Tag: Marketing

By on August 15, 2017

friedman

It’s the stuff of which public relations nightmares are made.

For the past couple of years Dodge has sponsored Motor Trend‘s “Roadkill” show, which can be thought of as a generic white-label take on Fast N’ Loud. It’s worth noting that Dodge did several promotions with Rawlings before parting ways with him and settling for the Roadkill team; the brand appears to believe that its heartland audience is best reached through flamboyant/quasi-authentic/redneck-chic YouTube personalities. What that says about FCA’s view of its customers is an exercise best left to the reader.

This past weekend, Dodge and Roadkill teamed for “Roadkill Nights on Woodward,” a staged car show and street-drag event in Detroit. There’s been no small amount of interest in this among the company’s owner base and from what I can see the event was a rip-roaring success, chock-full of Vipers and Demons and whatnot. Whenever an automaker spends this much money on any public relations exercise, there is always a tremendous amount of data deep-diving done immediately afterwards to demonstrate ROI of the expenditure via social media visibility, buff-book coverage, and mainstream mentions. Given the big turnout both online and in real life, I’m sure Dodge and its marketing partners were looking forward to the Monday meeting where they could pat themselves on the back for a job well done.

As it turns out, this weekend was an absolute barn burner of Dodge-branded media exposure. Unfortunately, the Dodge in question wasn’t a Demon lifting its front wheels on Woodward. Instead, it was a V6-powered 2010 Challenger that was driven into a crowd of anti-white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, causing one fatality and multiple injuries.

The odd coincidence of a “Roadkill”-themed promotion with a Challenger-caused hit-and-run fatality in Charlottesville has pundits on both sides of America’s culture war salivating — and with this unforeseen notoriety comes an unusual, and nearly unprecedented, demand.

(Read More…)

By on July 27, 2017

lyft press kit photo, Image: Lyft

Taco Bell and ride-hail company Lyft announced plans this week to debut “a unique ride-thru” experience called “Taco Mode,” which will allow patrons to request a pit stop at the nearest Taco Bell location. Lyft claims it’s the perfect option for “passengers seeking the ultimate Taco Bell experience.”

While riders can already request to be driven to the restaurant with some of the worst-maintained bathrooms imaginable, Lyft promises the app makes the overall endeavor of  buying fast food “more convenient — and fun — than ever.”

Why would these companies join forces? According to the press release, it’s because they “are two like-minded brands at the forefront of technology and innovation.” Don’t laugh. After all, Taco Bell was the company that realized you could make a taco shell out of fried chicken, while Lyft was the organization that took Uber’s business model and added furry pink mustaches.

They also both serve the late-night community. The restaurant chain provides a “fourth meal” to individuals that are too drunk or stoned to cook and the ride-hailing service keeps them from endangering others by stopping them from operating a motor vehicle. On the surface, it seems like a natural fit for a genius cross-marketing opportunity — until you place yourself into the shoes of the driver plighted to slop these disgusting animals in the backseat.  (Read More…)

By on July 20, 2017

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

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

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

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

By on July 18, 2017

LeBron James Kia ad, Image: Kia

If a famous person sways your purchasing behaviour, you’re likely an idiot. Actors and other celebs rake in great coin shamelessly hocking products to the teeming masses, be it life insurance, Preparation H, overpriced jeans, or underperforming vehicles. To them, the suitcase of cash emits the siren song, not the product. (Don’t start up about athletes and sports-branded clothing. We’re not going in that direction.)

No company covets celebrity endorsements quite like automakers. Whether it’s longtime Anglophile Tom Brady shilling for Aston Martin or LeBron James’ sudden love for Kia’s spectacularly slow-selling K900, nothing gets eyes on the product faster than having someone famous stand next to it. Surely, none of us would ever fall for such a thing.

Celebrity endorsements, if you want to call it that, only bolsters a non-mouth-breather’s buying decision if it reinforces a previously held position. Already angling for a Chrysler Newport? Well, your favourite star from, say, Barney Miller, agrees it’s a sensible purchase. And several dollars less than Caprice! However, if said celebrity is someone you desire, rather than just respect or admire, it could be argued that there’s some subtle, subconscious influence at work. It it enough to tip the scales in favor of a certain product?

That’s something only you can answer. (Read More…)

By on July 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

By on July 11, 2017

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

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

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

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

By on July 7, 2017

VW of America Werner Eichhorn - Image: VolkswagenOne month ago, former Hyundai Motor America sales vice president Derrick Hatami departed Hyundai and ended up in a similar role at Volkswagen of America: executive vice president for sales and marketing.

Hatami moved into his new office on June 12, 2017. Less than two months from now, and two years after Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal erupted in September 2015, Hatami’s new boss will move into his new office. Imported from Skoda, Werner Eichhorn moves to Volkswagen’s North American region as the chief sales and marketing officer.

Together with Hinrich Woebcken, who became CEO of Volkswagen in North America in April 2016, seven months after #dieselgate broke, Hatami and Werner Eichhorn form the nucleus of an all-new sales team at Volkswagen of America.

And not a moment too soon. (Read More…)

By on June 30, 2017

Mazda Driver's Choice YouTube Screenshot - Image: Mazda YouTube ChannelThey’ve haunted you in your sleep. “The lines down here are seamless, like classic German design,” a British fellow says about the new Chevrolet Malibu.

You overhear them during the morning news breaks as you walk to your gate at the airport. “Business in the front, party in the back,” a young woman says, describing the Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback.

“I am surprised that it’s Chevy,” a woman responds after being asked what she thinks about Bowtie victories in J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study. You vomit a little in your mouth.

But in the eyes of General Motors, Chevrolet’s Real People, Not Actors campaign is working. And it appears Mazda thinks quite highly of the formula as well. (Read More…)

By on June 30, 2017

gibraltar_g1_tesla_motors_model_s

I doubt that very many of you have seen Robb Holland’s series over on Jalopnik about turning a salvage-title Z06 into a Pikes Peak car. That’s okay; unless you’re a particular fan of Corvettes or of Robb Holland you aren’t missing much.

At the heart of it, the series is a fairly typical exercise in what I call “Journalist Stone Soup Motorsports” — you call everybody in the world to get as much free stuff as you can and then you offer to mention them on your website. Some people are much better at this than others; Mr. Holland’s vehicular opus looks like it consumed about a thousand man-hours of free labor and maybe fifty grand worth of free stuff. Feel free to compare that to the incompetent promotional efforts of your humble author, who won an AER race last month with uh, um… some year-old, half-worn tires courtesy of Dunlop. (Thank you, Dunlop!) This is no doubt due to the fact that Robb is a handsome, well-liked television personality, whereas I’m primarily notable for being kicked out of NASA Performance Touring twice in four seasons.

There is, however, something of value in Robb’s most recent article. In the process of excusing the Corvette Z06 from overheating shenanigans (hmm… why does this sound familiar?), he asks, “Personally, I think the whole [overheating] thing is load of crap… First, how long should a street car be able to run on track before having to stop? One minute, five minutes, 100 minutes? Twenty-four hours? What’s the benchmark? A race track is a very different environment than the street. You can’t design a car to work well in both.”

It’s easy to dismiss this by pointing out all the cars that can complete SCCA and NASA sprint races with bone-stock drivetrains, but if the question isn’t relevant now, it’s about to be extremely relevant. The electric car is coming, and it’s not going to handle racing terribly well. In fact, it’s not even going to handle hot weather or off-track high speeds terribly well. So what does it need to be able to do?

(Read More…)

By on June 16, 2017

2017 Honda Keep The Peace Odyssey Commercial screenshot - Image: Honda YouTubeThey’re monsters, fighting over a squeezable toy bus before the journey has even begun. They’re inattentive rascals, wearing headphones and tuning out their parents before Mom is even in the van. They’re instigators and agitators, wholly dependent upon parents to keep the peace.

Or are they? Are children really so bad that Honda’s very first marketing campaign for the fifth-generation 2018 Odyssey has to present a negative slant on the life of a parent?

Maybe not. But in an age in which conflict is fostered during live news coverage all day long, in which children are perpetually entertained so they don’t need to entertain themselves, in which there’s not enough time before Zoey’s pottery class and Aiden’s play date to source a conventional resolution, Honda’s Magic Slide seats produce a brilliantly eye-catching commercial, with a little help from animation.

Of course, my kids would never tussle like this. (Read More…)

By on June 12, 2017

2017 Lexus IS commercial screenshotWe’ve got more than a few years of driving remaining, don’t you think?

It’s 2017. People still grasp steering wheels, still prod throttle pedals, still check blind spots (sometimes), still use their left hand to flick a signal stalk, and still stop for red lights by firmly pressing a right foot against a brake pedal. Last I checked, in my driveway sits a two-seat convertible with a six-speed manual transmission.

But in a 30-second spot that aired repeatedly during the final game of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Hockey Night In Canada, Lexus strikes fear into the soul of drivers everywhere in order to get you into a 2017 Lexus IS today. Today, before they — whoever “they” are — come for your manual transmissions and your steering wheels and your pedals. Before your driver’s car is replaced by an autonomous pod.

“Enjoy the thrill of driving,” Lexus says. “While you still can.” (Read More…)

By on June 6, 2017

2017 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD, Image: General Motors

Like a rolling stone. Like a rock. Like a G6 (not the Pontiac version). There are many descriptors out there, but GMC feels nothing fits its owners quite like “pro.” The trucks are still Professional Grade (TM), but advertisements are supposed to be all about us, about we, about me.

And so, GMC plans to embark on an advertising campaign calling its owners just that. The all-utility brand’s “Like A Pro” campaign kicks off this month, with a number of tailored TV and online spots showcasing “those who reach higher in everything they do,” according to the automaker.

Marketing efforts are fraught with peril, so no ad counts as a slam dunk until the public gives it a resounding thumbs up or, alternatively, mocks it out of existence. Let’s take a closer look at one of these spots. (Read More…)

By on May 25, 2017

Vinay Shahani Toyota VP Marketing - Image: Toyota

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

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

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

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

By on May 6, 2017

chevrolet real people

Not since “the Caddy that zigs” has a General Motors marketing campaign spurred so many jokes among the automotive punditry and public alike. GM’s much-lampooned “Real People, Not Actors” commercials have become the target of spoof videos mimicking the often eye-rolling exploits of ordinary human beings mistaking Chevrolet Cruze and Malibu models for taut, European luxury sedans. Expect more of those.

Despite the comedic backlash, General Motors claims it has no plans to back down from the ads, ensuring more spoof fodder for years to come. (Read More…)

By on May 4, 2017

Jeep Compass ad

The only thing missing is Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way bleating from the speakers, but songs from 1977 often don’t play well with those born after 1980. (Or 1982, depending on your source.) Slow, maudlin hipster “rock,” if you can call it that, is how you reel in those youngsters these days.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, knowing exactly what it wants the second-generation Jeep Compass to mean to the most sought-after segment of car buyers, is placing its sales pitch to scruffy Millennials in a new ad campaign.

As Millennial automotive marketing is usually a cringe-inducing affair, each new product launch and ad campaign targeting this generation sparks morbid interest in cynical observers. Hence, this post. (Read More…)

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