The Truth About Cars » advertising http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 30 Aug 2015 23:20:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » advertising http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Car Buying: Is That New Car Price Too Good to Be True? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/new-car-price-good-true/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/new-car-price-good-true/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 15:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1132025 Price is the deciding factor in many new car purchases, so it’s no surprise that dealerships do all they can to advertise the lowest number possible. While the internet has given consumers a lot of power when it comes to purchasing a new car, many consumers still fall for age-old pricing tricks. One of the easiest […]

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Price is the deciding factor in many new car purchases, so it’s no surprise that dealerships do all they can to advertise the lowest number possible. While the internet has given consumers a lot of power when it comes to purchasing a new car, many consumers still fall for age-old pricing tricks.

One of the easiest ways to reel people into a dealership is to set up an advertisement for a decently optioned popular car at a sale price significantly lower than MSRP. This advertisement will usually be the lowest in the geographic area and would cause a loss for the dealership if sold. The way that deceptive dealers get around honoring the advertised price is by specifying a single stock number that qualifies and then asking a friend or relative to put a deposit on that specific vehicle as soon as the advertisement goes up online or in print.

Since the specific vehicle is technically still in dealer inventory, they can continue to advertise it. However, once a potential customer shows up, they can tell them that it is no longer available due to the pending deposit. The next step is to try and switch the customer to a similar vehicle on the lot and sell it to them at a higher price. The best way to check for this type of deceptive advertising is to offer a deposit on the vehicle before you step on the lot. If the dealer refuses to take the deposit and asks you to come in and discuss, the vehicle is most likely not available.

The website popup coupon is another practice to make the customer think they are getting a deal, but in reality only serves the dealer as a lead generation tool. In most cases, a potential customer will receive a popup while on the dealer’s website offering a few hundred dollars off their purchase if they fill out their information for a coupon voucher. Once they fill out the information, it gets transferred to the dealer as a lead and generates a voucher for the potential customer. These vouchers usually have some fine print which states that it must be presented at the beginning of the transaction in order to be valid. This caveat allows the salesman to build the savings from the voucher into the price quote so that the customer believes that they are getting a better price.

Another favorite for many dealers is to advertise a vehicle online with all incentives and rebates combined. These dealers will show a very low price but will list a disclaimer that you must qualify for all rebates and incentives and have excellent credit in order to qualify. While this may seem attainable in theory, it usually requires someone to have an odd combination of qualifications that might include being a retired veteran that graduated from college in the past six months, who insures their vehicles with USAA, and is trading in a competing vehicle on the last Tuesday of the month.

Options are another easy avenue for dealers to bring additional profit. Dealers will advertise a vehicle for a low price but will include a disclaimer that dealer installed options are not included in the price shown. Once you show up on the lot, they tell you that they will sell you that pickup for a lower price but will need to add a few charges since they have already installed a $1,000 bedliner, added $200 worth of nitrogen fill to the tires, sprayed on $400 worth of undercoating, and tinted the windows for $300. These options cost the dealer pennies on the dollar, but since they are already installed the dealer can push for you to pay the higher price once you are in front of them.

The only somewhat honest version of these advertising tactics involves the use of “loss leader” vehicles. These vehicles are usually unwanted models that are missing important features or have odd colors. These models are listed at cost or lower in order to bring customers to the lot and generate buzz. The dealer hopes that once the customer comes to the lot and sees that the vehicle has manual crank windows and is missing air conditioning that they will ask to step up to the next trim level and buy a more expensive version. The dealers will pressure you to go for the higher priced model so that they can make money, but will actually sell you the loss leader at the advertised price if you push for it.

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TrueCar Involved In “Deceptive Business Practices” Says Lawsuit http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/truecar-involved-in-deceptive-business-practices-says-lawsuit/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/truecar-involved-in-deceptive-business-practices-says-lawsuit/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 17:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1131417 A lawsuit brought forward by a group of 100 auto dealerships are alleging car-buying service TrueCar of “deceptive business practices”, reports Automotive News. The lawsuit claims TrueCar’s advertising, which proclaims transparency in vehicle transaction prices for customers, does not disclose the $299 and $399 dollar fees that are paid by dealers for new and used car […]

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A lawsuit brought forward by a group of 100 auto dealerships are alleging car-buying service TrueCar of “deceptive business practices”, reports Automotive News.

The lawsuit claims TrueCar’s advertising, which proclaims transparency in vehicle transaction prices for customers, does not disclose the $299 and $399 dollar fees that are paid by dealers for new and used car sales brokered by TrueCar.

The meaning of “transparency” for TrueCar has been brought to question at TTAC before, as has TrueCar’s use of personal data collected on buyers by participating dealers who must provide said data to TrueCar as a condition of receiving high-quality leads. This data access was reported to be the main reason for a split between TrueCar and dealer group AutoNation.

The group of dealers who’ve launched this latest lawsuit say failure to disclose the fees violates California law as those fees are typically bundled into the final transaction price of the vehicle and passed on to the customer.

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Smart Decides Cursing Children Are Hilarious, Clever [Video] http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/smart-decides-cursing-children-hilarious-clever/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/smart-decides-cursing-children-hilarious-clever/#comments Wed, 08 Jul 2015 22:00:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1111105 Ahead of its new Fortwo and Forfour models, Smart is releasing an advertisement destined to live only on the Internet. The ad — titled “Swearing Kids” — is completely self-explanatory and accurate. It is wholly uncensored and mostly funny and full of naughty language that’s definitely Not Smart For Work. Like anyone with children will […]

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Smart advertisement

Ahead of its new Fortwo and Forfour models, Smart is releasing an advertisement destined to live only on the Internet.

The ad — titled “Swearing Kids” — is completely self-explanatory and accurate. It is wholly uncensored and mostly funny and full of naughty language that’s definitely Not Smart For Work.

Like anyone with children will tell you, kids have a habit of picking up foul language from parents and repeating it at the most inopportune times.

George Carlin can’t be too proud, though, as the purveyor of micro cars only covered just two of his seven dirty words.

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Project CARS, Just Like Many Real Cars, Can’t Match The Media Hype http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/project-cars-just-like-many-real-cars-cant-match-media-hype/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/project-cars-just-like-many-real-cars-cant-match-media-hype/#comments Fri, 08 May 2015 12:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1063937 Project CARS is probably the most hotly-anticipated automobile-related video game to “drop” in the past few years. It’s ridden a positively Kanagawan wave of media hype and compensated “viral” marketing to its release – but at least one well-informed source is saying that this new emperor is decidedly trouserless. The site is called Pretend Race […]

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Project CARS is probably the most hotly-anticipated automobile-related video game to “drop” in the past few years. It’s ridden a positively Kanagawan wave of media hype and compensated “viral” marketing to its release – but at least one well-informed source is saying that this new emperor is decidedly trouserless.

The site is called Pretend Race Cars and although its “Community Assisted Review” of Project CARS is well into TL;DR territory for all but the most committed, here’s the money shot:

I don’t know what to say, other than we told you so. It sucks that a large portion of the community was turned into viral marketers for a game described as “middle-of-the-road” and playing with a traditional controller “borders on impossible.” We pointed out the abundance of bugs mentioned in the WMD forums several times. We pointed out the internal discussions of poor controls. We had others confirm performance issues. We called the lackluster driving physics and shoddy AI. It’s a flop, guys.

If you’ve followed the so-called “GamerGate” controversy over the past months, you already know that gaming journalism is under precisely the same sort of close community scrutiny that is applied to the autojourno biz only once in a while, and that the results of that scrutiny have been disturbing to say the least. It’s been shown that the vast majority of new products aimed at the “gamer” market are reviewed by people who have nontrivial reasons for promoting many of those products and ensuring their success, and that those reviewers are often actively hostile to, or contemptuous of, the gamers who are supposed to be the audience for their reviews.

Does that sound familiar? It should. We’re fighting the same problem here in automotive journalism. Our founder, Robert Farago, created this website because he wasn’t comfortable following the manufacturer-provided narrative. Years after his departure, we’re still trying to bring you the truth about cars, regardless of how unpopular it makes us at the auto-show dinners. So I’m not surprised to see something like the screenshot at the top of this piece that shows Kotaku publishing the same basic promotional article over a dozen times. Just substitute “new Mustang” or “Cayman GT4″ for “Awesome Screenshot” and you’ll have a microcosm of the world of auto media. What did the Apostle say? And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.

But the problems with Project CARS go beyond a merely compliant gaming media. The business model followed by Slightly Mad Studios has been utterly fascinating to observe; the more you paid, and the earlier you paid it, the more say you could have in the development of the game. This is brilliant for multiple reasons, but perhaps the most pertinent is the tendency for people to have a bias towards their own purchase decisions. Speaking personally, I wonder if I would have been able to evaluate the BRZ/FR-S twins honestly had I managed to succeed at getting into the “First 86″ early release. The more you spend for something, the less likely you are to call it a piece of shit in public.

The exception to this, by the way, would be the Superformance S1 that I purchased new in 2001. I’m perfectly willing to talk about what a piece of shit that was despite the fact that I handed over nearly forty grand in cash to make it happen.

The large number of people who had bought into the Project CARS, er, project took even the mildest criticism personally:

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Reading this and other comments, I can’t help but think of the people on the various GT-R forums who openly wished for my violent death after I suggested that Nissan might have been gaming the so-called “Nurburgring record”. None of them were Nissan engineers, and none of them were on the Nissan payroll; they were simply emotionally invested in their prospective purchases. You cannot buy the kind of rabid loyalty that your own customers will award you simply for accepting their money.

The combination of a see-no-evil media and a large group of pre-purchasers intent on justifying their credit-card bill can be a powerful one when it comes to swaying public opinion. For that reason alone, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more and more automakers adopt a long-lead strategy of getting customers for new automobiles on board early with small deposits and constant communication. It’s what Elio Motors has done, and if you could see the behind-the-scenes statistics for TTAC articles, you’d know that Ronnie Schreiber’s articles on Elio are extremely popular and controversial even months after they’re written. It isn’t because the man on the street knows or cares about Elio; it’s because the average Elio “intender” is far more involved in the fortunes of the company than the average man or woman who just wanders onto a dealership and buys a Camry is in the fortunes of Toyota.

The end result appears to be an underwhelming product released to overwhelming acclaim. Does that sound familiar? It certainly does, but it might not be the last word on the subject. In the modern release-now-and-fix-later mindset, Project CARS might yet be whipped into shape by its developers. Software is much easier to revise post-sale than a real car is. For now, however, those of you who haven’t yet handed over your money might want to follow the same advice that used to be given to potential purchases of GM cars: wait until they get it right.

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Wall Street Journal v. GM: A Public Battle For Editorial Independence http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/wall-street-journal-v-gm-public-battle-editorial-independence/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/wall-street-journal-v-gm-public-battle-editorial-independence/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 17:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1053417 Once upon a time, The Wall Street Journal faced off against General Motors over editorial independence, and won. According to ProPublica president Richard Tofel, who wrote an entire chapter about the story for his book, “Restless Genius: Barney Kilgore, The Wall Street Journal, and the Invention of Modern Journalism,” the conflict between the two giants […]

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Once upon a time, The Wall Street Journal faced off against General Motors over editorial independence, and won.

According to ProPublica president Richard Tofel, who wrote an entire chapter about the story for his book, “Restless Genius: Barney Kilgore, The Wall Street Journal, and the Invention of Modern Journalism,” the conflict between the two giants began over 60 years ago this May.

The story goes that GM CEO Harlow “Red” Curtice happened upon a report in the WSJ about the tactic of selling excess inventory through smaller independent dealers at cut-rate prices – bootlegging – a tactic used by his company and his competitors in Detroit. The report also covered the editorial policies of the newspaper’s local competitors – which had banned advertising of non-franchise dealers involved in bootlegging – citing the Detroit Three’s influence in advertising departments had begun to creep into the newsroom.

As a result, Ward’s Automotive Reports had cut the WSJ off from its weekly newsletter subscription. However, an exclusive published in late May – styling renders of the 1955 models from the Detroit Three – was the straw that broke Curtice’s back.

Fearing that sales of 1954 models would crash as a result of the exclusive, GM cancelled all of its advertising with the newspaper that day and barred access to its weekly production figures; the Associated Press was also barred when GM learned the Journal had tried to go through the media organization to get the figures. Editor Barney Kilgore later told Time magazine his paper declined to attend the “off-the-record” new-model briefing that year, citing the Detroit Three’s tendency to go “off the record” nearly all the time as the reason for not playing the game.

What followed was two months of editorials defending its stance on the two stories, letters to the editor from readers who either weren’t happy with Kilgore’s decision or stood behind the newspaper, and a number of other publications, such as Ad Age and Tide magazine (an advertising trade journal, not to be confused with Time), calling out GM and Curtice’s behavior in the matter.

Speaking of the letters, Kilgore chose one from a reader to pass along with one of his own – calling for a way to settle the issue reasonably – to Curtice. The letter, by Roy Brenholts of Columbus, Ohio, stated that Brenholts would trade one of his two Cadillacs for a Ford instead of trading the Ford he owned for a Chevrolet, adding that he would avoid Cadillac until GM stopped their “Hitlerite attitude” toward the newspaper.

The meeting between Curtice and Kilgore led to two letters being published back-to-back in early July. Curtice wrote that breaking off relations with the WSJ was better than suing – though he wouldn’t hesitate to consider the latter next time – but that he never intended to interfere with editorial. Kilgore, in return, noted that the flow of information – weekly sales figures, news releases et al – had come back to normal, his paper had the right to publish news from authorized and unauthorized sources, and he, not the advertisers, would be the final arbiter in what was published in the first place. This established the WSJ as a newspaper with unflappable independence and integrity before the public in so doing.

[Photo credit: Robert Emperley/Flickr]

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Uber Safe Helps Drunk Torontonians Make It Home Safely http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/uber-safe-helps-drunk-torontonians-make-home-safely/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/uber-safe-helps-drunk-torontonians-make-home-safely/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 12:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1043194 Should you be in Toronto having a few with the TTAC Zaibatsu, and you need a lift home, Uber’s Uber Safe program might be what you need. AdWeek reports the program uses a breathalyzer sidewalk kiosk to help hammered patrons make it home safe. Said patron blows into a disposable straw for six seconds, then […]

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Uber Safe Kiosk

Should you be in Toronto having a few with the TTAC Zaibatsu, and you need a lift home, Uber’s Uber Safe program might be what you need.

AdWeek reports the program uses a breathalyzer sidewalk kiosk to help hammered patrons make it home safe. Said patron blows into a disposable straw for six seconds, then the breathalyzer determines if they are over the legal limit or not. If so, Uber offers the patron a ride home.

The Uber Safe program was developed with ad agency Rethink, and the kiosk was assembled by fabrication studio Stacklab; both companies have offices in Toronto.

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March Madness, Bad Car Ads And Grown Men Crying Over Games http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/march-madness-bad-car-ads-grown-men-crying-games/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/march-madness-bad-car-ads-grown-men-crying-games/#comments Thu, 19 Mar 2015 22:50:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1025553 I have a hard time being invested in televised sports. I could put it in my own words, but the best explanation comes from this essay, which likened it to being in an abusive relationship. Imagine a girl. Very pretty, a joy to be around, and a nice person that is kind to animals and people alike. […]

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I have a hard time being invested in televised sports. I could put it in my own words, but the best explanation comes from this essay, which likened it to being in an abusive relationship.

Imagine a girl. Very pretty, a joy to be around, and a nice person that is kind to animals and people alike. She’s a good person, and deserves a good boyfriend, someone who is nice and kind to her.

She has a boyfriend. But he sucks. He makes her pay for everything. When they do something, he tells her what they’re going to do, never asks what she want to do, and never makes any accommodations to her wishes. He only pays attention to her when he wants something out of her, but when she needs something, he is totally unresponsive. He relentlessly lies to her, and is transparently dismissive of their relationship and her as a person. He makes important decisions that impact her without asking her, or consulting her or even considering what she wants. He takes her completely for granted, and almost seems like he holds her in contempt. In essence, he treats her like garbage. Yet, she worships him and supports him no matter what.

What would you tell her? You’d say what any reasonable person would say: What the hell is wrong with you? Why are accepting this? You can do better. He’s not worth it, there are so many other great guys out there who won’t treat you so badly, stop putting up with this.

Now, think about this: If you are a devoted fan of a pro sports team, you have the exact same relationship…with that team.

You are the girlfriend, the team is the boyfriend, and they don’t give a shit about you, and you love them anyway.

Now, with college sports, I get that there’s a connection to a school based on geography, or alumni status or something else. But it’s still an entity that does not give a damn about you, and you are staking your happiness on the performance of people who are, in many cases, not old enough to legally crack a bottle of celebratory champagne. And if you didn’t go to that school? Well, Bark M has words for you.

But what’s worse than all of that is Acura’s campaign to create “memeness” for March Madness. I can’t remember I’ve seen anything so nakedly attempting to be hip or pandering to the “digital native”. It is undignified for any brand, especially for one like Acura that is trying to be taken seriously in the premium space (as the digital marketers would probably call it).

The most recent ad, with a strings version of The Pixies “Where Is My Mind” was pretty great. This campaign sucks. Like everything else Acura has done since they switched to alphanumeric names, it’s two steps forward, one step back.

H/T Damon Lavrinc

 

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Lincoln ‘Dares Greater’ Than Cadillac In Google SEO Game http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/lincoln-dares-greater-cadillac-google-seo-game/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/lincoln-dares-greater-cadillac-google-seo-game/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 11:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1007698 Oscar viewers who are seeking on Google the Cadillac that “dared greatly” are suddenly hearing Matthew McConaughey’s voice, thanks to Lincoln’s SEO skills. Autoblog reports the first instance of Lincoln’s slogan hijacking appeared less than 24 hours after Cadillac’s “Dare Greatly” adverts aired during the 87th Academy Awards. As seen above, those wanting to know […]

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Lincoln Dares Greater Than Cadillac In The SEO Game

Oscar viewers who are seeking on Google the Cadillac that “dared greatly” are suddenly hearing Matthew McConaughey’s voice, thanks to Lincoln’s SEO skills.

Autoblog reports the first instance of Lincoln’s slogan hijacking appeared less than 24 hours after Cadillac’s “Dare Greatly” adverts aired during the 87th Academy Awards. As seen above, those wanting to know more about Cadillac — and about that mysterious car making a brief appearance in a separate Oscars advert — will find a sponsored link for the brand at the top, followed by Lincoln’s version of the truth in second.

Originally, the second sponsored link — which read, “Dare Greatly – It’s not about making a statement, it’s about doing what you love” — directed consumers to Lincoln’s homepage, greeting them with the sight of the 2015 MKZ Hybrid. Since then, the link directs to the same page, but the image is that of the 2015 MKC. The link’s slogan, meanwhile, changes with every search; for this author, it currently reads, “You don’t have to make a statement when you know who you are,” likely a swipe at brand president Johan de Nysschen’s and brand director Melody Lee’s ambitions and aspirations for Cadillac.

As for the Oscars campaign, AutoTrader said that searches for Cadillac jumped 53 percent within an hour after the first advert aired.

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Cadillac’s Oscars 2015 Adverts Channel Teddy, Shows No Product http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/cadillacs-oscars-2015-adverts-channel-teddy-shows-no-product/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/cadillacs-oscars-2015-adverts-channel-teddy-shows-no-product/#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2015 11:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1003978 Melody Lee may or may not be on the red carpet Sunday, but Teddy Roosevelt’s essence will be felt in one of Cadillac’s Oscars 2015 adverts. Detroit Free Press reports the advert, called “Dare Greatly,” pulls the famous “Man in the Arena” passage from President Theodore Roosevelt’s 35-page “Citizenship in a Republic” speech at the […]

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Melody Lee may or may not be on the red carpet Sunday, but Teddy Roosevelt’s essence will be felt in one of Cadillac’s Oscars 2015 adverts.

Detroit Free Press reports the advert, called “Dare Greatly,” pulls the famous “Man in the Arena” passage from President Theodore Roosevelt’s 35-page “Citizenship in a Republic” speech at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, delivered April 23, 1910, though no credit is given to the historic president:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming … who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Aside from the lack of credit, all versions of the advert to be shown during the Oscars telecast offer plenty of views of the brand’s new home of New York, but none of its products. Representative David Caldwell said two other ads will also air Sunday evening, with at least one featuring a Cadillac. The ads are the first created by Publicis Worldwide for the brand; the agency replaced Detroit-based Lowe Campbell Ewald last year.

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Super Bowl Auto Maker Ads – Not Quite As Bad As Pass Play on 2 and Goal on the 1, but Close http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/super-bowl-auto-maker-ads-not-quite-bad-pass-play-2-goal-1-close/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/super-bowl-auto-maker-ads-not-quite-bad-pass-play-2-goal-1-close/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 15:18:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=993810 TTAC reader David Obelcz is back with his rundown of the latest crop of Super Bowl ads. For some watchers of the Super Bowl the game being played is meaningless. For them the sport is not on the field and the debate is not that the Patriots are one of the most dominate teams in […]

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TTAC reader David Obelcz is back with his rundown of the latest crop of Super Bowl ads.

For some watchers of the Super Bowl the game being played is meaningless. For them the sport is not on the field and the debate is not that the Patriots are one of the most dominate teams in football history and Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback to play the game why Pete Carroll didn’t give the ball to Marshawn Lynch in a 2 and goal on the 1 yard line. It isn’t meaningless to them because their team didn’t make the big game either. For some, the Super Bowl is all about the advertisements that run.

For the 2015 Super Bowl there were fewer car advertisements than previous years and from a marketing stand point, mostly duds. Thirty-eight national ad campaigns debuted that were required to turn 60 minutes of sport into four hours of television, 7 from auto makers. In addition, General Motors, Ford and Mini showed previously released advertisement in the 30 minutes prior to kickoff.

Some of the Best and Brightest of this hallowed site have suggested that Detroit sells on emotion, and emotion doesn’t sell product. If that’s true than a lot of ad agencies got it wrong this year because not just auto makers, but most advertisers played on emotion. For some including Nissan, Nationwide, and Dove, there was more emotion than the look on Richard Sherman’s face when Malcom Butler picked off Russell Wilson.

On to the ads.

The Fiat Blue Pill – Fiat 500X Crossover

Click here to view the embedded video.

Sex sells so they say. Of course when the sex is between a married couple pushing 60, well, maybe not so much. The premise is that the little blue pill, required for, “amore,” falls into the gas tank of a Fiat 500, and makes it, “bigger, more powerful, and ready for action.”

In advertising 101 they teach you there are sexual subliminal, and sexual blatant ads – any questions on what type this one is? Who is our target demographic? Well look at our 500X Crossover owner in the advertisement. He is young, handsome, single, and a Millennial. Buy a Fiat 500X Crossover and you’re going to get more action than our esteemed former EIC on a week-long guitar and vodka trip you could ever want. Of course I don’t know if the average millennial wants attention from 50 year old women sweeping the streets with a broom.

Fiat does get some things right. The camera angles they use put the Fiat 500X in a favorable light. When the crossover is first introduced the camera is low, and the lighting creates an illusion of ruggedness and SUV grade ground clearance.

GRADE: C-

Mercedes-Benz Fable – The Tortoise and the Hare

Click here to view the embedded video.

Ahh the story of the tortoise and the hare. Our hare in this blended animation spectacle has Richard Sherman flashing two-four over-confidence while our tortoise decides that some performance enhancement via four liters of hand built biturbo V8 engine is the way to go. The Mercedes-Benz AMG GT S, because if you can drop 10 large times 4 for your family to see the Super Bowl in Arizona, you got the cheddar to put this in your garage.

This is an aspiration piece, because the average American with the average income is never going to be able to buy a Mercedes-Benz AMG GT S. But Mercedes is hoping that they can draw buyers into their showroom to drool over on the AMG GT S in the showroom, and drive out in a $369 lease deal in a new GLA. However, this is where the ad falls flat. Animated forest critters that are Disneyesque in nature aren’t going to appeal to the AMG GT S buyer because there is nowhere to put the rug rats, and the average owner isn’t going to let the kids inside so they can spill their non-GMO, sugar and gluten free, organic, Concord grape juice in that special interior. This car is a weekend toy and future garage queen. There is nothing wrong with that, but woodland critters are not the best option for an aspiration piece on a luxury coupe with a hand built engine and racing heritage.

This ad comes across not really connecting with its target market at any level. It also has bad timing in its theme, telling how slow and steady does not wins the race, but deflating footballs cheating does.

GRADE: D

Toyota Camry – My Bold Dad

Click here to view the embedded video.

If emotion isn’t the path to selling vehicles, Toyota sure didn’t get that memo. “Being a dad is more than being a father. It’s a choice to get hurt rather than to hurt.”

That’s heavy, and the one thing this ad doesn’t do is say much about the Toyota Camry. On the other hand most Americans know what a Toyota Camry is, a reasonable, boring in non SE trim, appliance on wheels that will go 250K miles and seat five. The other thing that is shocking in this ad is our target demographic. Our dad in this ad is gray, with a lined face, a receding hairline, and when we get to the climax of the ad, an empty nest. So is Toyota really saying that the Camry demographic is over 50, has an empty nest, and is pining for their kids? Yikes!

This is really more a brand building ad. A piece to tug at the buying demographic heartstrings. In that respect it’s effective, but not the winner in the emotional arms race Madison Avenue ran this year. Additionally, whenever I see an advertisement that doesn’t touch on a single feature or benefit of the product, it screams to me, “we got nothing!”

GRADE: C-

Jeep Renegade – Beautiful Lands

Click here to view the embedded video.

FCA has been running epic, emotional advertisements in the Super Bowl since 2011 when Eminem declared Chrysler was back and imported from Detroit means something. In 2012 Clint Eastwood told us we were in half-time, but it was OK, because Detroit knows what it means to be coming out of hard times. In 2013 God Made a Farmer, guts, glory, Ram, for the farmer inside of you. 2014 had Bob Dylan asking us if there was anything more American than America. Never mind that the Autobahn was built before the Eisenhower Highway System. FCA continues this tradition for the fifth year with Beautiful Lands.

Woodie Guthrie is probably spinning in his grave over his iconic This Land Is Your Land being used in an auto advertisement for a Jeep built in Italy and Brazil. Middle America is definitely spinning that the American open space anthem was globalized. The backlash on Twitter was swift and FCA should have foreseen the coming ire. Last year’s America the Beautiful ad from Coca-Cola took a pounding for its multi-cultural positioning around an American anthem.

There is something almost depressing in the artist’s rendition of the song, and the visuals focus more on, well, being eye candy than on actual product. So the world is a gift America, play responsibly! Although beautiful imagery, I don’t feel the message and the music is going to compel people to buy a Jeep and tear up the forest.

I think I need to go buy a Nissan Leaf.

GRADE: D+

Kia Sorrento – The Perfect Getaway

Click here to view the embedded video.

The changed perception of Hyundai and Kia in just a decade has been remarkable. The 2012 Kia Optima Super Bowl ad was declared strange at best, Brett Michael, race tracks, hot women, speed, and – well – a Kia Optima.

Kia uses comedy and aspiration to sell you the Sorrento. Hey, we have Pierce Brosnan, James Bond himself! Oh, and here is our friend the sexual subliminal, because there is going to be fireworks! Are you noticing a theme developing in these ads? Once again, we have an older male, one that many would aspire to be. So why go after this demographic? Because this demographic is buying new cars (as has been debated to death)

Kia shows more product, including their chunky logo, and implies strongly in the ad that the new 2016 Sorrento is luxurious. The elements of telling the story connect back to the product (where the Fiat 500X ad focuses a lot more on the story). We’re also told through the story that the Sorrento is safe, rugged, and powerful. Oh, and if you buy a 2016 Kia Sorrento, you’re going to have more sex than Jack – fine – it probably wasn’t that funny the first time.

GRADE: B-

Nissan Maxima – With Dad

Click here to view the embedded video.

This ad was already highlighted on TTAC almost immediately after the Super Bowl. Where FCA dropped the ball on the emotional epic ad, Nissan spikes this on in the end zone harder than Gronkowski. If Nissan waited for more than two decades to return to the Super Bowl ad game with this, it was worth the wait.

This advertisement only shows two seconds of the new Nissan Maxima. But where our other emotional ads don’t quite catch the viewer’s heart, this one nails it like a Tom Brady bullet to the numbers. If you didn’t have a tear in your eye at the end of this ad you’re not human, or you have serious daddy issues. Nissan wanted you to share that tear in your eye, with a clever connection to social media and the #withdad hashtag. When you compare the emotional dad theme between Toyota and Nissan, these ads aren’t even close. They attempt the exact same thing, but the end result is Toyota is Andrew Luck and Nissan is Tom Brady.

The story arc shows us the racing heritage of Nissan, and conveys in a way that most American parents can understand, the sacrifices made when raising children. Once again our buyer demographic in the ad is pushing 50. Dads in America are apparently older, in great shape, with graying hair and blue eyes. Ah America! The added element of tinnitus during the racing accident and imagery leaves you in doubt on whether this ad is going to go to a dark place – it pulls you in during the story telling connecting both the child and the parents to the viewer. What we get in the end is redemption and understanding from a maturing son, and a peek at the new Nissan Maxima. Oh, and if you watch the ad, Panther platform cameos!

GRADE: A+

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Cadillac’s New Brand Identity To Grace Oscars’ Red Carpet http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/cadillacs-new-brand-identity-grace-oscars-red-carpet/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/cadillacs-new-brand-identity-grace-oscars-red-carpet/#comments Fri, 09 Jan 2015 15:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=974377 Want a selfie with Melody Lee at this year’s Oscars? While that may or may not happen due to a number of factors, Cadillac will grace the B&B’s viewing parties with its presence. Forbes reports the premium brand will walk the red carpet in an all-new advertising campaign gown, showing off both its revamped brand […]

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Jennifer Lawrence at the 2014 Oscars

Want a selfie with Melody Lee at this year’s Oscars? While that may or may not happen due to a number of factors, Cadillac will grace the B&B’s viewing parties with its presence.

Forbes reports the premium brand will walk the red carpet in an all-new advertising campaign gown, showing off both its revamped brand positioning and new tagline during the telecast of the annual awards ceremony February 22, followed by the debut of the CT6 at the 2015 New York Auto Show in April.

Cadillac’s goal with the campaign, per CMO Uwe Ellinghaus, is to “disrupt” how everyone views the brand, hopefully doing a better job than the time Kimmy K tried to break the Internet with her backside. Parent company General Motors became the exclusive automobile advertiser in 2014 after Hyundai stepped away, with both Chevrolet and Cadillac airing spots during the pre-show and main event.

As for New York, the brand will debut a new auto-show display design at the show, with the aim of differentiating itself from other premium, more Teutonic marquees. Ellinghaus explains the motive:

As an American brand, Cadillac can be bolder, more expressive and use more of a human touch, because we are not German. We need to get to one “look-and-see” the world over.

Meanwhile, Cadillac’s presence at next week’s 2015 Detroit Auto Show will be more subdued, focusing upon the 640-horsepower, 200-mph 2016 CTS-V premium performance sedan.

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A Man Who Wears the Texaco Star and the Man Behind the Jingle http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/man-wears-texaco-star-man-behind-jingle/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/man-wears-texaco-star-man-behind-jingle/#comments Fri, 07 Nov 2014 14:45:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=936074 Brian Saylor has managed to combine two of his passions, old trucks and Texaco memorabilia. You can see him at Detroit area car shows with his Texaco trucks,  Texaco gasoline pump and assorted Texaco merchandise, with Saylor dressed in the uniform that Texaco service station employees would have worn a couple of generations ago. Yes, […]

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Full gallery here

Brian Saylor has managed to combine two of his passions, old trucks and Texaco memorabilia. You can see him at Detroit area car shows with his Texaco trucks,  Texaco gasoline pump and assorted Texaco merchandise, with Saylor dressed in the uniform that Texaco service station employees would have worn a couple of generations ago. Yes, Virginia, there was a time when gas station employees wore uniforms and they actually serviced your car.  They even sang songs about them. Okay, so they were advertising jingles, but I bet most Americans over the age of 50 recognize, “You can trust your car to the man who wears the star, the big bright Texaco star.”

Click here to view the embedded video.

About ten years ago Saylor  bought a 1937 Ford dump truck that had been sitting in a Nebraska field for more than a quarter century. It was pretty rough, the engine was seized, but the body was in decent shape and it still had the power-take-off unit that ran the hydraulics for the dump bed. He stripped it down to the frame, which he had sandblasted and powder coated. The truck is a bit of a resto-mod. He was planning on it being a driver, not a trailer queen so he replaced the mechanical brakes (Henry Ford wasn’t a fan of hydraulic brakes so Ford used mechanical linkages for their stoppers well into the 1930s) with a hydraulic system. What was supposed to be a freshly rebuilt flathead V8 turned out to indeed rebuilt but with the rear main bearing installed backwards resulting in another seized engine.

Once that engine was rebuilt again the project picked up steam. On a trip to the big vintage car meet in Hershey, Pennsylvania Saylor saw an old tank truck and got the idea to turn his ’37 Ford into a Texaco fuel oil delivery truck. After some initial testing yielded a top speed of just 40 mph due to the the truck’s 1:6.67 final drive ratio, Saylor retrofitted a full floating rear axle from a 1983 Ford F-350 Super Duty pickup with 3.54 gears.  “Now I can go faster without the engine turning 10,000 rpm,” Sayler quips, though I doubt a Flathead Ford V8 has ever turned 10,000 rpm.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Of course a proper service station back then would have actually done service and repairs and if they did repairs they needed a “parts truck”, something to run to the auto parts store. Towards that role playing end, Saylor’s also restored a 1967 Ford Econoline pickup.

In real life Saylor manages the engineering laboratory of Gabriel shock absorbers, is married to Angie and they have a teenaged son. The Saylors make car shows a family affair, setting up their traveling service station and talking to folks waxing nostalgic.

That hospitality reflects Brian’s roots as a self-professed “southern boy”. Saylor lived in South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and Florida before moving to Michigan in the late 1990s. He told the Ford & Mercury Restorers’ Club bulletin,  “I haven’t lost nor want to lose my southern ways,” though for someone who describes himself as “addicted” to restoring Ford trucks, the move has had its benefits.

A lot cuter than those creepy "Cry baby" dolls people lean on bumpers at car shows.

Whoever’s exceptionally cute and charming child this is*, he’s a lot cuter than those creepy “Cry baby” dolls people lean on bumpers at car shows. Full gallery here

As expected, when they see Saylor, his trucks and his display, a lot of folks mention that old advertising slogan. Many remember the jingle, but few know who created it. Roy Eaton, first at the Young & Rubicam ad agency and later at Benton & Bowles, helped shape mid-century American popular culture and he was responsible for the slogan and the melody of the jingle that accompanied it. The first black man to have a creative role at a major U.S. ad agency, Eaton was also one of the first in the ad business to use jazz music in commercials. In addition to his memorable and catchy jingle for Texaco, he also coined the phrase “Can’t get enough o’ that Sugar Crisp” and it was his idea to have the Sugar Bear character that promoted the cereal effect a Dean Martin persona.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Born in Harlem, Eaton’s father was a mechanic and his mother was a domestic worker who had immigrated from Jamaica. Though he lost part of a finger in an accident when he was three years old, he took up classical piano at the age of six. By his teens he had played Carnegie Hall. Graduating from New York City’s High School of Music and Art, he then completed, simultaneously, degrees from CCNY and the Manhattan School of Music. He won a scholarship to study in Switzerland and upon his return he won a Chopin Award and was awarded a musicology fellowship at Yale.

Click here to view the embedded video.

While in the Army during the Korean War, he wrote and produced programs for Armed Forces Radio. After his discharge, he hired in to Young and Rubicam as a copywriter and composer for jingles. He’s reported to have been responsible for 75% of the music produced at Y&R during the first two years he was at the agency. The companies whose accounts that he worked on are a veritable who’s who of the business world, including Jello, Cheer detergent, Johnson & Johnson, Post cereals, General Electric. Spic and Span and Beech Nut Gum. He didn’t just write the music, he wrote the taglines as well. The music he wrote was contemporary and innovative for the ad business, incorporating themes and sounds from what at the time was considered the modern jazz of Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and Thelonius Monk.

Click here to view the embedded video.

In the  late 1950s, after barely surviving an automobile accident killed his new bride and left him seriously injured, Eaton took the job of music director at the Benton & Bowles agency. It was there that he wrote the Sugar Crisp jingle, music for toys like GI Joe and Mr. Potato Head, Yuban coffee and, “Hardee’s, Best Eatin’ in Town”. After staying with that agency for more than three decades, in 1980 he opened his own music production company and returned to the concert stage. An enthsusiast of meditation, his 1986 solo concert, The Meditative Chopin, at Lincoln Center was praised by the New York Times, “The cumulative effect was deeply satisfying. One came much closer to the heart of Chopin—and by extension, to music itself”. He’s performed internationally and recorded albums of the compositions of Chopin, George Gershwin, Scott Joplin and others. His own compositions have been on the soundtracks of feature films. On the faculty of his alma mater, the Manhattan School of Music, in 2010 he’s was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Eaton credits his success to a lesson taught by his mother. She told him that in order to succeed in the face of the racial prejudice that was unfortunately common in his youth, he ““needed to do 200% to get credit for 100%”. “So,” Roy says, “that became my lifetime mantra.”

Click here to view the embedded video.

Roy Eaton’s talent for crafting jingles continues to resonate today. A black man from Harlem and a southern boy share a common chord. If it hadn’t been for Eaton’s jingle more than 50 years ago I’m not sure that Brian Saylor would be dressing up as “the man who wears the star” today.

*Photo taken with parents’ permission given in exchange for providing Zayde services.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Edmunds Retracts Haggling Parody Amid Dealer Outcry http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/edmunds-retracts-haggling-parody-amid-dealer-outcry/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/edmunds-retracts-haggling-parody-amid-dealer-outcry/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 11:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=936874 As you all know, the TTAC Zaibatsu prides itself on not having to worry about things like upsetting brands for telling it like it is for a given product. Of course, this does sometimes mean we get blackballed by said brands for not drinking the Kool-Aid, but we have our ways around those roadblocks. Alas, […]

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Two Bros Talking To A Sales Bro About A Car

As you all know, the TTAC Zaibatsu prides itself on not having to worry about things like upsetting brands for telling it like it is for a given product. Of course, this does sometimes mean we get blackballed by said brands for not drinking the Kool-Aid, but we have our ways around those roadblocks.

Alas, Edmunds doesn’t have those ways, resulting in a series of ads retracted after a number of dealers took issue with the content.

According to AdAge, the automotive research site created a series of ads parodying outdated sales techniques that made car-buying a headache for quite a few; the headache hasn’t gone away, with 83 percent of consumers surveyed in 2014 by Edmunds would like to do away with negotiations altogether.

The parodies focused on a supermarket cashier using said techniques to persuade shoppers to haggle for their purchases. The results were filmed via hidden camera, then posted on YouTube.

Alas, it was not to last: A number of its partners found little humor in the adverts, feeling they undermined their relationship with Edmunds. A few showrooms went as far as to unsubscribe from the site’s portfolio of services.

Though it had no intention to take the series down at first, Edmunds relented. President Seth Berkowitz said the series “missed the mark,” and that the company would go back to improving the car-buying process with its dealer partners “for car shoppers around the country.”

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It’s The New Motoramic Chevrolet! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/its-the-new-motoramic-chevrolet/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/its-the-new-motoramic-chevrolet/#comments Sat, 03 May 2014 14:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=814410 Earlier this week TTAC ran an insightful post by Abraham Drimmer on the history of autonomous cars that featured a promotional film about General Motors’ Futurama exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. That film was produced by the Jam Handy Organization, the Detroit based motion picture studio famous for its educational film strips […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

Earlier this week TTAC ran an insightful post by Abraham Drimmer on the history of autonomous cars that featured a promotional film about General Motors’ Futurama exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. That film was produced by the Jam Handy Organization, the Detroit based motion picture studio famous for its educational film strips and promotional films. GM executives must have liked the “ama” suffix because a few years later in the 1950s they used it to name their annual touring display of concept and show cars the “Motorama”. Just as the Futurama gave Americans a look at the highways of the future, in its day, Motorama became synonymous with cars of the future. Perhaps that’s why Chevrolet decided to use the word “Motoramic” to describe their all new 1955 models and again hired the Jam Handy studio to promote them.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Nineteen-fifty-five was a big year for Chevy. It marked the introduction of Chevrolet’s first V8 engine, then called the “Turbofire V8″, what would become known as the “small block Chevy”. Chevy’s chief engineer, Ed Cole, led the talented team that developed the lightweight, compact and powerful motor, the first time a modern, high compression, overhead valve V8 was available in something that wasn’t a luxury car. Motoramic, according to Chevrolet meant, “More than a new car, a new concept of low cost motoring”.

Click here to view the embedded video.

It may seem quaint today, when hardly anyone in the U.S. market describes their products as economy cars, but in the 1950s Chevy, Ford and Plymouth were not embarrassed to call themselves the “low cost three”. The ’55 Chevys were landmark cars. Not only did they introduce the OHV V8 to the masses, they were some of the first popularly priced cars that were available with a wide variety of trim lines and optional features. They also had more style than one might expect in an economy car. Almost 60 years later, the ’54 Chevys still look dowdy next to the ’55s (and later ’56 and ’57 models). Advertising touted “show car styling” and “43 new interiors”. By offering a variety of body styles (convertible, two door, four door, station wagon etc.) and trim lines, GM gave Chevy dealers a showroom full of different “models”, even though they were all pretty much the same car.

Click here to view the embedded video.

As with the Futurama, GM commissioned the Jam Handy Organization, in this case to produce a series of 10 television commercials used to launch the 1955 Chevrolet line. While each has a different opening tagline, all ten of the ads use variations on the same script, to make sure that new car’s selling points, the show car styling, the three new engines, the three new transmissions, and the new Glide-Ride front suspension etc. get mentioned.

Click here to view the embedded video.

We’ve seen plenty of retro styled cars over the past couple of decade. Even the recently introduced 2015 Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger use design cues that are at least 40 years old. With the appeal of Ad Men, a show placed in the mid 1960s, and the growing interest in “mid-century” collectibles I won’t be surprised if, in a fit of hipster irony, Chevy, or another car company, reprises the look and feel of these Jam Handy produced ads.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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FTC Resumes Review Of Fuel Economy Advertising Guidelines http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/ftc-resumes-review-of-fuel-economy-advertising-guidelines/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/ftc-resumes-review-of-fuel-economy-advertising-guidelines/#comments Fri, 02 May 2014 11:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=813969 The Federal Trade Commission voted 4-0 Thursday to resume its review of fuel economy claims in advertising by automakers and dealers, and whether or not the agency should revise the 40-year-old guidelines governing them. The Detroit News reports the FTC had been considering making changes to the Guide Concerning Fuel Economy Advertising for New Automobiles […]

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The Federal Trade Commission voted 4-0 Thursday to resume its review of fuel economy claims in advertising by automakers and dealers, and whether or not the agency should revise the 40-year-old guidelines governing them.

The Detroit News reports the FTC had been considering making changes to the Guide Concerning Fuel Economy Advertising for New Automobiles since 2009 to help “marketers avoid deceptive or unfair claims” such as those that befell Hyundai, Kia and Ford over the past few years. The agency paused in 2011 until after the Environmental Protection Agency’s new fuel economy labeling requirements were in place, as well as to look over its own Alternative Fuel Rule.

The FTC plans to go over general and unspecified fuel economy claims in advertising, as well as define Combined Fuel Economy for electric vehicles, all in an effort to remove outdated language and establish clearer information on advertised economy going forward. It is currently asking for comments on updates to reflect the new EPA guidelines and MPG claims, and the need for guidance on alternative fuel vehicle claims. The comments are due by July 10.

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Nissan, Ad Agency Settle With FTC Over Hill Climb Dramatization in Frontier Ads http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/nissan-ad-agency-settle-with-ftc-over-hill-climb-dramatization-in-frontier-ads/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/nissan-ad-agency-settle-with-ftc-over-hill-climb-dramatization-in-frontier-ads/#comments Fri, 24 Jan 2014 05:46:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=707490 Nissan North America and TBWA Worldwide, Nissan’s ad agency have agreed to a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over the FTC’s claims that a television commercial for the Nissan Frontier misled consumers about the truck’s ability to climb hills. The 30 second ad, titled “Hill Climb”, portrayed a Frontier pushing a stranded dune buggy […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

Nissan North America and TBWA Worldwide, Nissan’s ad agency have agreed to a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over the FTC’s claims that a television commercial for the Nissan Frontier misled consumers about the truck’s ability to climb hills. The 30 second ad, titled “Hill Climb”, portrayed a Frontier pushing a stranded dune buggy up a steep sand dune. In reality, the Frontier wold not be able to perform the stunt in the ad. To shoot the ad, both vehicles were towed up the hill using cables.

According to Automotive News, the FTC said that Nissan and the ad agency are prohibited from using potentially misleading demonstrations in future advertisements for its trucks. No fines will be paid and both companies issued statements saying they never had any intention of misleading consumers. “Nissan takes its commitment to fair and truthful advertising seriously,” Nissan spokesman Travis Parman wrote in an e-mail. “The company has been and remains committed to complying with the law.”

“Special effects in ads can be entertaining, but advertisers can’t use them to misrepresent what a product can do,” Jessica Rich, the director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “This ad made the Nissan Frontier appear capable of doing something it can’t do.”

While the ad did flash a disclaimer on the screen, in small print: “Fictionalization. Do not attempt,” the FTC deemed that insufficient to protect consumers that might think it was not a dramatization.

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Commercial Break: The Elusive Female Truck Buyer http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/commercial-break-the-elusive-female-truck-buyer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/commercial-break-the-elusive-female-truck-buyer/#comments Mon, 06 Jan 2014 12:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=692849 A woman and her horse: the pairing that GM hopes will persuade female consumers to consider the Chevrolet line of trucks. At a time when truck ads are pushing masculinity to absurd heights, it’s a bold move. Even so, it’s a fundamentally conservative approach to a difficult marketing problem. How do you sell pickup trucks […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

A woman and her horse: the pairing that GM hopes will persuade female consumers to consider the Chevrolet line of trucks. At a time when truck ads are pushing masculinity to absurd heights, it’s a bold move. Even so, it’s a fundamentally conservative approach to a difficult marketing problem.

How do you sell pickup trucks to women? For a long time, the answer has been that you don’t. Close to 90% of pickup buyers are male, a ratio which hasn’t changed much in decades. Making the business case for attracting more women to the pickup market isn’t hard. Full-size trucks have been the prime moneymakers for Detroit for years, a market that the Japanese would like a bigger piece of as well. A skewed sex ratio means that valuable female consumer dollars are gravitating towards other, less profitable segments. In GM’s case, CUVs like the Equinox, Terrain, and Enclave have proved popular with female buyers. But pushing those consumers towards the loaded pickups on the other side of the showroom is even better news for the bottom line. Brand strategists have realized that the full-size truck is now the de facto top of the model hierarchy, at least for the Detroit 3. Upselling women into pickups and SUVs is a natural evolution of an age-old marketing scheme: turn in your smaller vehicle for a bigger, more luxurious one.

If only it were that easy. The thorny dilemma that immediately rears its head is how to market trucks to women without compromising their masculine image in the eyes of male consumers. As long as strong, rugged maleness remains the accepted paradigm for truck ads, the hands of agencies and marketing departments are tied. For the dominant manufacturers in the truck game, there’s no need to shake up the status quo on a product that already sells in droves. The companies with a smaller slice of the pie seem content to ape the strategy of the more successful brands in the hopes of gradually elevating sales. The result is an echo chamber of advertising which intentionally minimizes the role of women or excludes them entirely.

However, there are three factors which might motivate companies to pursue female truck buyers more aggressively. The first is the already-discussed temptation to upsell and broaden the pickup market generally. The second is that for a major product with such lucrative margins, the 10-15% of women who already buy new trucks is “not an insignificant number,” as Chevrolet truck marketing director Maria Rohrer explained to Business Insider back in July. Thirdly, advertising campaigns that incorporate women or themes relevant to women may influence purchasing decisions regardless of who signs on the dotted line. Although women are the direct buyers in a relatively small portion of truck sales, they influence countless more as the wives, daughters, business partners and girlfriends of male truck purchasers. Chevrolet’s “Strong” music video seems to take this influence into account. Although there’s a single female driver at around the 2:46 mark, there are many other women interspersed throughout the ad. The lyrics to the song are a paean to the sturdy blue-collar man who puts work and family above all else, a move away from the kind of brashness that characterizes Ford’s current ad series for the F-series. It’s one thing to give women a nod by putting them in the background, but how do you sell to them directly?

Chevrolet’s solution is an ad featuring a woman that explicitly eschews traditionally feminine themes. There are no kids being buckled into car seats, no painted fingernails tapping touchscreens, no group of women disembarking from a quad cab at the beach or the mall. It’s the opposite of the (in)famous Porsche “school bus” commercial, which dropped Porsche vehicles into a variety of mundane scenarios. Instead, we get a tough, independent woman hurling hay bales into the back of her new Silverado. She’s thin, youngish, and attractive, but not “pretty” or delicate: her hair is loose and wild, she has a tattoo on her wrist, and she looks at home in her cowboy boots, flannel, and sunglasses. She’s the only woman in the entire ad, outside of a quick crowd shot at the rodeo. She handles her horse and her truck entirely by herself; independence is the clear message. At the end of the day, she wins “a ribbon that goes on her wall, not in her hair.” As the author of the Business Insider piece astutely observed, and ad chief Rohrer confirmed, the narrative is designed to be “something that everyone could relate to.” And therein lies the fundamental conservatism of this approach: it seeks to attract female consumers within the existing, male-centric paradigm. There’s no serious risk of the masculinity of Chevy trucks being watered down from this ad, even though the main character is a woman. It engages women within the context of an open but overwhelmingly male-dominated activity. This is the safe approach, but is it the right one?

                The issue with this spot is that the direct appeal is ultimately very narrow. Even among the women who already buy pickups, the number of rodeo-competing horse enthusiasts is tiny. And it is very remote from the lives of the small business owners, industrial professionals, and affluent suburbanites who might form the core of a new female class of truck buyers. In other words, the appeal of the ad is deep within its narrow target, but not broad. Were I asked to design my own ad campaign for pickup trucks that targeted women, I would try to choose a widely relevant situation. A woman loading up home improvement supplies would be an example. So would a female contractor visiting a job site, or a business owner making a delivery. It might be worthwhile to toss a few kids into the ad as well, but not as the main focus. A woman and her horse is a step in the right direction, but it’s not likely to get many more women to consider a truck than those that already do. That’s probably what Chevrolet was going for, but expanding the market should be a long-term strategic goal.

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Maroon Velour, Coupes Galore, And An Important Four-Door for 1984 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/maroon-velour-coupes-galore-and-an-important-four-door-for-1984/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/maroon-velour-coupes-galore-and-an-important-four-door-for-1984/#comments Mon, 30 Dec 2013 12:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=688930 Haven’t you heard the exciting news? There’s a new Corvette out this year! Cadillac is building convertibles again! The VW Vanagon has a water-cooled engine! Oldsmobile is offering some kind of voice warning doohickey and the FIRENZA HAS NEW TRIM OPTIONS!1!!11! All with interest rates hovering just under 13%! It’s 1984, and I just can’t […]

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DSC_0405Haven’t you heard the exciting news? There’s a new Corvette out this year! Cadillac is building convertibles again! The VW Vanagon has a water-cooled engine! Oldsmobile is offering some kind of voice warning doohickey and the FIRENZA HAS NEW TRIM OPTIONS!1!!11! All with interest rates hovering just under 13%! It’s 1984, and I just can’t wait to check out the goods at the auto show.

 

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My mother volunteers at a local charity that provides needy families with household items. Her job involves separating and sorting useful donations from not-so-useful ones: broken glass, dead appliances, and in this case, old newspapers. She gifted me a piece of the long-defunct Columbus Citizen-Journal which previewed the upcoming attractions at the city’s 1984 auto show. I eagerly awaited page after page of achingly desirable machines, available for a pittance, indicative of a prosperity and degree of freedom that my Internet-addled generation could never hope to know.

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Olds, Pontiac, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Ford, Dodge, and Honda products are all given the puff treatment here, alongside a plethora of ads. Curiously, no Buick, VW, Toyota, Subaru, or any other import marque is included in the paper’s formal writeups. Limited column space, perhaps? On the front page, there’s a marketshare breakdown for 1983: Ford had 17.1 percent, GM had 44.4 Chrysler had 10.3, and AMC 2.5. Imports made up a combined 25.7 percent, with the Japanese holding more than four-fifths of that total. In the whole American market, things have changed dramatically. In the Midwest? Maybe not so much. But hey, check out those conversion vans!

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 A four-cylinder, turbocharged Mustang! How oddly familiar. The EXP serves as a reminder that in the 80s, there was still a market for inexpensive 2-seater coupes. Will they ever come back? Considering that two-door coupes not called Camaro or Mustang barely exist anymore, I’m guessing no.

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Pontiac’s new “showpiece of engineering” won the sales race in the aforementioned market, but changing tastes ultimately doomed it. Perhaps the Solstice would have sold better under the Fiero nameplate.

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  The Civic lineup was all-new in 1984, with seven different models sold under the nameplate. You could get the gas-sipping CRX, the sporty Si hatch, a five-door wagon, and several others. The EPA rating of 67 on the highway for the CRX was undoubtedly optimistic, but real-world mileage still proved stellar. Before the pointless economy-car horsepower wars, you got 60 horsepower out of the 1.3 liter base engine in the Civic. If you were feeling adventurous, you could get the 1.5 liter with its awesome 76 horsepower. Slow? Yes. Tuned for actually saving gas? Absolutely. Tongues will wag and say that safety regs killed light, simple cars like the CRX, but in a world where the Fiat 500 and the Chevy Spark both exist, I’m not buying it. Size creep was already making its presence felt in the mid-80s. As the column points out, the 1984 Civic sedan was 5.2 inches longer than the ’83. Check out the Subaru ad too. In the current era of pseudo-premium everything, would any car company ever dare to describe their product as “inexpensive?”

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 The most important new car of the 1984 season was the Plymouth Voyager/Dodge Grand Caravan. Like it or not, this is the vehicle that truly spawned the SUV/CUV revolution. It showed millions of middle-class families that they could have the kind of voluminous, carry-all interior space previously considered the exclusive domain of commercial vehicles. Their relative cheapness and ease of use made consumers unwilling to tolerate the compromises inherent in traditional sedan-based wagons. True truck-based SUVs didn’t take off until the early 90s, but minivans paved the way long before huge fake dinosaurs were eating people out of Ford Explorers.

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 A BMW sold on its residual value? Your eyes do not deceive you. Exacting build quality, careful engineering, the latest in technological wizardry (Service warning lights! An MPG computer!) all help you “not only hold onto a significant portion of your wealth- the portion that you keep in the form of a car- but to enjoy yourself tremendously in the process.” Is this even on the same planet as the modern-day lease extravanganza? You needed the retained value if you were going to be paying 12.95% APR on a new car loan, though.

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 Here’s another bank ad. It might have been morning in America, but credit was still quite tight in 1984. 11.95% sounds like buy-here pay-here level financing today, but in the mid-eighties one needed to have great credit to get these kinds of rates. Apparently 60 month terms weren’t that uncommon thirty years ago.

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  There aren’t a lot of prices in these ads, but the few that are there are revealing. $9999 for a 1984 Marquis Brougham is $22,430 in today’s money, according to the handy Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator. For that, you got a front-drive, midsize sedan powered by a  carbeurated 120 horsepower V6, an automatic transmission, and air conditioning. You also got one power seat (part of a split bench), steel wheels with covers, no cassette player, zero airbags,  and no ABS. Don’t forget the interest rate.

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Maybe used is more your style. Then as now, Budget has plenty of no doubt gently-driven rental cars to offer you. How about an ’83 Sentra for $15,227 in today’s dollars? Hey, at least it has a stereo, four wheels, and “air conditioning!” You could get a Citation for a little less. A V6, automatic ’83 Camaro or a Mercury Cougar would set you back $21,284. Deals! There are more than a few cars from 1984 that I wouldn’t mind owning. The G-body Cutlasses and Regals are still among the best designs of the latter half of the twentieth century. I’d love to have a Civic Si and a Prelude, as well as a Fiero and Shelby Charger. I will own another E30 some day. But 1980s new car prices stir no longing for times gone by in my heart.

 

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Editorial: It’s Time to Rethink Truck Advertising http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/editorial-its-time-to-rethink-truck-advertising/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/editorial-its-time-to-rethink-truck-advertising/#comments Thu, 19 Dec 2013 13:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=683346 An imposing, expensive log home dominates a clearing, reclaimed from the rugged pine-infested wilderness that surrounds it. Smoke rises from the chimney, overlaying the picturesque mountain peak in the background. In front of the home, a man leans over the open engine bay of his obviously new truck. The chrome gleams, despite the trail mud […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

An imposing, expensive log home dominates a clearing, reclaimed from the rugged pine-infested wilderness that surrounds it. Smoke rises from the chimney, overlaying the picturesque mountain peak in the background. In front of the home, a man leans over the open engine bay of his obviously new truck. The chrome gleams, despite the trail mud artistically bespattered on the sides. As the camera zooms in, he looks up from the engine bay and smiles. His tousled hair, unshaven stubble, and harmonious blend of over-25-under-40 facial features comport well alongside his worn cowboy boots, perfectly soiled jeans and carefully rumpled flannel shirt. He wipes his hands with a rag, looks back at the house for just a moment, and then turns to the camera.

“Built it myself,” he says with a polished gruffness. “But I couldn’t have done it without the right tools for the job. Saws, hammers, nails, and varnish. And a truck I can depend on.” He reaches over and closes the hood with a “thunk” that took the sound editing guy three weeks to get right. “Brand X is as reliable as the day is long. But what I like the most is that I can do all the regular maintenance myself. Oil changes, fluid flushes, and anything else she needs. It’s easy. Everything comes in a handy guide. No experience necessary. Brand X builds a truck for you, not for mechanics.”

At that moment, the screen door on the porch swings open. A well-groomed Labrador Retriever rushes out with a happy bark, his collar jingling. As he runs towards his master, an achingly beautiful brunette steps out onto the porch. Her hair falls down over her slightly unbuttoned blouse as she smiles at the man in the courtyard. He turns to face her and gives a casual wave, just as the dog reaches his feet. She returns the wave, as he pets the dog with his free hand. She leans against a porch column as he turns back to the camera, the dog now sitting alongside him. Now he wears a knowing smirk on his face. “Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.” The challenge made, he turns back and heads towards the front door. The camera zooms out, and cuts away to the mountains as he reaches the porch and embraces the girl. The logo for Brand X looms onto the screen. An announcer calls out the tagline. “Brand X. Independence is everything.”

“Don’t provoke your customers.” The maxim seems simple enough. So is the script above a form of marketing suicide? Not necessarily. Megadoses of brash masculinity in contemporary truck ads are a given. Especially with the collapse of the small and mid-size truck markets, portraying the heavy-duty macho pedigree of pick-ups is essential. Nobody wants to build the next Brat. Instead, deep-voiced announcers harangue viewers with statistics and brawny narratives. The question becomes one of oversaturation. How many images of trucks towing impressive-looking gooseneck setups/ginormous almost-yachts/inferior trucks, trucks getting huge loads of bricks/rocks/other bulky substances dumped in the bed from ridiculous heights, and trucks pulling overloaded trailers up a Mad Max-ish winding tower of death surrounded by OMG FLAMES SO HARDCORE can the average guy absorb before the effect starts to wear thin?

Perhaps we already have the answer: pulling a freaking space shuttle into a hangar in a supposedly “real world” challenge without the slightest hint of irony or self-effacement (“It’s really heavy, and it’s also quite big.” Bob the Builder would be proud.) Or maybe it peaked even earlier: parking a perfectly good pickup between two bulldozers and bending the hell out of it just to prove that yes, it is hard to crush something made of metal that weighs the better part of three tons. (It’s worth noting that Ford pulled that ad after negative consumer reaction.) Every manufacturer is guilty of this to some degree; the struggle for breathless superlatives and ludicrous stunts is an arms race that not even Kissinger could de-escalate. What’s more of an insult to a customer: the insinuation that these shenanigans somehow represent real-world product value, or that maybe, just maybe, taking responsibility for your own vehicle maintenance is sexy?

The cartoonish over sincerity of truck advertising is ripe to be skewered. At least one ad exec working for GM has realized this. A memorable 2012 Super Bowl ad for Chevy trucks riffed cheekily on the Mayan Apocalypse as well as manly vigor in the face of chaos. The ad works because it gets the message across (GM builds the most reliable pickups) without resorting to overwrought machismo or torrents of forgettable facts and figures. Recently, brands in other product categories have gotten far by giving masculinity the ironic, playful treatment.

The line of Axe grooming products comes most readily to mind, as do the over-the-top ads for Dr. Pepper 10. Going farther back in automotive history, there are numerous examples where manufacturers achieved enormous success by attacking the marketing tropes of the day. The most iconic of these was the Doyle Dane Bernbach series of Volkswagen ads that appeared in 1959. “Think Small” exploded decades of conventional wisdom about what Americans expected from an automotive ad campaign. The enormous success of VW in swimming upstream changed not only that company’s fortunes, but arguably the entire character of the US car market.

The DIY aesthetic has long been a favorite background for truck ads. Since at least the 1980s, though, manufacturers have been hesitant to apply it to the trucks themselves. Perhaps this is due to the need to maintain good relations with dealers, who rely on service for a steady income stream. More likely, it rests on the presumption that modern drivers want nothing to do with the mechanical upkeep of their vehicles of they can help it. It wasn’t always this way; ads from the 1970s and before are replete with references to the ease of do-it-yourself maintenance for both cars and trucks alike. Resurrecting self-maintenance would be a quick and easy way for a manufacturer to stake out a unique niche in the marketing game.

Because many truck buyers are commercial customers who are already more likely to self-maintain, the strategy carries less risk than if it were applied to passenger cars. It could help a marginal player like Nissan establish a reputation as a “man’s truck,” owned by the confident and technically savvy. This is the most crucial part of the game: the creation of an image that customers will want to buy into, not necessarily one they live themselves. Very few smokers of Marlboro Reds are lasso-wielding cowboys. But the image offered by that campaign proved to be an immensely powerful draw. It isn’t necessary to throw out all conventional wisdom at once, like DDB did for VW. However, the existing stale and hyper-masculine paradigm of truck ads is ripe to be shaken up, one way or another.

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Volvo Truck Denies Release of Van Damme “Epic Split” Video Was Timed to Bury Layoff News http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/volvo-truck-denies-release-of-van-damme-epic-split-video-was-timed-to-bury-layoff-news/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/volvo-truck-denies-release-of-van-damme-epic-split-video-was-timed-to-bury-layoff-news/#comments Tue, 17 Dec 2013 10:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=681802 You’ve probably seen the video that Volvo produced with actor and martial artist Jean Claude Van Damme performing one of his famous splits, while perched on the side mirrors of two Volvo semi trucks demonstrating Volvo Trucks’ “Dynamic Steering”. The video quickly went viral in the automotive and general worlds, with millions of people seeing […]

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Volvo assembly line

You’ve probably seen the video that Volvo produced with actor and martial artist Jean Claude Van Damme performing one of his famous splits, while perched on the side mirrors of two Volvo semi trucks demonstrating Volvo Trucks’ “Dynamic Steering”. The video quickly went viral in the automotive and general worlds, with millions of people seeing it in the first few days after release. Now some Swedes are wondering if the timing of the video’s release was calculated to deflect attention from layoffs at the truck maker. Right around the same time that the video was going viral, it was announced that 380 temporary workers will be laid off from Volvo’s plant in Umeå, while another 100 jobs will be lost at Volvo Powertrain in Skövde .

“This is an adjustment to market fluctuations and we’re adjusting our capacity accordingly,” plant manager Mona Edström-Frohm said in a statement. Volvo trucks had previously announced that 500 jobs will go away when the Umeå plant ceases assembly operations in 2015.

When asked if the release of the Van Damme video was timed to coincide with the layoff announcements, Volvo Trucks spokesman Anders Vilhelmsson vehemently denied any connection. “The release of these films aren’t at all directly related to the organization of our manufacturing,” he told the Swedish website The Local.

Click here to view the embedded video.

 

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Hammer Time: Young People Smell Funny http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/hammer-time-young-people-smell-funny/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/hammer-time-young-people-smell-funny/#comments Thu, 14 Nov 2013 17:40:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=650706 A herd of automotive journalists get led off into a dark room filled with oversized furniture and cheap snacks. It is where the ritual slaughter of truth takes place. A screen bigger than Wilt Chamberlain’s …. flashes in front of them as discordant music pulses and the beautiful people beam out their irrational exuberance of […]

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A herd of automotive journalists get led off into a dark room filled with oversized furniture and cheap snacks.

It is where the ritual slaughter of truth takes place. A screen bigger than Wilt Chamberlain’s …. flashes in front of them as discordant music pulses and the beautiful people beam out their irrational exuberance of owning the upcoming 2014 model.

The actors and actresses on the screen are all young, sexy, virile, obscenely joyful, and about as genuine as a thirty-three dollar bill. Which is A-OK for me. Because after the fifteen minutes of corporate infomercials filled with empty code words such as “Value”, “Best In Class”, and “Award Winning”, the head honcho of the press junket let’s me, and everyone else, off the hook with the biggest lie in the car business.

“We believe our core audience will be young people in their 20’s and 30’s.”

It doesn’t matter what car they are trying to jerk us off with, the words never change.

Cadillac XTS?

Click here to view the embedded video.

Young… 30’s…. a technology junkie…

Toyota Corolla?

Click here to view the embedded video.

20’s and 30’s… preferably someone who thinks that there were plenty of talented white dancers on Soul Train.

A Lincoln?

Click here to view the embedded video.

A rabid Jimmy Fallon fan… 20’s to 30’s…. who still thinks old Town Cars and floating sting rays are great ways to rebuild your brand image.

I have been through dozens of press car launches over the last two years, and every single one of them is lock, stock and loaded with a barrel full of the big lie.

“We… want… the… young. Old people? Not in our commercials! But you’re invited to visit the local dealership, and we’re hoping that the parental enablers within you will help improve our current demographics. But our NEW customers? Our army of customers for the future? Young.”

The young obviously include the young at heart, and of course, that includes all of us who have the money to blow on a new car. In otherwords, the average 60 year old.

Click here to view the embedded video.

These days the mature among us are supposed to be sold with plenty of dancing, spastic pop music, and enough good drugs to turn any rotten life into a Disney movie.

Am I being a curmudgeon? Not at all. This particular commercial struck me as one of those patronizing phony pitches that is designed for success in the boardroom. and failure in the marketplace.

The old man within the middle-aged me looked at this ad. and imagined a bunch of burnt out advertising executives trying to convey the following message.

“Our car is the cool car. Our cool is the hip car. Why? Shut up and look at the young people dancing. It’s like, all 70’s and shit.”

This is the same outstanding logic that brought us talking cartoon ducks selling Cadillacs.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Commercials featuring water, which were somehow supposed to introduce the Infiniti brand back in the day when all Datsuns were Nissans.

Click here to view the embedded video.

And the reanimated corpse that nobody knew outside our industry or cared about. Once again hocking cars… maybe…

Click here to view the embedded video.

Now if Harley Earl had ripped the flesh off that young guy’s neck. Carjacked the brand new 2003 Pontiac GTO, and hit enough curbs, pedestrians and stop signs to make the commercial resemble the game Grand Theft Auto, then it would have been something worth our attention.

Instead you’re left thinking, “What the hell was that all about? Buicks? Old guys with hats?”

This is the exact level of bewilderment that goes through my mind whenever I am reintroduced to the young buyer paradox. Young people are broke these days, for the most part. So why fucking lie?

Reality usually gets no more than a passing glance in the rear view mirror at these new model launches because doing so would require these guys to admit that that their best customer is the stupid one who buys the car at MSRP, and finances it at an 18+% interest rate,.Plus bullshit fees and GAP insurance.

While the guys pine away about their target audience. This is what I usually lead between the lines and the moving lips.

“We love all our customers Steve. Really! But we especially love the stupid ones who are bad at math.” If the guys who presented these vehicles would at least pay homage to their true prime customer, instead of creating fictional facsimiles based on modern day fashions, they would likely wind up with better marketing campaigns.

The Cadillac XTS was probably the best example of the type of marketing campaign where there is simply no audience and a complete dismissal of reality. After a few commercials featuring music and random images of the XTS, we were introduced to the then brand new CUE technology. This new system would be the killer app for getting Cadillac’s new young customers in the door.

Did the CUE technology enable hands-free communting? Was it some type of tablet, phablet, or mobile device? I came there with absolutely no idea what CUE meant.

So, I was treated to a solid two minutes of a guy using what seemed to be aikido type movements to guide all the instrumentation on the center console.

What the hell was that? Why?

Well, because in the future dictated by Cadillac, apparently knobs no longer work. This was the defining reason to buy the XTS. No knobs.

Click here to view the embedded video.

After the final video, we were given the grand announcement of who the target audience would be for the XTS.

Young.

30’s, maybe 40’s.

Technology junkies.

Someone who thought that Cadillac is a world class brand that can outperform other leading luxury brands including Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Lexus and Infiniti.

Any questions?

You bet your ass I had questions. After a couple of minutes I was mentally crossing out the questions that I simply couldn’t ask…

“I see that CUE uses hand movements for the radio and temperature controls. What about finger gestures? If I gave CUE the finger, or the circle jerk, would it automatically scan to the nearest talk radio station?”

“In the future, are there any black people who buy your product?”

“What do you guys have against knobs? Couldn’t you have simply constructed four round knobs that don’t feel like rubber dog chew toys?”

This is the one I ended up asking…

“The Mercedes E-Class, Audi A6 and BMW 5-Series all offer multiple engine choices along with their own unique high performance models. You are offering one engine and that one is shared with the Impala and LaCrosse. How can you realistically expect to compete with the best cars in this class?”

The fellow in charge of answering the questions did a little sidestep.

Click here to view the embedded video.

And let me in on who Cadillac’s future customer would be.

It…

Was….

The sleazy used car dealer? Pretty close.

The young Silicon Valley entrepreneur.

Now don’t get me wrong. Marketing teams in every industry want to show how their product is the best in the business. But to get people into that Promise Land when it comes to cars, you need a target that your audience can relate to.

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who think that Cadillac is a world class brand is not a target. It’s a fictionalized slip of the tongue that let me know the XTS had no chance of making it.

“Young people” is also not a target. When it comes to cars, not even an age group (or sex) can represent a valid target. 25 to 35 can range anywhere from investment banker to jail bait.

However, the worst target is not one that is too big, too small, or even a fictional one.

The worst target in the car business is the one that aims squarely at pleasing the guys in the suits, and nearly nobody else who is outside their brainwashed world.

Self-adulation of a brand, or a model, is the surest way of making any audience cynical of your credibility and intent.

Everybody says they’re the best.

clapton-is-god

It takes more than that to get the point across. In the case of the spastic dancing Corolla commercial, they could have used a canine, a cane, and a Clapton… and maybe some cocaine from the 70’s.

That would do the trick.

 

 

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Automaker, Movie Studio Sell SUV, Movie Sequel Together http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/automaker-movie-studio-sell-suv-movie-sequel-together/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/automaker-movie-studio-sell-suv-movie-sequel-together/#comments Tue, 15 Oct 2013 11:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=623857 If you get your automotive news online you’re probably familiar with the new ad campaign for the [car brand name] [vehicle name] starring [famous comedian] in his character, [fictional newscaster], from [hit movie name], the sequel to which will be released later this year. Publicity for the ad campaign says that [famous comedian] was so […]

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If you get your automotive news online you’re probably familiar with the new ad campaign for the [car brand name] [vehicle name] starring [famous comedian] in his character, [fictional newscaster], from [hit movie name], the sequel to which will be released later this year.

Publicity for the ad campaign says that [famous comedian] was so enthused at the creative comedic opportunities presented that he ended up ad-libbing dozens of commercial spots. That publicity was apparently successful because now the publicity campaign about the cross promotional ad campaign has announced that in a little more than a week since the ads were released on YouTube, over 2.7 million people have seen them. That figure doesn’t include those who have seen the [fictional newscaster] [vehicle name] ads on television. [Automaker headquartered in the Detroit area] is one of the major advertisers during Major League Baseball’s postseason playoffs.

The ad campaign has certainly been successful at getting the name of the [brand name] [vehicle name] out in front of the public. It’s possibly been even more successful at getting the names of [fictional newscaster], [famous comedian] and [movie sequel title] publicized. I’m sure that everyone involved with the new [vehicle name] ads are pleased with all the buzz. Next month, when the October sales reports are issued, we’ll know if that buzz translates to more [vehicle name]s getting sold.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Acura Pitchman Jerry Seinfeld: Car Advertising “Too Commercial-y”. Really? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/acura-pitchman-jerry-seinfeld-car-advertising-too-commercial-y-really/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/acura-pitchman-jerry-seinfeld-car-advertising-too-commercial-y-really/#comments Fri, 04 Oct 2013 20:17:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=606049 In a rather promotional feeling interview with Bloomberg, comedian and noted car collector Jerry Seinfeld discusses his growing relationship with Honda Motor’s Acura brand. Last year’s Super Bowl featured an ad for the upcoming revival of the NSX sports car scripted by Seinfeld himself, with a cameo from Jay Leno, riffing off of the two […]

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In a rather promotional feeling interview with Bloomberg, comedian and noted car collector Jerry Seinfeld discusses his growing relationship with Honda Motor’s Acura brand. Last year’s Super Bowl featured an ad for the upcoming revival of the NSX sports car scripted by Seinfeld himself, with a cameo from Jay Leno, riffing off of the two comics’ reputation as serious collectors. More recently Acura has become the sole sponsor of Seinfelds popular “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” webcasts. Jerry told the news agency that in general he’s not a fan of car advertising.

Seinfeld said, “For the most part, car advertising is a total turnoff to the consumer; I think it needs a complete reboot. It’s too commercial-y and fear-based. Stop showing us the cars driving through the desert.”

Seinfeld thinks that auto companies shouldn’t focus on product in their advertising, but rather getting consumers to like them.

“Don’t sell me your product, sell me you,” said Seinfeld. “You’re trying to make people like you. You don’t have to sell them your product. You have to make them like you.”

So if Jerry doesn’t like how automotive advertising is “too commercial-y” one can’t help but wonder if the wisecracking comedian has offered his opinion to Acura on their high concept “Made for Mankind” commercial that somehow equates owning a MDX crossover with humanity’s eternal quest for knowledge and adventure. I suppose that it sort of fits into Seinfeld’s notion of selling the brand, not the product, but the ad takes itself so sonorously seriously, that it’s easy to imagine Jerry’s reaction to something like “If your quest is to built the world’s smartest luxury SUV for mankind, you must hold yourself to the standard of mankind”. Really?

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Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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“Women Drivers” In Period Advertising http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/women-drivers-in-period-advertising/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/women-drivers-in-period-advertising/#comments Sat, 06 Jul 2013 07:25:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494351 Period advertising can be entertaining. The ads are often graphically interesting and it’s also kind of educational to read the copy. At the least they are historical artifacts, a window into the commercial mind of a different era. For the long Fourth of July holiday weekend we posted a piece on the Liberty Motor Car […]

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Period advertising can be entertaining. The ads are often graphically interesting and it’s also kind of educational to read the copy. At the least they are historical artifacts, a window into the commercial mind of a different era. For the long Fourth of July holiday weekend we posted a piece on the Liberty Motor Car Company, including the above ad. It was published sometime between 1916 and 1923, when Liberty went out of business. While reading the ad copy, I came across the following phrase:

“How about safety, in these days of women drivers and crowded traffic? Did you ever see an emergency brake applied with a touch of one finger that will stop a car without shock at full speed – surely – smoothly – safely. Try the Liberty emergency – and try it where life might depend on its action.

At first my reaction was “women drivers”? “How quaint and patronizing and sexist”, went through my head, which is rather funny considering that I’ve been called a troglodytic misogynist, being terribly allergic to any form of PC thought. Women have always been in charge, they give the next generation much of their values in every society that ever has been, and ever will be. I am, though, a father of two daughters and a granddaughter and I want them to be able to pursue whatever opportunities their talent and hard work might merit. I personally have nothing against women drivers, I taught my older daughter (and her mother, too) how to drive a stick. Heck, my ex shifts smoother than I do and has a spotless driving record, which I can’t say for myself.

Then I thought, maybe the reference to women drivers was not disparaging but rather appealing to protective impulses. That’s a theme common in a lot of recent commercials, and some not so recent. There’s the Subaru ad with the dad talking to a little girl playing behind the wheel of their car sitting in their driveway who turns into a 16 year old about to drive on her own for the first time.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Michelin has been using the tagline Because so much is riding on your tires since 1985, when the DDB ad agency created this ad. It’s been called one of the most effective advertising slogans ever and it’s all based on appealing to parents’ protective natures.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Interestingly, this 1987 version shows the changing roles of women, because it’s the mother, not the father who is buying Michelins so their child will be safe.

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I’ve written about the incessant cliched and misandrist stupid father commercials, so this Chevy truck commercial, with Tim Allen sonorous tagline “the things you carry are even heavier than the things you haul”, also a variation on the “keep my family safe” theme, hits all the right notes for me. It shows a capable, caring and strong but gentle dad dropping his kid off to day care on the way to work.

Click here to view the embedded video.

That’s why I thought it was silly when this old Goodyear ad was labeled as sexist. It’s just another variation on the same theme. Yes, back then men may have made most tire purchases, but if it was okay for a mother to be concerned about her daughter’s safety in 1987, it was okay for a husband to be concerned about his wife’s safety in 1967. Besides, unlike all those stupid dad commercials, it shows the wife actually accomplishing her task, getting to the airport in difficult traffic conditions, picking her husband up. I think what really bothered the scolds was that when she picked him up, she slid over and let him get behind the wheel, the ad ending with a kiss. I’m guessing that they could reshoot the same commercial today, not changing a thing other than making it a same-sex couple, and the same folks who call the old ad sexist would cheer it.

Click here to view the embedded video.

People were concerned about their families’ safety in 1917 as well. Perhaps rather than mocking women drivers, maybe the Liberty ad was appealing to them and their husbands. I’m not so sure that it’s putting down women as much as trying to sell the car to women and to husbands of “women drivers”, concerned for their safety in increasingly crowded traffic.

Alice Ramsey changing a tire on her renowned 1909 cross-country drive.

Alice Ramsey changing a tire on her renowned 1909 cross-country drive.

To be honest, I’m not even sure if “woman driver” had become a pejorative by the time the ad was published. Liberty was in business from 1916 to 1923. It was a time of women’s suffrage. Women drivers like Alice Ramsey and Dorothy Levitt (who held land and water speed records and wrote what is probably the only book that gives both fashion advice and instructions on how to rebuild a carburetor) were world-famous years before the Liberty was on sale. By the time the Liberty was being made, Kettering (another one of those “dead white males” whose inventions helped liberate women) had developed the electric starter and women drivers were indeed becoming more common.

Dorothy Levitt at the inaugural Brighton time trials, 1905

Dorothy Levitt at the inaugural Brighton trials, 1905

One of the Liberty’s selling features was ergonomics, the ad mentions how just a “touch” is needed at the controls. Note how the text that I’ve quoted says that with “touch of one finger” on the emergency brake the car can be brought to a complete halt safely (presumably to avoid an accident). Perhaps all that ergonomics and light touch was a selling point to women, implying that a driver didn’t need a man’s physical strength to drive the Liberty.

Dorothy Levitt in a Napier racer at Brooklands in 1908

Dorothy Levitt in a Napier racer at Brooklands in 1908

I’m not naive, and neither was whoever wrote the copy for this ad. Read it. It’s pretty sophisticated copy for an ad from not very long after Alfred Lasker more or less invented modern advertising. It’s possible Liberty was trying to have it both ways. They use the phrase “women drivers” but they don’t actually say anything disparaging. Maybe novelist L.P. Hartley’s famous opening line, “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there,” applies. Maybe it really was patronizing and sexist, but I’ve seen enough period advertisements from that era that were pitching cars and car accessories to women to think that Liberty was perhaps being true to its name and was as eager to make money off of women drivers as it was from men.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Silly Car Commercials http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/silly-car-commercials/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/silly-car-commercials/#comments Wed, 22 May 2013 18:04:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=489207 When was the last time you saw a major car company do something silly in a commercial? No, not like that Lincoln ad made from Tweets curated by Jimmy Fallon, I mean something deliberately silly. There may be more recent ones but  Isuzu’s “Joe Isuzu” ad campaign is the most recent one that I can […]

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When was the last time you saw a major car company do something silly in a commercial? No, not like that Lincoln ad made from Tweets curated by Jimmy Fallon, I mean something deliberately silly. There may be more recent ones but  Isuzu’s “Joe Isuzu” ad campaign is the most recent one that I can think of and that was so long ago that when young people see Joe’s I-Mark ads on YouTube they must ask, “Isuzu sold cars? I thought they just sold trucks “

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I suppose that Chevy is sort of trying with their current ads that seek to emulate the look and feel of The Office sitcom, only staged in a Chevy dealership, not a paper company sales office. Of course local dealers will still do schtick to get your attention. Few, though, get as surreal as the series of  ads that the Firesign Theater made for Jack Poet VW back in the day when sunshine was orange.

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So what’s your favorite silly car commercial. Manufacturers’ ads, like the long form commercial for the 1955 Ford Fairlane models at the top of this post, starring comedian Ernie Kovacs and his wife, singer Edie Adams, are preferred, but if you know of a particularly silly (or surreal) ad for a dealership, feel free to share the URL.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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