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 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 March 27, 2017

Porsche - Kills Bugs Fast

Last week, Jack opined it’s high time a certain American nameplate needs to start leading itself with marketing — brash, notice-it-even-if-you-don’t-want-to marketing — instead of by the short leash provided when one tries engineering their way into the hearts and wallets of American consumers.

Never one to pass up a chance to dive down the rabbit hole of automotive marketing, it didn’t take long for my browser history to be clogged with search terms, finding great car ads I remember from when, as a kid, my grubby little hands would anticipate the arrival of a new car magazine.

(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 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…)

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