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 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 16, 2017

Honda Canada Utility Commercial: Image: Honda Canada/YouTube

Underneath its skin, the Honda Ridgeline is a significantly altered Honda Pilot, a large three-row utility vehicle related to the next-generation Honda Odyssey minivan. That’s hardly the stuff of which traditional, body-on-frame pickups are made.

But the Ridgeline has a separate, exposed bed, an elevated ride height, and competitive payload ratings. Therefore, it’s a pickup truck.

Or is it? In one recent Honda Canada commercial, the Ridgeline is portrayed alongside the HR-V, CR-V, and Pilot under the Honda Utility banner.

“Go where you wanna go,” The Mamas & the Papas sing, as a tree-lined bike trail appears with the CR-V in the HR-V’s rear seat, as a mountainside Pilot scene materializes in the CR-V’s cargo area, as the Ridgeline’s soccer setting unfolds from the Pilot’s third row.

Has Honda decided the Ridgeline is a sport-utility vehicle? A CUV? (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 8, 2017

Visual Clarity

Telling someone that you can run a car on hydrogen — a greenhouse gas — and emit clean water as the singular byproduct is already an extremely novel concept. You don’t need a laser light display or sideshow antics to make that fact more interesting or palatable. In the case of Honda, you absolutely do not need to include the disembodied heads of singing children bathed in light. In fact, the actual message might even become partially lost in the abyss of confusion you’ve created as people furrow their brows and wonder if someone has snuck a psychoactive drug into their beverage.

For reasons clearer to hired visual artist Adam Pesapane than myself, the 2017 Clarity Fuel Cell ad campaign uses a central theme of floating heads — frequently representing chemical compounds and molecular structures. The end result is as informative as it is unsettling, though it heavily favors the latter.

(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…)

By on February 2, 2017

Like it or not, advertising is a legitimate art form, studied and dissected just like its sculpture and literature forebears. As the high holy day of the medium approaches this weekend, I thought it appropriate that we discuss some of history’s greatest automotive advertisements.

And don’t worry, we will have a roundup of The Big Game’s best car-specific spots coming soon.

(Read More…)

By on December 11, 2016

Nissan Battle Tested Rogue Virtual Reality Star Wars

I despised all of the cross-promotion taking place between Nissan and Star Wars this fall, especially now that it has devolved into dealerships offering free worthless collectables to lure in prospective buyers. However, you have to admit that they did a phenomenal job implementing the campaign.

It was a perfect storm of coincidences that allowed this cooperative marketing strategy to emerge from Nissan’s womb. The Rogue shared a name with the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the timing of the film’s release roughly coincided with the model’s 2017 face-lift, and the automaker wanted to put a lot of money behind the advertising of its best-selling model.

Although it probably didn’t hurt that Nissan’s North America marketing chief, Jeremy Tucker, joined Nissan from Disney — the company that now owns Lucasfilm and Star Wars — in 2014.  (Read More…)

By on December 1, 2016

Mazda Dog

Mazda, which has seen its previously strong sales slip in Israel, feels the brand has developed a bum rap. Its once-exciting cars have become unworthy of praise in the Jewish republic — claims the company finds flagrantly objectionable.

So, rather than take the perceived abuse lying down, the automaker developed the “Prepare to be Amazed” campaign in response. Its essence isn’t that Mazda begs to differ with naysayers, but that the general public is simply wrong in its assumptions.

It’s the advertising equivalent of telling off the school bully while putting on a pair of sunglasses and moonwalking home. (Read More…)

By on November 29, 2016

Untitled

Do you remember the last Volvo commercial you saw? Or any Volvo commercial?

If the answer is “no,” you clearly haven’t seen the videos offered up by Volvo Trucks, which somehow manage to make 18-wheelers seem as alluring as a two-seat droptop. By staging stunts that compel viewers to seek out a heavy truck license, the company’s online videos have given the truck maker a strong media presence and plenty of word of mouth.

It’s too bad that Volvo Cars (long since snatched from under the Volvo Group corporate umbrella) can’t do the same thing. (Read More…)

By on November 15, 2016

Dodge Journey Canada screenshot - FCA Canada websiteIt was early 2014 when an Albertan car salesman drew my attention to a claim he noticed in commercials and promotional material from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Canada. The Dodge Journey, they said, was Canada’s No. 1 selling crossover.

It wasn’t. But at the time, FCA was using some hilariously inappropriate segmentation from R.L. Polk Canada, Inc. to support the claim.

FCA Canada’s more recent Journey-related claim uses altered language to make a similar-sounding statement. FCA calls the Journey, “Canada’s favourite crossover.”

The Dodge Journey is not Canada’s favourite crossover. The Dodge Journey never was Canada’s favourite crossover. Based on current trend lines, the Dodge Journey does not stand a chance of soon becoming Canada’s favourite crossover. (Read More…)

By on November 9, 2016

2017 Toyota Prius Prime

Toyota’s going to market the new Prius Prime with laser-like precision. Is it because they want to embrace cutting-edge advertising methods, or is it because they don’t see it as a vehicle with particularly broad appeal?

That, BMW thinks it might want to keep an unpopular model around for another generation, Volvo issues a voluntary recall on seat belts, and Toyota and Nissan agree that their prospects have looked better in North America… after the break!

(Read More…)

By on November 2, 2016

christopher-walken-adds-pizzazz-to-kia-motors-super-bowl-commercial-for-the-all-new-2016-optima-midsize-sedan-4357f5e2d2e092f6

Normally at this time of year, between Halloween and Thanksgiving, we start hearing about automakers’ television commercials for the upcoming Super Bowl. For decades, the National Football League’s championship game has been the marquee venue for car companies trying to make big impressions on consumers.

As Super Bowl ads became an item of interest all on their own, many automobile manufacturers have crafted entire campaigns around their commercials for the “big game”, with teaser ads leading up to the event and long form and other alternate versions released once the primary ads are broadcast on Super Sunday.

While it’s the highlight of American football, automakers from around the world pony up big bucks to display their wares before more than 100 million viewers. This year, though, with television ratings for the NFL in serious decline, it remains to be seen if the Super Bowl will continue to attract automakers’ advertising dollars, marks, pounds, lira, yen, yuan, and won. (Read More…)

By on October 22, 2016

Eleanor Mondale

It’s morning in America. Just before noon Eastern Time, actually.

If decades of Gallup polling is correct, and we’re inclined to believe it is, car salespeople and members of Congress have among the lowest reputations of any profession in the U.S. Surprised? Not likely. It’s probably why you never see politicians in car commercials, even if they’ll gladly lend their name to products like Pepsi and Viagra. We’re looking at you, Bob Dole.

That doesn’t mean the two worlds never mix. (Read More…)

By on October 12, 2016

BMW Films

Before Twitter and Facebook and all that other social media crap that complicates your life, BMW was hiring legendary (or noted) filmmakers to shoot a series of eight 10-minute short films.

The directors instilled their years of experience into the plot and cinematography of each spot, with big-name actors brought on for flashy star power. Perhaps the last time Madonna was relevant was in one of these flicks. (It was directed by Guy Ritchie — when he was last relevant, too. —Mark) And all of this happened before YouTube! Can you believe how much you’ve aged?

Well, BMW Films is back, and it’s packing a Brit. (Read More…)

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Seth Parks, United States
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Kyree Williams, United States