft of the automatic transmission to keep the vehicle stationary until launch.

Apparently, it does its job well.

Read More >

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