Tag: PR

By on September 27, 2011

[UPDATE: Ford has restored the video to Youtube. More details here.]

Detroit News columnist Daniel Howes reports in a column that Ford has pulled its controversial “bailout ad” after the White House asked “questions” about it. And apparently the take-down decision makes this a threatened piece of footage: in addition to yanking the spot from the airwaves, the version of the video we posted two weeks ago has been taken down from YOutube as well [a home recording of it can still be found here]. So what happened that Ford would throw its most popular ad in ages down the memory hole? Howes is cryptic…

Ford pulled the ad after individuals inside the White House questioned whether the copy was publicly denigrating the controversial bailout policy CEO Alan Mulally repeatedly supported in the dark days of late 2008, in early ’09 and again when the ad flap arose…

With President Barack Obama tuning his re-election campaign amid dismal economic conditions and simmering antipathy toward his stimulus spending and associated bailouts, the Ford ad carried the makings of a political liability when Team Obama can least afford yet another one. Can’t have that.
(Read More…)

By on September 26, 2011

Approval rating, based on the question “Do you think each of the following generally do a good or bad job of serving their consumers?”

Auto industry rejoice: you are no longer as despised as the banking industry! Harris Polls didn’t release data for the years 1999 and 2010 exaggerating some of the swings you see in this graph, but it’s safe to say the auto industry has clawed its way out of a post-bailout PR hangover. Sure, Big Auto is still trailing such glamorous industries as Online Retail and Packaged Food, and only barely beat Electric and Gas Utilities for the hearts of consumers… but after nearly falling into negative approval numbers in 2009, this is still a big comeback. And compared to the industry that Big Auto is most closely tied to, namely Big Oil, even 2009 was a “what PR problem?” kind of a year. Which is more than a little strange when you think about it…

By on September 25, 2011

Editor’s note: When I wrote about OnStar’s latest round of privacy concerns, I didn’t realize that the chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on privacy, technology and the law had voiced his own concerns in a letter published just the day before. Here is the letter, as published at Senator Franken’s website. OnStar has already said it will respond to specifically to the concerns of Senators Franken and Coons.

Ms. Linda Marshall, President
OnStar Corporation
400 Renaissance Center
Detroit, MI 48265

Dear Ms. Marshall:

We are writing to express our serious concern with OnStar’s announcement earlier this week that it would continue to track the GPS locations of its customers’ vehicles even if those customers have affirmatively ended their contractual plans with OnStar.  In this email announcement, OnStar informs its current and former subscribers that it reserves the right to track their locations “for any purpose, at any time.”  It appears that the only way to stop this tracking is to actually call OnStar and request that the data connection between OnStar and the vehicle be terminated; this service is not available online.  OnStar further reserves the right to share or sell location data with “credit card processors,” “data management companies,” OnStar’s “affiliates,” or “any third party” provided that OnStar is satisfied that the data cannot be traced back to individual customers.  See OnStar, Privacy Statement: Effective as of December 2011.  In a nutshell, OnStar is telling its current and former customers that it can track their location anywhere, anytime—even if they cancel their subscriptions—and then give or sell that information to anyone as long as OnStar deems it safe to do so.

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By on September 24, 2011

Concerns over privacy have haunted GM’s OnStar business for as long as it’s been around, and responses like this video have become something of an annual routine for OnStar’s executives. The latest round of furor involves changes to OnStar’s policies, which the New York Times describes thusly

The first regards what happens when a customer cancels the service. Until now, when OnStar service stopped, so did the vehicle’s two-way communications system. As of Dec. 1, however, that will not necessarily be the case. Vehicles of owners who no longer subscribe could still be monitored via the system’s still-active two-way cellular link.

The second policy change concerns the potential use of the data collected by OnStar, which includes information like the vehicle’s speed and location, current odometer reading, driver seat-belt use and air-bag deployment. Under the new terms, OnStar reserves the right to share that information with other companies and organizations, even data culled from motorists who no longer subscribe to the service but who have left the two-way communications connection open.

Of course, OnStar says GM customers can opt out of the service, but it’s making the case that by only sharing anonymous data, it can limit meaningful privacy concerns. But OnStar doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and as it continues to sell Americans on the notion that security is worth sacrificing some sense of privacy for, it will find itself increasingly pulled into a national debate.
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By on September 19, 2011

 

At the height of “bailout fever,” after TARP had been instituted but before the automakers had been completely bailed out, one argument that we heard a lot of from Detroit’s defenders was “how can you begrudge the manufacturing base a few billion when speculators at the banks are receiving far more support?” At the time, the argument seemed to me like a convenient way to shift attention away from Detroit’s failures and undercut the argument that consumers, not a credit crunch, were responsible for killing off GM and Chrysler… but at least then it still had some validity. Fast forward to today, and history has stripped it of all relevance, as it turns out the banks will likely be picking up the automakers’ bailout tab.

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By on September 19, 2011

“Chris” from Ford’s “Press Conference” commercial, which has received extensive media play recently from TTAC to Fox News, has uploaded a Youtube video in order to give his own, non-Ford-approved perspective on the controversy. He claims to be “just a guy who loves his F-150,” and insists that the commercial wasn’t staged or intended to be about the bailout. And based on his spontaneous thoughts in this video, the ideological component of his views do seem genuine. But don’t take my word for it, watch for yourself.

By on September 19, 2011

Lawyers for motorists in Missouri are looking to capitalize on recent discoveries regarding deceptive marketing campaigns orchestrated by red light camera companies. On Wednesday, The Simon Law Firm filed a class action lawsuit against American Traffic Solutions (ATS) and the city of Hazelwood seeking refunds for thousands of photo enforcement tickets issued without the sanction of state law.

“In bringing this class action, plaintiffs seek to expose what they and other Missouri citizens believe is an unscrupulous business venture between an out-of-state for-profit corporation and a municipal government seeking to fill city coffers,” attorneys Ryan A. Keane and John E. Campbell wrote.

(Read More…)

By on September 18, 2011

Once upon a time, this stuff was easy. When Jean Jennings needed a little extra pocket change all she had to do was… make an ad. Like this one, for the Silverado. Or this one, for Jeep (which I swear was still visible less than a year ago). Nowadays, however, you’ve got to be a little more careful about how you go about lending your “editorial credibility” to one of the brands you’re supposed to be covering rather than shilling for. So instead of the straight-up “Hi, I’m Jean Jennings, Editor-in-Chief of Automobile Magazine, and here’s why I love Chevy’s Silverado” pimpatorial of the past, you’ve got to layer on the irony, load up on non-car-related distractions (I’ve got it… a puppet!) and generally avoid the personal testimonial format as much as possible.
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By on September 17, 2011

The question of automotive preservation jogged an unblogged memory loose today, from earlier in this chaotic summer when I was in Wolfsburg, Germany. I was touring the Zeithaus, or “House of Time,” in Volkswagen’s sprawling Autostadt, taking in the remarkably well-curated exhibit of some of the most influential and important cars of all time. Unlike the GM Heritage Center, for example, the Zeithaus is not reserved for VWs alone, but includes fine examples of undeniably iconic cars from various marques. Organizing VW’s official museum in this way gives the brand a sense of sophistication, sending the message that VW knows quality even when it’s not the one producing it. And the Zeithaus’s curators use this well, offering up such flattering (if ultimately apt) comparisons as an Audi A2 poised alongside a Citroen DS.

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By on September 16, 2011

The rot-gut whiskey powered good ol’ boys who turned their fleet flite from revenooers into stock car racing must be flipping their ‘40 Fords in their graves. Nah, on second thought, they’d be so proud that their Prohibition-defying race car culture has swept the nation they’d be bemused by the news. Nascar is going effete… uh, green.

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By on September 16, 2011

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne’s petulant letter to UAW President Bob King sounded to me like a man angry with being kept waiting after a long flight, but according to the Detroit News, it has “derailed” the “carefully crafted timeline” for contract negotiations. To wit:

Sources close to the negotiations told The Detroit News that a deal was imminent with General Motors Co. when Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne sat down at his Mac computer and fired off a sharply worded letter to UAW President Bob King at 10 p.m. Wednesday, accusing the union leader of violating their gentlemen’s agreement to sign off on a deal by the 11:59 p.m. deadline.

Shortly after the letter was sent, talks stopped at both companies.

Chrysler and the UAW agreed to extend their current contract for one week. Talks resumed Thursday between the two sides, but nothing of substance is being discussed at the bargaining table, according to people familiar with the talks.

Actually, that’s not exactly what everyone is reporting…

(Read More…)

By on September 15, 2011

Just as Automotive News [sub] failed to cite Bertel’s ahead-of-the-game reporting on Terry Mcauliffe’s GreenTech Automotive firm as the inspiration for its coverage, McAuliffe himself has decided to ignore TTAC’s leadership in order to lash out at the leading industry paper’s write-up on his highly suspect venture. In response to AN [sub]‘s piece titled When you do the math, promoter extraordinaire Terry McAuliffe’s grand hybrid vehicle plan just doesn’t add up, the former Clinton fundraiser and DNC chair has written a feisty letter to the editor [sub], in which he argues

The Sept. 5 article about our efforts at GreenTech Automotive (“Real deal?”) stands in stark contrast with the Aug. 28 article in which you reported on partnerships between Toyota and Ford, Tesla, Aston Martin, Lotus and Salesforce.com (“Doing deals, Akio style”). The latter story says Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda “is breaking tradition to transform his ossified giant into a nimble competitor.”

Nimble competition is a key to success in our modern age of change and innovation. Yet you seem to take GreenTech to task for attempting just that. We aren’t trying to be GM, and we never plan on being bailed out by the U.S. government. We are embracing a different, leaner business model in which our world-class partners will play a key role in our success, and we are doing it with private capital.

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By on September 15, 2011

Derek Kreindler’s provocative defense of the Maserati Kubang sparked off an interesting discussion among TTAC’s Best and Brightest yesterday, about the the macroeconomic outlook for luxury brands. Sure, the American economy is struggling to stay out of a double-dip recession, credit is no longer as available as it was in the pre-Lehman days, and some argue that worse is still to come… but for the moment, the high end of the luxury market couldn’t be doing better. Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes tells Reuters [via AN [sub]] that his brand will set a new sales record this year, and that the outlook for 2012 is good, saying

I have not seen any reluctance to consider buying a Rolls-Royce. I do not feel that sentiment is deteriorating in the luxury market. We are dealing with people who are unusually wealthy and never really have to ask themselves, can I still afford this or not?

And it’s one thing to just talk, but Rolls is also putting its money where its mouth is, initiating a $16m expansion to its Goodwood plant. And it’s not the only luxury brand that seems to be confused about this “recession” that the peasants keep going on about…

(Read More…)

By on September 14, 2011

Last month, a group calling itself the National Coalition for Safer Roads (NCSR) obtained a great deal of exposure for red light cameras through the “National Stop on Red Week” publicity campaign. Several police departments around the country participated, with most news reports treating the issue as a public service announcement. Documents show the group coordinating this effort, NCSR, is controlled exclusively by the photo ticketing firm American Traffic Solutions (ATS).

(Read More…)

By on September 10, 2011

What does it take for a tuned Porsche Cayenne to be featured at TTAC? It must be nothing less than the most interesting tuned Cayenne in the world. And your eyes don’t deceive you… that’s exactly what you’re looking at. The Eterniti Hemera may or may not have advantages relative to the competition from Mansory, Ruf, Gemballa et al, but its story beats all of them (with the possible exception of Gemballa, er, hollow. Eterniti burst onto the scene when a Twitter squatter managed to spread all kinds of speculation about the company, including that it would use licensed RedBull F1 technology, adding to rampant speculation that the company was somehow associated with Nissan’s Infiniti brand. Of course Bertel Schmitt tracked down the truth, and even though Porsche no longer associates itself with its former dealer and Eterniti founder Kenny Chen, Bertel could have told you nearly a month ago that the Hemera would be a tuned Cayenne. So, though this glorified bodykit of a car may seem like something of a letdown, its strange social-media-parable storyline makes it… the most interesting tuned Cayenne in the world.

 

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