By on January 11, 2007

twreck222.jpgThere’s a Lincoln ad on the back cover of this month's Automobile mag. It’s a rear three quarter shot of an MKZ on an empty road in a moody landscape, parked in front of a train crossing. A five line poem referring to astronautical countdowns, racehorses at the gate and quivering arrows hovers above the barrier. The last line is a little unsettling: “Ready or not, here I come.” (Uh, you might want to wait for that train to blow by.) The ad raises an interesting question: does Lincoln’s marketing department have any idea who might want to buy their car?

An hour after contemplating the ad, I caught site of a huge toothy grill glinting in the winter sun. My first thought: I’ve unfairly dismissed the MKZ’ sex appeal. As the rest of the model’s mid-market metal hoved into view, I returned to my original assessment. But I was captivated by the driver. She was straight out of central casting. Harry? Send me a woman of a certain age with perfectly coiffed grey hair, wearing a twin set and pearls and half glasses attached to her ample neck by an elegant chain. The MKZ suited her like a dry martini.

Well of course it did. I didn’t need to face her withering stare in a focus group to know she and her not-so-hot-rod Lincoln were made for each other. Bargain basement snobs need apply. More to the point, she was definitely NOT the type of woman to sit in her MKZ in the middle of nowhere waiting for a train barrier to rise so she could hammer the throttle and disappear in a cloud of front wheel-drive rubber. I could easily imagine her tapping the wheel with a manicured fingernail, pursing her lips, looking at her watch, wondering about lunch. 

I’m not saying this highly groomed battle axe was a “typical” MKZ buyer. I have no doubt Lincoln’s marketing department has discs of demographic data detailing the age, sex, income, location and belt size of their average customer– and Dame Edna’s not it. Even if she was, I’m certain there were long meetings on Madison Avenue and in The Glass House hammering out who the average Lincoln MKZ buyer should be– or who the average buyer thinks they should be– and it’s not her. Still, I’m beginning to believe automakers’ marketing efforts are more than a little misguided.

I discussed this idea with my local freelance marketing maven. Marketing be damned, I argued, it’s all starts with product, which begins with branding. Does it really matter how Detroit pitches a ride if it’s another one of those almost-but-not-quite-there products that doesn't conform to the brand's identity (if it even has one)? "Reach higher" sounds good to me, but how about making a car worthy of aspiration? He countered that there’s nothing particularly wrong with Detroit's brands or machinery. They just don’t know how to sell the metal. What successful person buys a Cadillac based on two-thirds of the self-evident truths identified by The Declaration of Independence– especially when its sold out of the automotive equivalent of K-Mart?

After realizing that not everyone shares my product passion (if they did, no one would buy half the crap I’ve driven), I’m beginning to appreciate his perspective. To wit: just inside Automobile’s cover, there’s a double-page spread with an Edge hovering over New York’s Hudson River (what is it with flying cars these days?). A couple promenades in the foreground. The woman is looking the other way. The guy is looking in the direction of the CG crossover– without actually seeing it. In the background, another couple is oblivious to the levitating automobile. The headline? “The Edge is never dull.” The body copy? “All-new Edge with attention-grabbing styling.”

Hang on; the Edge IS dull. Handsome yes; but dull. So what? Surely there are plenty of people who like that sort of thing. Surely Ford should identify what really makes the Edge unique and sell THAT. All this demographic obsession– where automakers shell out millions of dollars to identify a model’s “ideal” customer and get them to spill their subconscious desires– strikes me as an enormous waste of time and money. Why not just build something phenomenal and tell people about it?

In fact, the car industry is suffering from the same over-dependence on market research that led to Hollywood’s steady stream of po-faced rubbish. Of course, not ALL of it’s garbage– if only because of the law of averages is still in effect. But it’s clear that market research is filtering backwards into the design process, exerting more and more influence on what carmakers are building for whom. I’m not saying they should adopt the Field of Dreams strategy, but I reckon strong products from strong brands find their own market. Just look at the old folks clambering aboard Scion xB’s. How insanely great is that?

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124 Comments on “Automotive Marketing: Bad Landing, Wrong Airport...”


  • avatar
    Sid Vicious

    FWIW During my long commute every day I see a lot of Zephyrs and they ususally seem to be driven by 30 something guys. But that’s surely a local phenomenon, as everybody gets a discount here, and many are probably company lease cars. Perhaps Ford had a “deal” too good for their mid-level managers to pass on. It’s a quick way to boost monthly sales on one particluar model.

    What really cracks me up these days are the names that Ford seems to assign to their target customer. I really really don’t get marketing and never will, but do they have to create “Jane” and “Joe” and talk about them like they’re actually sitting in the room?

    And, once again in my little piece of the world, the real world people that buy these vehicles are nothing like Joe (the 36.5 year old 6′ 1″ metrosexual with a black lab that he like to play frisbee with in the park on Sundays after stopping at Starbucks….) They’re just normal people in middle America.

  • avatar
    dwford

    I sell these for a living, and the MKZ is attracting exactly the type of customer Lincoln wants, maybe not the beautiful people in the ads, but the age and income demo is spot on. Just yesterday we had a young expecting couple trade their (his) ’06 Mustang GT for an AWD MKZ. Last month I sold one to a couple in their early 40’s with 3 school age kids. Combined they made 6 figures. The MKZ is better than you think.

    As far as the Edge goes, every saleman in the place has a list of people waiting for it. We have only gotten 1 so far and it lasted 2 days on the lot. Same with the MKX.

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    This may or may not be on topic, but I would like to see an end to nearly all marketing–in its current form anyway. I hate seeing ads that pitch a product as though it will change my life or somehow complete me. Don’t try to make me feel like a bad parent for not buying clorox wipes, etc.

    I’d like to see all ads as spec sheets. Here’s the product. Here’s what it does. Take it or leave it.

    The only exception is for funny ads to create brand awareness. I love funny ads, but I hate targeted marketing.

    somewhat related:

    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/38845

  • avatar

    dwford: Congrats on the sales! It's nice to know Lincoln's still moving the metal. I'm a little confused about the "type of customer" Lincoln wants. Your first and second example seem very different in terms of their demographic profiles. Who is the MKZ and Edge's target demo, and how did you arrive at that conclusion? Did Ford give its dealers/sales folk guidance on this? And if you have a moment, do you reckon these are the type of people who'd be turned on by a rising railroad barrier? NICKNICK: Two words: Consumer Reports.

  • avatar
    dwford

    I will agree that most of Ford's recent ads suck. How can they get people who have written Ford off back into the showroom when they don't show or describe the car and it's benefits??

  • avatar

    I wrote a Ph.D. dissertation on this topic based on spending a year-and-a-half inside GM. Over-relying on market research has nothing to do with bad products and bad marketing. The problem is that, on the organizational level, these organizations just aren’t very smart. The people within them often are smart, but the organizations are not properly organized and operated to extract the best ideas and meld them to create focused, precisely targeted products.

    Exec summary of the report that resulted:

    http://www.truedelta.com/execsum.php

    Just a couple of weeks ago a Ford product development engineer emailed me to report that this summary totally describes what he sees inside that organization.

    On the ideal vs. actual customer, there are two possible explanations. First is that actual customers aspire to be like the ideal customer, and you want to target the people your customers want to be, not who they actually are. Second, this “active thirtysomething” target may just be a lazy cliche.

    When I was inside GM they had to describe what each product was about, its “reason for being.” Many of these descriptions said something about being for “active professionals.” I pointed this out to one of the older designers, now retired. He joked that he wanted to design a car for lazy couch potatoes, or something to that effect.

  • avatar
    seldomawake

    the car industry is suffering from the same over-dependence on market research that led to Hollywood’s steady stream of po-faced rubbish

    Great observation, one I’ve made myself a fair bit.

    So, here’s my $0.02, regarding how this currently works:

    There’s no denying that demographics lean towards preferred vehicles. What makes a demographic fall in love with, and buy lots of, a particular vehicle? What principal components define this vehicle?

    If these components can be analyzed (note to engineers: Check out Principal Component Analysis, or Independent Component Analysis. Why don’t they teach these tools in marketing classes?) and focused on, the resulting vehicle will obviously be a tremendous success, capturing the target demographic.

    So, let’s look at said demographic. Let’s try to figure out what these components are, and focus on them. This will result in a winning market strategy. This also has the intended consequence of “exerting more and more influence on what carmakers are building for whom.” (Well put, by the way.)

    So, what’s the alternative? How would you tackle the problem?

    I reckon strong products from strong brands find their own market.

    Ah. How do you define a “strong product”? How do you come up with a reliable, reusable procedure better than the one above to continually review your definition of a “strong product,” specifically, one that’s better than the one above?

    Hm. I wonder if that isn’t the marketing Holy Grail I’m describing above.

  • avatar
    seldomawake

    Blimey. In the time it took for me to type up my comment, Michael Karesh just answered my question with no less than a PhD. dissertation. Wow.

  • avatar

    Michael: Excellent work, but I don't see any significnt disconnect between your conclusions and mine. You wrote "…tacit knowledge (knowledge that cannot be proven or even verbally expressed; a.k.a. judgment, expertise) must be effectively cultivated and applied. No amount of market data, design criteria, or common process specificity can eliminate this imperative." If I read you right, you found that GM's teams were divorced from the product's overall gestalt. My contacts within several automakers tell me that focus group research is driving more and more product-related decisions at an earlier and earlier stage in the design process. This may not cause the problems you identified, but it certainly amplifies their effect, 

  • avatar
    aakash

    A recent Edge commercial, depicts it driving on the edges of buildings,on just 2 wheels….wonder what that is supposed to convey to their target customer.

    If that was pun intended….it wasn’t ‘punny’!

  • avatar

    seldomawake: Here are some examples of what I'm talking about… Jeep is a strong brand. Its vehicles are inherently rugged, off-road capable and reasonably priced. Any diversion from that remit will [eventually and inevitably] mire the brand in the kind of deep trouble that requires serious winch work. If they build brand faithful products, the marketing suggests itself: vehicles surmounting conditions that stop lesser machines. SMART is a new, yet extremely strong brand. Its vehicles are inherently small, stylish and fuel efficient. If they build brand faithful products, the marketing suggests itself: vehicles nipping around/parking in trendy urban locales. On the flip side… Chrysler is a weak brand. Its vehicles are inherently nothing. They range from cheap panel vans to bad ass blingmobiles to minivans to hairy chested sports cars to retro muscle cars. As they don't build brand faithful products (choose an indentity fer Chrissake), their marketing is all over the show. The web site doesn't even bother with a tag line.  Chevrolet is an ailing brand. Its vehicles are inherently working class, except when they ain't (Corvette, Tahoe LTZ). As not all their products conform to the brand proposition, their markeing seems a bit goofy and disjoined. An Aveo on top of the Empire State Building with "An American Revolution" running down the side of the page and body copy touting that it's larger than it seems? Huh? In terms of branding creating product, here's the deal: if you have a strong brand, all design questions are easily answered– often based on the "tacit knowledge" of which Mr. Karesh speaks– without resorting to reams of [often misleading] real world data.  Jeep designer: what kind of seat should the Wrangler have? Answer: a seat that keeps occupants in place during extreme off-roading that's easy to clean yet comfortable enough for long trips to and from the trail, and no fancy electronics that can't take major abuse. SMART designer: what kind of seat should the FourTwo have? Answer: a way cool-looking chair that's perched high enough to see around traffic and find parking spaces that's comfortable enough for traffic jams.  Lincoln designer: what's for lunch? 

  • avatar
    Michael Martineck

    The disconnect between the woman driving the Lincoln and the rail crossing ad could be the magazine . If I’m trying to reach females, 35 to 54, I’m not running ads in Automobile. I’d like to the see the ads they’re running in Town and Country.

    Of course, this might be a perfect ad. I’m going to have to find it and take a look. There could very well be an escapist fantasy this ad plays to which is not overtly middle-age mom, but hits a hot button therein. Every time I watch a focus group I end up being surprised. Every time, for the last 22 years. Ads you might think were boyish score well with women and, though much more rare, girl ads score with boys. It ain’t science. The marketing department only wishes it were.

  • avatar
    Hutton

    I am an avid whitewater kayaker, which judging from SUV commercials is an inexplicably coveted demographic to car companies. I rarely see XTerra’s (or even SUV’s for that matter) at the river, so there’s a bit of a disconnect between the advertisers fantasy land and reality.

    The “Active thirtysomething” is also a strangely coveted demographic, because I’m sure it’s only a fraction as big as the “Lazy thirtysomething” demographic.

    Car’s are not marketed to real people. The marketers invent these characters like “Xtreme Sportzzz College Dude” or “Urban Hip Active Young Female Executive” and try to sell cars to them. No wonder real people aren’t buying them.

  • avatar
    indar20

    I saw an ad for the Honda Accord yesterday that was very simple: An Accord raises up and slowly spins around while, over soft Muzak, a narrator talks about the great resale value. Unless you have a really good idea (e.g. the multiplying VW Rabbits), it’s better to do a straightforward, boring ad than to try to be all hip.

  • avatar
    Sid Vicious

    This is my take on what makes vehicles desirable and therefore successful. The brands most admired/desired in this country are typically Japanese and German. (At this point in time.) Japanese and German automakers hold engineering above all else. A car is a machine afterall, not a “lifestyle statement.”

    My knowledge of the cultures inside these successful automakers is limited, but I have to believe that they have not yet been engulfed by MBA disease. The decision making process inside the Detroit 2.5 is 100% University of Michigan MBA driven.

    I’ve turned a wrench on enough different brands of cars and motorcycles to see a real difference. When engineering excellence is put first, it ultimately sells vehicles. Maybe the vast majority of BMW buyers can’t appreciate this (cylinder walls coated with silicon dioxide enbedded in a layer of nickel?) but they desire the vehicles anyway.

    The only major motor manufacturer succeeding on image/lifestyle that is not backed by solid engineering is Harley Davidson (More lawyers than engineers. Ha!)

  • avatar
    seldomawake

    Robert:

    I think I understand a little better now. To reiterate, you’re saying that brands should find the one thing that they can be great, really great, at, and do that one thing. Is that about correct?

    Jim Collins in Good to Great calls this the Hedgehog Concept. In the more laid-back The Fifth Discipline, (possibly referred to by Michael Karesh in his summary?) this is called a Shared Vision. Whatever you call it, even if you don’t stick a fancy moniker to it, the concept is sound. Furthermore, this does seem in-line with the general tone of the deathwatches.

    To me, armchair enthusiast and a professional in an entirely unrelated field, this seems perfectly intuitive. Makes good sense, if you will.

    The denizens of Detroit corner-offices must know this. However, for some reason, even when assisted legions of marketers and high-level MBAs, many of whose paychecks I’d kill for, don’t see the way you (and, in fact, I) do..

    Frankly, I’m predisposed to believe that people are competent, and that since they’re paid so highly, they must deserve it. Basically, they’ve got to be seeing something we’re not.

    So, here’s my question: where’s the disconnect?

  • avatar

    seldomawake: Karesh nailed it: the organization is at fault. GM is run by a Hardvard Biz School grad who never worked a day outside of GM. Ford is run by a man who forgot to kill all the lawyers first. Chrysler is run by.. who is it again? Further down the food chain, it's an impenetrable jungle of bureacracy. Period. I've said it before, I'll say it again: America is home to some of the brightest and most talented car people the world has ever seen. If the companies they work for could just get the Hell out of the way , they'd produce products that would kick ass and be the envy of the world. Oh wait; they already do.

  • avatar
    booboojeebies

    Two words: Consumer Reports.

    Maybe its just me, but I can never take consumer reports too seriously. It seems that they take every car without an understanding of what that car is trying to achieve and who its target buyer is. I wouldn’t be surprised if they claimed “the 911 is short on grocery space”.

  • avatar
    philbailey

    The Honda “parts in motion” ads, wherein the components of a Honda car roll and bang into one another, leading eventually to a picture of the car itself, is probably the most effective car ad that has ever been devised.

    The sight of a a pair of windshield wipers “swimming’ across to the next component makes my poor old engineering heart yearn for a CAD/CAM project of my own.

    The ad is clever, emphasises engineering content and grabs your attention in a most delightful way.

    This ad did not make it to North America, so far as I know.

    Which may be quite significant, given the huge divide in car ownership attitudes in Europe and America.

  • avatar
    FreeMan

    seldomawake:

    Strong product/strong brand:

    Porsche.

    When you say Porsche, everyone thinks 911. Every vehicle they produce exibhits 911. The Cayenne was soundly hated by all Porschefiles until it came out – it seems to have won over most of them – but it had a 911 face and the very best 911 handling one can put in a 4000+lb vehicle. Now that it’s out, recognized, and mostly accepted, it’s developing a bit of its own look, but it’s still identifyable as a Porsche. The ad campaign was all about handling and performance with one added dimension – off road.

  • avatar
    disgruntled

    Yes, but great brands tell the engineers what kind of great products to build.

    I don’t believe that. In a literal sense, it’s the executive branch that tells the engineers what to build, the brand just goes along for the ride.

  • avatar
    chainyanker

    “It’s a rear three quarter shot of an MKZ on an empty road in a moody landscape, parked in front of a train crossing………..she was definitely NOT the type of woman to sit in her MKZ in the middle of nowhere waiting for a train barrier to rise so she could hammer the throttle and disappear in a cloud of front wheel-drive rubber.”

    A new commercial shows a Lexus accelerating down a runway to a spot where another car that’s being dropped will land and just beats it there to avoid being crushed but I have yet to see someone try that in the real world. I guess Lexus has totally missed its target demographic and is utterly doomed.

  • avatar

    disgruntled: Yes, but great brands tell the engineers what kind of great products to build. chainyanker:  Your sarcasm misses the point. As, obviously, does Lexus. The ad in question seems distinctly off-message to me, as is their recent decision to go chasing BMW M, Mercedes AMG and Audi S products. Maybe I need to see the market research…

  • avatar
    Pch101

    There is often a tendency in these discussions to do the classic lob of the baby along with the bathwater, and to blame the master’s degree and the marketing department for the problem. There’s really nothing wrong with market research, and you can turn to successful organizations such as Proctor & Gamble for just one example of how well it works when it is properly executed.

    The problem with market research is not in the concept, but in the willingness of management to overreach with the conclusions of the data. Market research has been abused in Detroit to the point of absurdity, with “badge engineering” its crowning achievement. The Big 2.5 are so cynical about the intelligence of the customer that they sincerely believe that marketing spin, by itself, is enough to sell products that are otherwise undesirable, when a supreme marketer such as P&G knows that the product also has to deliver on the expectation, even if it is as simple as a humble bar of soap.

    Market research also assumes that customers actually know what they want well enough and deeply enough that they can articulate and express it to the researcher, and that posing the right series of questions will reveal it. But the reality is is that the average consumer has never given much thought to these products and has certainly never crafted a Weltanschauung that explains it.

    Not that they should need to. While studies are useful, there is no demographic segment that particularly demands or likes poor NVH, cheap plastic, bad ergonomics, second-rate fit-and-finish, sloppy handling or supremely bad reliability. Some segments may place more emphasis on certain qualities than others — it’s unlikely that your average M3 buyer is as reliability-conscious as is your average Camry buyer — but there is some combination of qualities that everybody expects, even if they can’t quite rank it or express it accurately when quizzed.

    The US variant of the Accord and the Camry make it obvious to me that both Honda and Toyota do an outstanding job of understanding their US customers and giving them what they want. You can bet that both firms also conduct significant amounts of market research and hold more than their share of focus groups in order to attain this understanding. But I suspect that they use those findings to create a better overall package, not to justify the use of antiquated designs or second-rate engineering. A well-designed product will both serve the market and offer sufficient engineering to exceed, not just meet, expectations.

  • avatar
    kasumi

    The difference between the dropping the Lexus out of the plane ad to the Ford Edge advertisements is enormous. The Lexus ad just screams, this car is fast and we have so much money we’ll drop one out of a plane!* Make your own decisions about our car and decide if it is right for you.

    The Edge advertisements are just so dull with their “ideal customer” shouting be like this person!

    In Lexus’ case (and most European/Japanese) brands, the subtlety works.

    K.

    *I didn’t read the fine print to see if this was faked.

  • avatar
    seldomawake

    Robert:

    Karesh did in fact nail it. It never ceases to amaze me what competent people, when organized badly, can do. He saw it, but for some reasons executives at these companies don’t. Where’s the disconnect? Again, it seems simple:

    So the “focus and optimize” approach that you describe may be the way to fix things. On the other hand, you said it yourself: General Motors is, in fact, general motors. The company’s mission, the very reason for its existence, is to make general motors.

    Even then, the answer seems simple, as you’ve indicated time and time again. For each of its eight brands, focus and optimize. Repeat if necessary. You’ll end up with eight highly specialized, highly desirable brands, each catering to a particular demographic.

    This, as you mention, has got to be balanced against “sharing management, designers, workers, models, parts, marketing, etc.” When beancounters win, we get blah cars all around. When car guys win, we get the ‘vette (despite the interior).

    Again, simple from our perspective. It should be even simpler for folks such as Mr. Lutz and friends — after all, they do live it day after day. So why isn’t it?

    Is it just a very extreme case of “the devil’s in the details?”

    This seems to be way off-topic at this point. Should this wait until your next deathwatch?

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    I find the use of Lincoln to demonstrate this point particularly apt. To me the Lincoln MKR concept is a perfect example of (flawed) market research or market fantasy filtering backward into the design process. Lincoln has had a brand identity in the past. I’m not so sure it ever was or should be peaky high performance turbo V6 machines. How do you rationalize changing Lincoln into a downmarket Acura + blingtastic-ginormous SUV?

    On the other side, I think Ford’s focus on aligning the vehicle’s sounds (engine note, door closing, chimes, etc.) with a brand DNA is a good application of market research filtering back to design.

  • avatar
    Cowbell

    aakash,
    I have to agree that that Edge commercial is one of the worst I’ve seen. It’s even worse than these lifestyle commercials because it is basically a 30 second play on words.

    To Ford’s credit, I think the new Fusions commercials (with the camry/accord comparison) are very good ads. Even if you don’t think they were fair, the message is that other regular car buying people think the Fusion is just as good (or better) than the Camry Accord, so why not buy the less expensive one. Agree with it or not, it seems like a good way to sell the product.

  • avatar

    Pch101: Yes. As Bob Dylan put it: you gotta serve somebody. If market research is used to serve the brand's greater good, it can be extremely useful. If it's used to [un]define a brand, it's a cancer. P&G is an excellent example of "best practice." But never underestimate the abilitiy of an ambitious exec to muddy the waters simply to justify their existence. Even some of P&G's products are guilty of needless, heedless brand extensions. guyincognito: Agreed. The MKR tells me nothing about the Lincoln brand, other than it's flailing about without [busta] rhyme or reason. While I'm no slave to retro, I sometimes wish some of these "lost" brands would simply re-issue a modern version of their last best car and start the evolution again. cowbell: "Even if you don’t think they were fair…" As an American and the publisher of a website called "The Truth About Cars," I have a very hard time indeed getting past that qualifier. Cheating is not the way Fordward.

  • avatar
    mistercopacetic

    In Re: marketing’s effect on selling cars, I have three words for you: “Days Go By.” After that commercial came out, there was not one kid I knew under the age of 25 who didn’t want a Mitsubishi Eclipse, and several actually eventually got one. No one cared about the 0-60 time, the lateral g’s, the sidewall rating, reliability, cost-of-ownership, etc. They just wanted a rolling club.

  • avatar

    mistercopacetic: It's critical to try to see these things in a long-term perspective. Killer ads and brand extensions (e.g. Cayenne) can create a dramatic short term lift. No question. But as Mr. Leikanger has pointed out, a brand's ability to fulfill its promise affects its long-term viability. If I fall in love with an Eclipse, buy one and torque steer into a tree, I may not want another one. Ever.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    The Honda “parts in motion” ads, wherein the components of a Honda car roll and bang into one another, leading eventually to a picture of the car itself, is probably the most effective car ad that has ever been devised.

    This ad did not make it to North America, so far as I know.

    Yes, a lovely commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyN9y0BEMqc

    At 2:00 long ($$$), the commercial features a RHD EU Honda Accord wagon, and required hundreds of takes to get correctly as no CGI was used. So in its current incarnation, no go in NA.

  • avatar
    kasumi

    The Ford comparison commercials are awful. The fact that they are trying to sell it on handling is the wrong way to go. Accord and Camry are both really good cars, their handling may not be as good as a freakin’ ALL WHEEL DRIVE Fusion, but that is not the only consideration you make when buying a car. How is the handling on the Fusion compared to the other members of this class- Altima, Passat and Mazda’s 6?

    It would be great if Fusion could do a feature by feature, price comparison against an A4 or BMW. Demonstrating, how you get more for your money. Didn’t Nissan or someone do this – where the idea was you can buy our car and a boat!

    Ford seems to be throwing everything against the wall – remember the Bill Ford commercials from a few months ago? The divorce commercial? The stupid Edge driving up a skyline? Don’t get me started on the newest Focus commercial.

    Its the cars dammit and the inconsistent message reeks of desperation.

    K.

  • avatar

    Man..I sure hope that woman doesn’t read TTAC — ;-)

  • avatar
    jazbo123

    In fact, the car industry is suffering from the same over-dependence on market research that led to Hollywood’s steady stream of po-faced rubbish. Of course, not ALL of it’s garbage–

    RF, I’m going to go ahead and disagree with you. As far as Hollywood movies are concerned, they are all rubbish and have been for at least the last 10 years. Even the most acclaimed ones substitute formulaic violence and tired old subwoofer soundtracks for creativity and thought.

    I hope the car industry never gets as bad as Hollywood seems to be.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    Hutton: I am an avid whitewater kayaker, which judging from SUV commercials is an inexplicably coveted demographic to car companies. I rarely see XTerra’s (or even SUV’s for that matter) at the river, so there’s a bit of a disconnect between the advertisers fantasy land and reality.

    Regional differences might account for your perceived disconnect. I frequently take my sons mountain biking on a great trail that follows the shore of a North Texas lake. The locale is also frequented by wind surfers, fishermen (and fisherwomen) and hikers. The trailhead parking lot is dominated by XTerra’s, Wrangler’s, Liberty’s, RAV4’s, CR-V’s, Subaru Wagons, pickup trucks of all stripes, and recently Audi A3’s. What I don’t see many of are sedans (not even for the hikers), luxury SUV’s, bling-bling SUV’s or large SUV’s (e.g. Tahoe, Suburban, Expedition, etc.). Here at least, the sporty lifestyle vehicles are being utilized as advertised. Now I just need to go there more often as evidenced by my bloating belly and burgeoning buttocks.

  • avatar
    Cavendel

    Jazbo123 wrote:

    As far as Hollywood movies are concerned, they are all rubbish and have been for at least the last 10 years.

    That is quite the blanket statement. While there are lots of poor movies coming out of Hollywood, there have been many excellent movies in the last 10 years too.

    I would say that Hollywood has a better percentage of hits than either GM or Ford.

  • avatar
    Michael Martineck

    According to the Wall Street Journal, Lincoln’s new spokeperson for the MKX is Amsale Aberra, a 52-year old fashion designer based in New York City. Her ads have started in urban and minority markets, but will start to move into general audience markets, for both print and TV, during the course of the year. I think Lincoln’s ad agency (Uniworld Group for this batch) has a pretty good idea who might be interested in this tall wagon-thing.

  • avatar
    rodster205

    I am an “active thirty-something” (ATS?). I know LOTS of “active thirty-somethings”. They are all very similar to me.

    My 95% of my “active” is commuting, working, and dealing with the kids. The only mountain biking I do (rarely) is on the walking trails through my neighborhood. No SUV needed. Never been kayaking(sp?) even though there is a business that provides the boats and a ride up river less than a mile from my house. Plan on it one day, will probably be a year or two if ever. Again, no SUV needed.

    We own a 98 4 door sedan (4cyl, Japanese brand made in USA) and an 2006 SUV (US brand made in USA), just like most of the ATS’s we know, and like most in our neighborhood. My latest purchase was $25K ($30k sticker), which is still the most I’ve ever paid for a new vehicle. I guarantee I will not pay over $30K for any vehicle before I’m 50 unless I win the lottery. Some of my ATS friends have a van or double-cab truck instead of an SUV.

    The auto nuts I know usually have a 3rd older sporty vehicle for weekend hoonery. The outdoor nuts have a boat or ATV, depending on where they go at 5am, the water or the woods. None have a true “lifestyle” vehicle unless it is a 3rd, older vehicle.

    Very few of the ATSs I know change vehicles often, and none rush out to buy the latest thing. Most of them have at least one vehicle made in the 90’s. When the time comes to buy they do a little research, ask friends & co-workers, and go actually look at and drive several vehicles.

    I’m willing to bet that I’m at least one-third of the market, which would probably the largest single segment except maybe the over 60 crowd right now. It seems like the market is so segmented that most of the ads are targeted at a 5% (or less) demographic, which seems like such a waste of time/money.

    Honda seems to nail it because their ads are just like their cars: they offend no one and they wow no one. They present the product and talk about value and quality. And everyone who sees the ad understands. And they all stay on message.

    Except for the occasional good one, most of the 2.5 ads are touchy-feely garbage. Normal people see through that and after a while the cumulative effect appears to be that there is little for them to sell besides an aspiration.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    The Edge advertisements are crap. Show me what is special about this vehicle and why I should buy it. Show me the Vista roof, show me the interior quality and Ipod hookup.

    The only ones worse are the bobble-heads from the Jeep compass ads, man those are awful.

    As far as showing a product and letting it sell itself is concerned not many will do it because they are not confident in their designs to do so. The most recent instance I have seen where the product stands on its own is Apples iPhone that was just announced. There is nothing spectacularly ground breaking with what it does it’s how it does it. The reason it will sell for a premium and sell well because it does everything its competion does in a phone it just does it better, it’s the design stupid. Just like in real estate its location, location, location. In products it should be design, design, design

    The car business should not really be all that hard. Take a look at what is being sold and from a design perspective fix it. Make an exterior shape that is not just comparable to the competition but leapfrogs it. And spend as much or more time designing the inside of the car as the outside. How people interact with the systems on their vehicles and the quality of those parts (interface and ergonomics) is very important. These are the things that you use most in your vehicle yet these tend to be the parts bin cast-offs and relegated to the least skilled designers. Take a page from good design such as Apple Inc. and use it to create better interfaces (the Jaguar concept and Volvo xc60 used a bit of this). Why not offer a HUD in a mainstream sedan as an option? What not use a touchscreen or touchplate instead of idrive, MMI or COMMAND?

    While I like a pretty exterior on my cars and some recently have come from concept to production fairly well intact (Solstice) the concept interiors never make it even remotely and that is just a shame.

  • avatar
    Vega

    “How insanely great is that?”

    Nice Steve Jobs reference, Robert. And also right on target. Because old geezers driving Scions also tend to own Ipods nowadays…

  • avatar

    Cavendel: The core idea: great movies got made DESPITE the Hollywood system, not BECAUSE of it. The C6 'Vette is the automotive analog. rodster205: I recently watched a Camry ad that simply ticked off the boxes: looks, driving, reliability. Done. Unfortunately, most ad and auto execs are not brave enough to be timid. Steve_S: Spot on. The Edge should be advertising the Vista roof. That's it's Unique Selling Point. Fabulous.

  • avatar
    Brendan McAleer

    Remember the old VeeDub Corrado ad, where they drop the Beetle out of the plane?

    There should be more ads dropping things out of planes, IMHO.

  • avatar
    chainyanker

    Has anyone noticed that Dodge uses a V8 burble in their TV ads for cars with no V8 option? I noticed it first in an early Caliber ad and more recently for the Nitro. Is that artistic license or bait-and-switch?

  • avatar
    rodster205

    Brendan:

    Did you see the new Lexus IS (I think) ad where they drop one and the one doing the 1/4 on the ground barely makes it by? You would like that one, although I think it was dropped from a tether held by a chopper.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Is there more than one “Lexus accelerating down a runway” ad? The one I’ve noticed didn’t seem to involve dropping anything from an airplane but I wasn’t paying particularly close attention. What I learned from the ad I saw was that Lexus now offers an 8-speed automatic transmission.

    That message – a new standard – came through loud and clear.

  • avatar
    MW

    Pch: “Market research also assumes that customers actually know what they want well enough and deeply enough that they can articulate and express it to the researcher”

    Absolutely. Most people don’t think deeply and creatively about what they want from the products they buy. A focus group will usually tell you that consumers want something incrementally better than what they’re familiar with now. If someone asked you what you wanted from your next washing machine, you’d probably say you wanted it to get the clothes a little cleaner, a little faster, using a little less energy, etc. than the one you own now. If the researcher prompted you enough, you’d probably express preferences about how to pour the detergent in. But if someone introduced a brilliant new design, you’d want that more than any of the features you told the researcher you wanted.

    People in focus groups don’t design great products. A focus group for small cars wouldn’t have told you they wanted the original Beetle, but millions of folks realized they wanted one (despite its flaws) once they saw them.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Man..I sure hope that woman doesn’t read TTAC — ;-)

    Or the one in the MKX commerical. Its a doosie!

    You see a MKX drive down to a beach, a good looking female in a bikini top comes out. While the 1st person narration talks about her life and what she wants to aspire to, she pulls out a surfboard from the cargo hole. Then she says she’s already reached that, and three kids come out of the MKX. (awww)

    Aside from the physical challenges of carrying 5 people and a surfboard within a MKX, that ad tells me that MILFs want this Lincoln Crossover.

    That and Lincoln has no frickin’ clue what a Lincoln is supposed to be. Current and future products have a Chrysler 300/Navigator thing going and its pretty far off the Mark. (pun intended)

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Oh, and if they’d just reskin the Town Car and put more interior/performance features in it, they’d be fighting off so many Gangsta-wannabes, upper-middle class families and Matlock fans at the dealerships.

    You don’t need to whip up Ad jargon to bullshit people into thinking Lincoln is a great brand when you already have your strongest “brand” statement a luxury car can have. Who hasn’t had a Town Car Limo at one of the best times of your life? (wedding, prom, etc)

    And why not make an ad saying that you can have that same happiness every day, in your garage to enjoy to and from work?

    The damn car sells itself if/when it gets a new lease on life.

  • avatar
    ash78

    I don’t give a crap about car marketing, and I think that most people on site don’t, either. I don’t care what Saab “stands for” or whether “Subarus are for lesbians”. I just know that Saab offered the 9-2x for less than the WRX and with 0% financing and a more appealing design. I don’t have the kind of brand loyalty in this age of platform sharing and badgeneering that would lean me one way or another (barring an outstanding local dealership or mechanic).

    I still wish I could bring myself to buy a 3-series (even a used one) without having to deal with the attitudes from everyone else–I’m 28. If I could debadge them without the ensuing bondo and paintwork, I would ;)

  • avatar
    HawaiiJim

    Robert Farago:

    Regarding old folks in Scions:

    Not too long ago I saw what I think was a bright red Aveo wagon with a license plate bearing a “World War II veteran” license plate. Wow, World War II. And I bet he loved the car as much as a teenager would.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    I stared at that Edge ad for 10 minutes trying to figure out the joke… then the point.

    I actually think it belongs in a museum.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Product design seems to be one of the constants that drives consumer demand for cars, clothing, shoes, electronics, etc. Look at all the hoopla the Apple iPhone has generated in the last 48 hrs.

    My takeaway from this is that if/when the Big 2.5 (or any car mfg) create compelling design, it sells. Chrysler 300, ‘Vette, Mustang, Boxster, Civic, G35, Beetle, etc. Doesn’t matter if it’s got a Hemi or 4 cyl. If it looks good, it sells.

    Yet you have to wonder what is it about design that makes it so elusive to create a compelling product. How much harder was it for J Mays to recreate the Beetle than for Chrysler to make the Sebring? Or was it that VW had courage and faith in it’s designers and Chrysler does not?

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    guyincognito,

    I agree Lincoln has lost its focus, so to speak, but the new MKR, if done properly, will likely be a very competent luxury sedan with a very tractable motor. ‘Turbo V6’ doesn’t imply “peaky” by any means….actually quite the contrary.

    Witness the new generation of turbocharged engines from BMW, Audi, and Mazda, among others, that put out class leading low end torque thanks to small, quick spooling turbos. I suspect the MKR motor will deliver peak torque below 3000 rpm….which would be perfect for the typical laid back Lincoln driver.

    RF,

    Nice article, and an interesting comment about reissuing a marque’s last best car…if Lincoln would release an updated Mark VIII, with BMW 6 series performance and refinement, they’d certainly get my attention.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Or was it that VW had courage and faith in it’s designers and Chrysler does not?

    jkross22: VW had the beancounters doing something else when they reskinned a Golf to make it a Beetle. Chrysler was not so lucky when their Airflite concept car became the blueprint for the Sebring.

    It usually has little to do with the designer’s talent. Sad, really.

  • avatar
    qfrog

    Frequently I find auto marketing caters to the lowest common denominator. I’d like for them to just be honest… but honesty isn’t really a great way to pry bar your way into some fool’s wallet. Why? Because the general public doesn’t really know what they want and if they do I bet they aren’t willing to make the sacrifices necessary to enjoy it. I believe that everybody has an item of consumable fixation which they either spend a disproportionate percentage of their income on or would like to. For me that item is automobiles. For joe schmuck it might be a nice TV or women’s lingere. No other purchase carries as much importance to that person as the item of fixation, the rest is just stuff purchased to serve a purpose in all likelyhood just because it was available at an affordable price point. The level of scrutiny applied to stuff purchases is not high at all, and some stuff may be purchased just to avoid or minimize conflict. Given this situation… it is only logical that you can pass off crappy cars as something worthwhile to own. They sell plenty of crappy electronics… I can buy headphones or I can buy Grados or Sennheisers… I can buy a power cable or I can make my own with special cabling and furukawa connectors.

    Know that saying, “if you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all” Take that but change it to “if you have nothing truthfully nice to say, then say nothing at all” What would that leave the marketers to say about a lot of vehicles… “lightest 16″ wheels in it’s class” “largest diameter cup holders in any car” “genuine mouse fur headliner”. Catch my drift?

  • avatar
    Luther

    Its the cars dammit and the inconsistent message reeks of desperation.

    Or Hucksterism.

    If one trys to target a demographic doesnt one run the risk of turning more people off than on? I would think so. Its like seeing a Want Ad that states: “Natural Blonde Asian Female wanted. Able to lift 135 lbs. All others need not apply.” I think it is self-limiting and self-defeating. If I sold Spam I would say “This is Spam. It tastes great. Try the stuff dammit.” instead of “Spam is for 20-something Metro Sexuals Hipsters with limited marketable skills.”

    The broadcast media trys to herd people into groups like “Baby Boomer” GenX/Y/Z/ZZ/ZZZ and then trys to tell them who they are, what to think, what to be, how to act, what they want. Madison Avenue then trys to key off of this groupthink to sell products. I dont think this is working too well for them anymore since people are turning away from the broadcast media.

  • avatar
    blautens

    Is anyone here really swayed by automotive marketing, good or bad? I generally take note of the ads if they are particularly noteworthy (again, for being good or bad) but I’ve NEVER been motivated by them. 2 years ago DVRs wiped out most TV commercials for me, period. But I digress…

    So I wonder, is anyone motivated by them? My wife isn’t. My parents aren’t. I just surveyed my virtual cubicle farm coworkers and they aren’t.

    They all check with various flavors of automotive journalism resources (and then usually me, for whatever reason) before making a buying decision.

    Maybe auto manufacturers should leave just a few of the ad dollars to the sales side/dealer network to advertise the various flavors of sales (because who wouldn’t want to donate to the yearly Toyotathon – I hate the idea of kids in wheelchairs!), with their awful but inevitable presence, and take the rest of the money and invest in designing a good product that doesn’t suck glaringly or induce horror at first glance.

    God, I experienced the new Sebring and Nitro in person the other day. I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again – as a cop, I always needed to grab the bad guy and force an answer to my “why did you do it?” question. I want so badly to find the engineers/decision makers responsible for this DCX crap and do the same…

    Screw the ads….build something decent and enjoy the best marketing around – word of mouth.

  • avatar
    Cavendel

    Robert Farago said

    The core idea: great movies got made DESPITE the Hollywood system, not BECAUSE of it.

    The C6 ‘Vette is the automotive analog.

    That may be, though it is probably a conversation for another thread. I just took umbrage from the idea that there were no good movies in the last 10 years.

  • avatar
    audimination

    rodster205:
    “Honda seems to nail it because their ads are just like their cars: they offend no one and they wow no one. They present the product and talk about value and quality. And everyone who sees the ad understands. And they all stay on message.”

    Well, that only works for honda and toyota because they pull the bland thing off to perfection. It’s actually a very hard thing to do, and they do it remarkably well.

    It’s funny, because when I still lived in France, I met with a Renault exec one evening, and we go to talking about the brand. They had just come out with the Renault Twingo, a very small 2-door (barely) 4-seater, which, in my opinion was horribly ugly. Looked like a frog to me from the front. However, for some reason, it sold SPECTACULARLY well! And I couldn’t understand why. When I asked him to explain the logic to me, he gave me one of the best nuggets into the automotive world I’ve ever heard:

    “When you create a car, you’re not shotting for 100% of the people loving it. In fact, putting in aggressive, shocking design can be a boon to success. If I put out a car that’s so aggressive and offensive that 80% of the people who see it HATE it but 20% of the people who see it LOVE it, what does it mean? It means that, if those 20% who love it act on their feelings and actually buy it, then I’ve got a 20% market share in a specific segment, which is more than enough for me to justify the investment in that car to the shareholders. However, if I make a bland car that nobody hates or loves, then nobody will notice it. So what happens? Well, if there are 5 other cars in the same segment as my bland car, and they are all aggressive (i.e. 80% hate, 20% love), then each of those cars will get the 20% market share of people who love the car, and I will be left with nothing, because my car was too bland. The buyers have a choice between a bland car they don’t care about, a car they love, and 4 cars they hate. Obviously, they will choose the car they love. Whether everyone loves the same car is irrelevant. You just have to get enough people to love your car, and don’t worry about offending the rest.”

    Best insight into the automotive industry I’ve ever gotten…Maybe the 2.5 could use it to their benefit i.e. make each of their numerous brands be aggressive in it’s own way, appealing to a certain segment of people, and who cares if everyone else hates it!

  • avatar
    GlennS

    To me, the Edge ads say little, but my guess is they’re trying to imbed the image/name into certains folks memories…

    I don’t give a crap about car marketing, and I think that most people on site don’t, either.

    Agreed. My SWAG (scientific wild assed guess) is that most of us who are “into” cars could care less about car ads, save for, in some cases, their entertainment value.

    In July I went to a Honda dealership thinking I’d buy an Accord, and ended up with a newly-redesigned Civic. But I knew I was going to buy a Honda. That was predestined.

    Thing is, I’d never seen an ad for the (new 8th Gen.) Civic prior to the visit, and had no idea it was all new in ’06. Honda never even had to run an ad (in any media) to get me to buy one of their cars–they already had me–based on proir experience with the brand (thus the predestiny in my case). BTW: The redesigned Civic sold itself: It just seemed newer (in design) than the soon-to-be-updated Accord did back then (July 2006).

    That Brand X may not need to run an ad to get some of us to buy one of their cars my be true for others here–ya just kinda know where you’re going to end up when it’s new car time: At one, maybe two, different brands dealerships. (Be honest with yourself.) No car ad is going to sway you one way or another, truthfully.

    However…there are other types of consumers out there…

    The only ones worse are the bobble-heads from the Jeep compass ads, man those are awful.

    While in a doctors office as a patient, a chat with young-ish female assistant revealed that she had recently bought a new vehcile. She told me she was going to buy a new __ [some American vehicle or another], but THEN yes, wait for it…she saw the bobble-head TV ad for the Jeep Compass, and ended up buying one. She said she thought the ad was cute.

    She is a good example of one of those “certain folks memories” that (some) ads are programmed to speak to: Burn some phycolocical alarm clock into a consumers mind and hope the alarm goes off when the proper time comes.

    Advertising works on many levels. Just one example:
    Cute Compass ad…need car…go look…ka-ching…sale made.
    (The other car she mentioned buying? Well, maybe next time.)

    It is impossible to know what goes on in other peoples minds.
    But marketers try to find some common alarm clock triggers.
    That’s my laymans take on marketing in general, anyway.

    Regards,
    Glenn in CT

  • avatar
    JJ

    I mentioned this once before, but it remains ‘cool’:

    The Lincoln “Foot & Mouth-disease”

    (Dutch for MKZ)

  • avatar
    audimination

    Of course, everything I just said in my last post is completely irrelevant if the quality of the machine is not up to par, especially the interior, which, to many people, is the first thing that determines the quality of a car for them. And, as we all know, this is somewhere that the 2.5 have been sorely lacking.

    Also, to those who say that the europeans and japs are successful here becaues each brand represents something: let’s not forget, in Germany, Mercedes serves everyone from the taxi-driver (base-level C) to the german version of the soccer mom (B class) to the ultimate luxury car owner (S class)… and Toyota is the same in Japan, where they have basic cars and ultimate luxury all under the toyota brand. Not trying to make a point, but it might be an interesting point to discuss/consider…

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    I have mentioned this before, but I worked with a guy who bought a first-gen RAV4 because of the commercial where the car is trying to park, pulls into a spot, and a little dog with a cone around its neck barks at the Toyota which then precedes to back up and go elsewhere.

    I remember blinking my eyes in shock when he told me that specifically, that’s why he bought the car.

  • avatar

    "Reach higher" sounds good to me, but how about making a car worthy of aspiration? 263 hp Available awd THX stereo Leather and wood in abundance Based on a very good-handling chassis Real sale price around $32K. That question, easily proven to be ill-used, is wrong.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Zanary,

    Not defending Robert here (He’s tough) but I am defending his point — where do you go after that? I mean, aspiring to that particular Lincoln? Really?

    It’s a good deal, but it is still a dolled up Mazda6 with all the compromises that implies.

    Look, I’ve driven the Speed6, which has even more power than the top-of-the-line MKZ and AWD. Great car, fun, but hardly aspirational.

    A Caddy CTS-V, BMW 545i, Infinit M45?

    I’m aspiring.

  • avatar
    skor

    You mean to tell me that Lincolns aren’t driven by MILFs?

    Another one of my fantasies shot to hell.

  • avatar
    seldomawake

    skor:

    That was exactly my first thought when I read the piece!

  • avatar
    nino

    In terms of branding creating product, here’s the deal: if you have a strong brand, all design questions are easily answered– often based on the “tacit knowledge” of which Mr. Karesh speaks– without resorting to reams of [often misleading] real world data.

    Jeep designer: what kind of seat should the Wrangler have? Answer: a seat that keeps occupants in place during extreme off-roading that’s easy to clean yet comfortable enough for long trips to and from the trail, and no fancy electronics that can’t take major abuse.

    SMART designer: what kind of seat should the FourTwo have? Answer: a way cool-looking chair that’s perched high enough to see around traffic and find parking spaces that’s comfortable enough for traffic jams.

    While this approach makes a ton of sense, we all know that in the name of increased market share, this isn’t how it works right now.

    Jeep sells their rugged vehicles with luxury appointments including leather interiors and high end audio systems in order to appeal to the “outdoors type that also has an active social life in the city” or whatever type.

    Smart has toyed with high powered turbo versions of their vehicles in order to market them as cheap sports cars.

    While we’re on the subject, marketing is the major force behind the popularity of the SUV and to a certain extent, the demise of the minivan. Marketing can also be credited (blamed?) for the rush to hybrids, even though it has been shown that Diesel alternatives are superior, and for the the cache that certain brands carry (BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Toyota)

  • avatar
    Claude Dickson

    JL:

    Substitute the 335i for the 545i and I’m pretty much there with you in the aspiration category. In fact, you can stop with the Bimmer and delete the Infinity, IMHO.

  • avatar
    ash78

    This brings up another interesting question/comment:
    How much is a vehicle’s marketing effect atually driven by the people around you who have the cars in reality?

    It’s suicide for a manufacturer to try to screen customers by any method except high pricing (except Ferrari’s occasional “you need to have owned one before” stupulations)…but they can pander to whomever they want in the ads.

    I could give a million examples, some of which would get me banninated, but my point is that millions and millions of dollars are spent on advertising, when it really comes down to your friends, neighbors, and that guy in the Kia next to you in traffic, picking his nose and examining it. I hate advertising as a field because it pales in comparison with reality’s effectiveness, all while trying to serve as a substitute for thought.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Claude,

    You’ve never driven an M45 I see.

    To me, the 3-Series is too ugly to own.

  • avatar
    nino

    Nice article, and an interesting comment about reissuing a marque’s last best car…if Lincoln would release an updated Mark VIII, with BMW 6 series performance and refinement, they’d certainly get my attention.

    I’d add that this is exactly the direction Lincoln should go in along with Sangeev’s reskined Town Car idea.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Until 1923 pretty much all car ads featured content. Then Ned Jordan created the first image ad campaign with his iconic “Somewhere west of Laramie” ad. It saved his languishing Jordan from near death, and created the modern car image campaign.

    I would guess that the guy dwford sold the new MKZ to, and who traded in an ’06 Mustanf GT, was probably not a “content shopper” like so many of us here are. And who’s to say that the woman driving the MKZ Robert saw wasn’t turned on by the ads? Isn’t just about everyone “cool” now, including grandmothers?

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Humans seem to respond to both emotional and practical sales messages, some of us more to one than the other. Ned Jordan’s car had no distinguishing content aspects to crow about, so he invented the emotional pitch, and it worked.

    I think it’s interesting to see that the Japanese, especially Honda and Toyota, have used the rational/content pitch much more than Detroit. That may say as much about their philosophy of car making and their products as the marketing approach.

  • avatar
    nino

    I know for a fact that VW’s “Unpimp My Ride” ads sold more than few GTIs to people I know.

  • avatar
    bestertester

    why is relying on market research for developing cars a bad thing? because consumers only know what they want right now; they do not know what they will want in a few months or a few years.

    you need imagination, you need a special talent to know what people will want in three year’s time. you also need excellent technical expertise to know what can be developed in three year’s time. imagination + technical expertise: that is a rare commodity.

    why do mediocre car companies rely on market research? because they have a corporate culture of covering one’s ass. in a mediocre organization, people will get away with saying “well, at least the car cliniqued well”. and you can always use the various marketing channels (rebates, sales to rental) to boost sales when you have company politics on your side.

  • avatar
    GlennS

    Can’t resist an additional comment…

    He countered that there’s nothing particularly wrong with Detroit’s brands or machinery. They just don’t know how to sell the metal.

    In keeping with the thrust of the article, I’d have to agree.
    To their credit, Ford has a print ad proclaiming how the Fusion won some J.D. Power award or another (initial quaility)? But, generally speaking, ads for Detroit metal seem to be high on gloss, and low on details.

    Lexus will show you how the headlights swivel to help you see the deer out on the road in dark of night, for example.

    Domestic ads are usually quite “fluffy” by contrast. Say the TV is on as background noise, and a domestic auto ad airs: I’m usually left muttering something like “What was that about?”

    Yea, I know it’s an ad for American car X, but besides showing it doing something the fine print at the bottom of the screen says that I should not attempt (“professional driver on a closed course”), what practical fact(s) did I learn about the product in question?

    Nothing useful, that is certain. That’s the point of this article, I think: “Tell me exactly why I should consider an MKZ? Psych majors maybe able to explain the ads’ raison detra, but I can not.

    Tell me how the Fusion AWD has the same long-term quality rating as, say a Subaru AWD and give me a reason to detour to a Ford dearlship when my wife wants to replace her Subaru.

    Oh yea, the Fusion might end up like the Taurus…withered on the vine, and discontinued before it can obtain such lofty goals.

    Look at the Civic: It’s been around since 1973 as a model name. Honda continually evolves the car, and an ’06 Civic is a different car than the ’73 was…or is it? Still fun to drive, not god-awfully expensive, reliable (okay the early ones rusted faster than an iron pipe in a pile of rotting leaves, but see “constantly evolving” above, regarding contunual improvement). Will the MKZ nameplate be around 34 years from now? Will we ever learn of it’s long-term reliability?

    It’s suicide for a manufacturer to try to screen customers by any method except high pricing… …but they can pander to whomever they want in the ads.

    Maybe so. Lord knows Detroit’s finest have the money to burn on ads that speak to no particualr customer at all…

    strong products from strong brands find their own market

    Witness the reasons Hondas sell so well.

    This article has a valid thesis. Good job, Robert.

    Regards,
    Glenn in CT

  • avatar
    mikey

    Ok people how many folks have heard This is my country this is my truck?Lots of raised hands.How many folks can hum the tune?Hmm lots of people.Love em or hate em what product is John Melloncamp selling?
    I’ll betcha a lot folks know the answers to the above questions.
    Does advertising work?

  • avatar
    ash78

    mikey
    Agreed. I think the Chevy Silverado has the most effective image campaign out there right now.

    I still think BMW has the ideal chance of capturing the “emotional side” of cars, but their best current effort is the YouTube video of the kid opening the present at Christmas. Kind of weak, IMO, when you troll the web for your next image campaign.

  • avatar
    Luther

    I hate advertising as a field because it pales in comparison with reality’s effectiveness, all while trying to serve as a substitute for thought.

    Well said. Is it not the goal of advertizing to make you stop thinking? Advertizing and Propaganda are the same and are particularly effective on emotion-driven people.

  • avatar
    GlennS

    This is my country this is my truck?…Does advertising work?

    Yes, absolutely. Focused advertising works.

    They’ll sell lots of trucks–to a particular demographic (which I shall refrain from describing, lest I come off as a snobbish, Starbucks-sipping, #&!%, un-patriotic, Northeastener).

    The editorial speaks to a particular ad, which is aimed at ____ (just who, exactly)? That is less than crystal clear…

  • avatar
    mikey

    Advertising is crystal clear.If I have a product and I want to sell it,I gotta advertise it, if the ad doesn,t work I don,t sell my product,then I,m outa buisness.
    Sounds clear to me.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    263 hp Available awd THX stereo Leather and wood in abundance Based on a very good-handling chassis Real sale price around $32K. That question, easily proven to be ill-used, is wrong.

    Zanary: very good handling? Its more like:

    1. mediocre handling on a cushy FWD chassis
    2. Road noise and NVH isolation on par with other cars sporting Japanese-based family car chassis.
    3. Slow shifting transmission.
    4. V6 engine that has to rev above 4000rpm to make peak power.

    That isn’t a Lincoln and it never will be.

    I’m not defending RF’s point, I’m with the legacy of hundreds of thousands of elegant, understated (somewhat) executive transport machines with the Lincoln name. Machines with long sweeping lines, rear-wheel drive, decadent interiors, quick witted (yes, really) transmissions, and effortless engines.

    Speaking of, you’d think by how often the word “DNA” is thrown out by marketing and design-types, they’d actually know where their brand came from.

  • avatar
    Seth

    Cars sell mostly by word of mouth and past experiences. Oh that and the price. If the price is good and financing great, a chevy malibu is the greatest thing on the planet. Ofcourse, if your credit history is really bad then there is always mitsu.

    But yeah mostly word of mouth. The only thing ads do is make sure that you wont buy something. Case in point Dodge ads which are a huge turn off to some people. I remember two dodge ads that piss off sports car types and ethnic communities (probably because they wont buy dodge anyway?)

  • avatar
    MW

    To the P&G comparison far up this thread — one thing that occurs to me is that successful companies introduce new brands and discontinue stale ones as their customers age.

    The problem with Lincoln isn’t that people don’t know what one is, the problem is they DO know — and most of the people who want one are already driving their last car.

    Thirty-something professional moms are much more likely to want (for example) a Volvo, which Ford can also sell them. The insanity is that it’s somehow easier for Ford to devote massive resources trying to redefine Lincoln as being Volvo with more chrome and fake wood than to just marketing Volvos to them.

    Same with GM — is it really easier to convince sporty import sedan buyers that they really want a Saturn or a Buick instead when they could have invested in helping Saab build a new generation of terrific Saabs?

  • avatar
    chainyanker

    I don’t see what the “This is my country” ads accomplish. Sure everyone knows what they’re selling but the people who buy the product are already sold. Few potential Toyota or Nissan buyers are going to have a change of heart because of a little flag waiving – it seems desperate. You don’t see other large corporations like Goodyear, GE, etc. resorting to that because it says “We’ve got no better selling points to tout. Just buy it ’cause it’s American.”

  • avatar
    GlennS

    Advertising is crystal clear.If I have a product and I want to sell it,I gotta advertise it…

    Exactly right.
    So, does the ad (described above) for the MKZ help sell it?
    (The ad does not, is what the editorial is saying to me.)

    …if the ad doesn,t work I don,t sell my product,then I,m outa buisness. Sounds clear to me.

    Because what you say (“if it don’t sell…”) is good logic, then you can now see (one reason) why Ford is in danger of going out of business.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    Advertising works, if it didn’t then businesses wouldn’t pay large sums of money for it. It won’t make a crappy car a best seller but take two equal cars one with good advertising that promotes interest and one with bland advertising and guess which one sells more. If you don’t get the word out about a vehicle then no one is going to know about it. Remember that your average car consumer doesn’t really look a bunch of websites to research various cars. They just look at what they see on TV or what their friends/colleagues drive.

    Case in point almost no one knows that my car is an RX8. I usually get “Hey nice car. What is it?” Now think back and when was the last time you saw a TV commercial for an RX8? My guess is sometime in 2004 when it was first introduced. Advertisements create interest and some awareness and as long as they do that they increase sales.

  • avatar
    ktm

    mikey, the article and ensuing comments are not about advertising but marketing. The focus of an advertisment is borne out of the target market.

    Jonny, the 335i sedan is ugly, but the 335i coupe is drop dead sexy. You should go check one out in person. The coupe and sedan do not even look similar.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    KTM — I’ve driven the 335i coupe.

    Fantastic engine. And… no thank you on the rest. I find it significantly uglier than the sedan, which is just blah looking to begin with. From the side, the coupe doesn’t have proportions.

    As far as “Our Country” goes, my friends and I have decided to cover it at an upcoming party. Dressed as the village people.

  • avatar
    kasumi

    MW-
    Good point about Volvo. Robert’s example of a Lincoln driver may have been having her Volvo serviced and got that as a loaner. Maybe Ford should look at Volvo who seems to know exactly what they want to be, makes cars that look similar with a defined brand image. But then, that would require the marketing to use subtle advertising and slowly REbuild a brand, which they don’t got the time to do. Even if Volvo recently (well 7+ years ago) began their renaming scheme, the progression is visible. Not constant starts and stops tinkering with image and car names.

    K.

  • avatar
    Jeffer

    One of the best commercials I have seen in a long time is for the new Toyota Tundra. It has a young man holding a hammer and saying something like ” My Dad built a lot of houses with this, I build houses too…But I use this.” (holds up nail gun, closes tailgate to reveal Toyota logo). I find it very effective as it doesn’t slam the intended competition, but suggests that while the others are good, they are a little behind the times.(like good old Dad sometimes.)

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    I don’t see what the “This is my country” ads accomplish. Sure everyone knows what they’re selling but the people who buy the product are already sold. Few potential Toyota or Nissan buyers are going to have a change of heart because of a little flag waiving – it seems desperate. You don’t see other large corporations like Goodyear, GE, etc. resorting to that because it says “We’ve got no better selling points to tout. Just buy it ’cause it’s American.”

    Excellent point. The first thing that comes across in this ad is outright desperation. Toyota is making much of the fact that it’s new truck is built right in the heart of Texas and is therefor American. This ad tries to outdo them by suggesting that if you are a real American you will buy a – what was it again – truck!!! Personally, and I mean no offense to our good southerly neighbours, this kind of flag waving is sickening regardless of where it comes from. As for Toyota, they should just focus on building a better truck than everyone else instead of trying to convince us of their Americanism (is that a word?). Perhaps it plays well in Texas but I am inclined to believe that engineering excellance, value for money and re-sale value means as much to Texans as it does to the rest of us.

    My $0.02

  • avatar

    4. V6 engine that has to rev above 4000rpm to make peak power.

    Welcome to the world of OHC engines. Enjoy your stay!

  • avatar
    MisterCS

    The Honda “parts in motion” ads, wherein the components of a Honda car roll and bang into one another, leading eventually to a picture of the car itself, is probably the most effective car ad that has ever been devised.

    Huh? That ad tells you absolutely nothing about the car (can you tell the parts are made to high tolerance as they roll and swing by?)

    The Edge advertisements are crap. Show me what is special about this vehicle and why I should buy it. Show me the Vista roof, show me the interior quality and Ipod hookup

    Good point, that kind of informative advertising is missing from everything sold today.

  • avatar
    NeonCat93

    As a natural born Southerner the “This is my country” ads don’t make me feel all warm and cuddly over Chevy trucks, but they do make me feel ill about John Mellencamp.

    Paul Niedermeyer:

    I didn’t know the Jordan ad was considered iconic, I just thought it was a really cool ad when I saw it in the basement of the Case Museum in Cleveland. I’d never even heard of Jordan autos and I wanted one.

    Sajeev Mehta:

    Unfortunately my strongest memory of the Town Car is driving at night up a hill on the interstate with the pedal to the floor, watching the speedometer sink down, down to 35. Granted, it was a twenty-year old car then, but still I was damn glad I ran out of hill before I ran out of car.

    I think the bobble head ads are appropriate to the target market for the vehicle. It is a superficial image, yes, but a very cool one. I guess I am in the demographic for the Edge, but I sure don’t want one, and anybody with flying cars (as opposed to falling, although I don’t like to see cars destroyed for nothing à la Lexus’s latest) turns me off. Yes, it is 2007. No, we still don’t have flying cars, and all the CGI in the world won’t convince me of the airiness of a Malibu.

    Now, if someone re-edited one of the flying car commercials so it burst into flames like the Hindenburg, complete with sensational “Oh the humanity!” soundtrack, it wouldn’t make me buy the car but it would be damn funny.

  • avatar
    jd arms

    While I’m sure the Lincoln MKZ is a nice car, and it fits into a class of cars I am considering for my next purchase, I’m confident I won’t be buying it.

    I am a late 30s professional with enough disposable income to replace an entry level luxury sedan every 4-5 years, but Lincoln isn’t a part of “what I’m trying to be.” C’mon, everyone knows Lincolns are for old guys and pimps…..and good Americans. Moreover, Lincoln is owned by Ford.

    First of all, when I was younger, I went the American car route, twice. Both times, almost immediately after the warranty expired, the car began to fall apart. After the second burning, I switched to Japanese, and I haven’t looked back….well, occasionally I give a glance to a Dodge muscle car or a CTS. My wife always wanted German cars, and now, after numerous electrical issues, we have sworn off them too…for now.

    This limits us in our choices, but we have learned that no matter how great the commercial or ad campaign may be, if the car lacks reliability, then we probably shouldn’t buy it.
    For example, I think the recent Cadillac commercial where the young guys pull up to a diner at the same time the old guys are pulling up (it is morning) and the old guys welcome them to the club….cool commercial – I might even test drive the car – but will I be buying it? Highly unlikely.

    Oh, and the whole “Be a good American” angle? Please. Questioning my patriotism is so 2004. Even though I don’t drive a Prius, sip lattes, or hug trees, I’m apparently one of the “bad, terrist supportin’ Muricans.” Buying an American car isn’t going to change that.

  • avatar
    Turbo G

    Is the “this is our country campaign” really effective or just so darn repetitive that it can’t be escaped? I swear it is on every commercial break of every sporting event. John Mellancamp probably drives an Enzo or something like it anyway….

  • avatar
    Jay Shoemaker

    The holy grail for business people is predictability. They want to know that if they build a certain product and offer it at a certain price, it will achieve a certain level of sales and then the company will make a certain amount of money and the company’s stock will rise an appropriate amount so that the executive’s stock options will be in the black.

    This is the reason for believing in things like marketing research and advertising, because if offers the illusion of predictability and dopes its users into thinking that unique design is no longer necessary.

  • avatar
    Joe Chiaramonte

    Here’s another Honda ad that is quite astounding:

    http://www.honda.co.uk/civic/

    click “Watch” – this could easily be broken up into a series of 30-second spots. And the car is interesting, too.

    …and we get Mellencamp/Silverado or Zeppelin/Cadillac or this befuddling MKZ stuff. Great.

  • avatar

    re the Mellencamp ad: if the big 2.5 were concerned about being good US citizens themselves, they’d build world-beating cars.

    Competition is important to quality. We’d be driving total crap if it weren’t for the overseas competition. Therefore, you can’t argue that it’s patriotic to buy American unless the American car is as good as the foreign car.

  • avatar
    willbodine

    The first time I heard the Lincoln ad voiceover “Reach Higher” I thought it was saying “Retire.”

  • avatar
    roadracer

    There’s so much crap coming out of Hollywood that I haven’t seen any of the car ads you all are talking about. Now that F1, baseball, and the Runoffs are over there’s just not much reason to watch TV.

  • avatar
    210delray

    audimination: “When you create a car, you’re not shooting for 100% of the people loving it. In fact, putting in aggressive, shocking design can be a boon to success…” (quoting Renault exec). As I recall, Maximum Bob Lutz, when he was working for Chrysler, said the same thing back in the early 90s about “big-rig look” Dodge Ram redesign. Of course, Chrysler didn’t have much to lose by going for broke — the old Ram was barely a blip on the radar screen in comparison to Ford and Chevy truck sales.

    ash78: I too question the effectiveness of advertising. All those millions of dollars spent — does it really make a difference? In that vein, Pete DeLorenzo always gives me a laugh from his blog — where his hyperinflated ego is all too apparent — and I think to myself, but “he’s only an ex-advertising guy!”

    Robert: great article, and you know, that Lincoln ad really caught my attention too, not for the car (what’s an MKZ anyway?), but precisely because of the “empty road in a moody landscape.” The photo could have been shot not far from me (central VA) — it’s green and hilly…and beckoning.

    Regarding the Edge ad with the Brookyn Bridge: it was photoshopped in more ways than one. The bridge crosses the East River (which is not really a river), not the Hudson, but the impression is that Manhattan is being viewed from the Jersey shore. Yet the promenade in the foreground looks like the one in lower Manhattan on the Hudson side.

    And is it just me, or does the Edge remind anyone of the unlamented AMC Eagle wagon from the front 3/4 view?

  • avatar
    ejacobs

    I hate advertising as a field because it pales in comparison with reality’s effectiveness, all while trying to serve as a substitute for thought.

    Well said. Is it not the goal of advertizing to make you stop thinking? Advertizing and Propaganda are the same and are particularly effective on emotion-driven people.

    Yes, yes, yes…

    Even my ultra-conservative Suburban-driving father can’t stand the Mellencamp commercials. But it’s that drum beat of the GMC Sierra commercials that digs into my brain and refuses to leave. Why does GMC exist, anyway? Who the hell is loyal to GMC? Doesn’t that brand exist solely because of marketing? I’ve heard that it may be because certain people will always refuse to buy anything with a Ford, Dodge, or Chevy name. If those people exist, that’s just hilarious.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Welcome to the world of OHC engines. Enjoy your stay!

    Ok the 4000rpm cutoff was extreme, even modern pushrod V8s spin like that. I’ll change it to having a V8 with ample low end torque. OHCs can still give grunt, esp V8s in luxury cars…

    Still, the MKZ’s Mazda blueprint makes a horrible Lincoln.

    Nothing can change that.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    The jeep commercials with the tiny jeeps that look like bugs were “cute” but after the first one, the fun wore off.

    The Silverado (America’s Truck) is fine if you are one of the dwindling few that still buy them. The testosterone latent flag waving gets me right here (as I point at my buttocks). I personally think it is an act of desperation on GM’s behalf. Besides, isn’t Chevrolet a French name ?

    Maybe Toyota should market the new Texas built Tundra with a big Texas style ten gallon hat. Wow… Goosebumps.

  • avatar
    nino

    Case in point almost no one knows that my car is an RX8. I usually get “Hey nice car. What is it?” Now think back and when was the last time you saw a TV commercial for an RX8? My guess is sometime in 2004 when it was first introduced. Advertisements create interest and some awareness and as long as they do that they increase sales.

    Mazda advertising is either non-existent or just plain SUCKS.

    Does anybody remember the “engine in other cars goes ‘boing’ while a Mazda goes ‘hmmm\'” or the “More you look, the more you like” ads with the sing songy music?

    “Zoom zoom” sounds a lot like those “Boing. boing while a Mazda goes hmmmm”.

    They did run a TV ad for a month for the RX7 when it becames the winningest car in SCCA competition at the time. It showed a series of RX7 kicking the crap out of the competition at races complete with shrieking engine noises and a simple voice over stating the accomplishment. It finished with the “More you look, the more you like” tag line, but then added, “But you better look FAST”.

  • avatar
    rtz

    I signed up for some “more info” on the Ford Edge on Ford’s website a few months ago expecting to get a brochure or something. I got some sort of hip/trendy/artsy “newspaper”. Full color, full page pictures with little artsy phrases. Zero vehicle info. I thought “what in the world; how is this going to incline anyone to buy this vehicle because of this?” I would love to know the psychology behind the reason/idea they created and sent that out and who it was supposed to appeal too. What was the theory behind it? It seems like they sent something else after it that was just as useless/ridiculous, but not nearly as memorial as that newspaper was. I should have kept that newspaper instead of putting it in the recycle bin. It was something else. Mind boggling every time I looked at it trying to figure it out. The amount of effort that went into creating it versus what it was. It’s like I was sitting there holding it, dumbfounded; thinking “what the hell do I do with it?”.

  • avatar
    GlennS

    According to Forbes.com:

    At American auto companies, finance guys and marketers rise to the top. Not at Honda.

    “Engineers Rule”

    See: http://www.forbes.com/free_forbes/2006/0904/112.html

  • avatar
    BostonTeaParty

    cheezeweggie:
    toyota is, if you’d seen the tundra stand at the detroit show. they’re really going for the american patriot thing…the music, the settings, the all american images in the background..just like a certain company and similar product that got slaughtered on this site for that same reason.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Oh yes Toyota knows how to market.Talk about demograpic groupsToyota talks nice to the green folks.
    But how about that greener than thou Tundra Crew Max 5.7 liter 382 hp and 16 MPG pick up yee haw!

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    I recently requested product info on the GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave. I received the brochure on the Acadia, as well as an email from the local dealer trying to sell me a Yukon Denali. Apparenelty they are different.

    In the same package, I got a form letter from Buick telling me the brochure on the Enclave isn’t ready, but they’ll send me one when it is. I can understand that, since Buick delayed introduction of the Enclave 6 months, presumably because they are having so much success with the Rendezvous, Rainier and Terrraza. Yeah.

    But the funny thing about the Buick letter is that they addressed it to “Sam Sample.” Apparently, it was too much effort for Buick to put my name in a form letter the way GMC did, in the very same package.

    If they put so much care into their marketing, how much care will they put in getting the steering response just right?

  • avatar
    MgoBLUE

    GlennS: Thanks for the Forbes article on Honda (above)!

    How can you NOT root for a company like that?!

    I own two of their products and have helped “sell” another five to friends and family in the last year or so.

    The only thing I would change on my TL is the FWD. But as much as I want RWD, I’m not sure I would leave Honda/Acura just to get that ONE feature. If they put the SH-AWD on the next TL, the decision will be an easy one.

  • avatar
    GlennS

    Thanks for the Forbes article on Honda (above)!
    My pleasure. :-)

    How can you NOT root for a company like that?!
    Exactly. :-)

    Yea, SH-AWD sounds good–am looking forward to driving a car that has it just to see how it feels / handles.

    Regards,
    -Glenn

  • avatar
    Voice of Sweden

    GlennS:
    January 12th, 2007 at 10:18 am
    According to Forbes.com:

    At American auto companies, finance guys and marketers rise to the top. Not at Honda.

    “Engineers Rule”

    This is also the rule in Sweden and Germany. In Sweden M.Eng. is seen as a true elite education and very few technology (incl. car and truck)-companies are run by non engineers. For example both AB Volvo and Scania CV AB is run by engineers – with one of them having a master in economics as an added extra.

    The risk with having an engineer running things is risking an over-engineered product. I’ve got a book about Rolls-Royce claiming that they had problems getting products finished with Royce around – he was a perfectionist. But the risks involved having b.a. + mba:s running car-companies could be worse.

  • avatar

    I read a lot of blogs and there is a thread of the same anti-Americanism that permeates the rest of the old media,(even though you are part of the new media), We all know the story of how a young J D Power was unsubtly shat upon by the then big three when he approached them to incorporate his statistical wizardry.The rest is customer satisfaction unrelated to longevity like the new initial quality surveys that rate the placement of the drink-holders to well nigh the same status as the mechanicals( lest the domestics get too close).
    Have you yerself driven the aforementioned “Z”? I see no reference to said drive in your attack. Others that have responded to your story have also made the point that the “Z” is a winner.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    I dont watch TV really – occasionally a show or two, but always recorded so i can FF through the commercials. I also only listen to public radio in the car – so i dont hear radio commerercials either. SO I dont really know who the car companies want to point their ads to. Nor do I care.

    It amazes me that its the outside of the car that sells it, EVEN tho after u buy it u are inside of it… i suppose that just human nature. I’ve been told that advertisement is also for people who already have the product – to reinforce the purchase – so when the payment book comes, you are not too shocked it didnt come with willowly blonds and/or distant shores.

    Haha – i really hate advertising. Really.

  • avatar
    GlennS

    I’m not sure “others” responding here is a good representative sample of the potential car-buying population, but okay, let’s assume the “Z” is a winner: Among the best cars built by Detroit today.

    However, the editorial (mainly) speaks to the MKZ ad, does it not?

    The ad raises an interesting question: does Lincoln’s marketing department have any idea who might want to buy their car?

    Gotta run: My Civic is quivering out in the parking lot.

    Well, actually, it does not really quiver much at all–I guess Honda engineers leave quivering to other types of cars…

    ;-)

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    After observing the latest Tundra, it’s obvious that Toyota has fallen for the supersized American garb. The big grill is nothing new (Dodge Ram circa 1994). All of that cladding is just for show.

  • avatar
    willbodine

    Once I was at the Frankfurt Auto Show on opening (to the public) day, early. Never had I seen so many intense, driven, 25-45 yo men that all looked pretty much alike. The journalist friend I was with said, “most of them are auto workers.” They were auto workers, and it was like they were going to church. One of these years I need to make it to Detroit to check out the opening day crowds…

  • avatar
    207guy

    Right on, Artman. I’m convinced that there is nothing Detroit could make that will get many of the posters here to buy American. I’ll give credit to overseas automakers when it’s deserved. Detroit will never get the same from many here.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Could we please never again refer to the Zephyr replacement as the “Z”?

    I mean, all due respect to Nissan and all

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