Brad Kozak

I'm a marketing guy, who loves cars - but hates most automobile advertising. I'm also a writer, graphic designer, animator, musician, and stand-up philosopher.

By on April 14, 2009

The background on this billboard: AutoInc owns/owned the two Dodge dealerships in Amarillo, and the single Chrysler/Jeep dealership. Under the influence of Chrysler, they split the stock from the Chrysler/Jeep store, closed it, and turned both Dodge stores into Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep stores. Of course, since nobody knows for sure what’s happening with Chrysler, the dealer is not gonna spend a dime on redoing their signage. Their compromise was to update a nearby billboard they lease just a block away from their I-40 fronting store.

Apparently, somebody didn’t bother to think past how clever they were trying to be: to realize that dodge ball is played by knocking out your opponents by hitting them with a ball. I’m not sure what “dodge ball” has to do with selling cars, or even why “having a ball” would be a good thing if you buy a Dodge (or Chrysler or Jeep). The negative connotations are so riveting I just can’t wrap my mind around why anybody would have greenlighted this.

Sadly, I know EXACTLY what happened since I used to work for the in-house ad agency that handles this dealership. In fact, I did that billboard for the dealership a couple of years ago. The entire agency functions like a camel (a horse designed by committee).

By on March 6, 2009

Back in Motown’s heyday, in-house design giants like Harley Earl set the automotive fashion trends. Rockets, airplanes, Googie, breasts—vehicular taste-makers drew inspiration from the pop culture gestalt. Today’s car designers are no different. Specifically, they’ve turned to urban parade makers for their sheetmetal cues, favoring designs that evoke the wretched excess of a rapper’s bling. Unlike Earl and his cohorts, contemporary car designers suffer from Marty McFly Complex: they try dangerous things to show that they’re not creative cowards. The Ray Gun Gothic designs of day’s past had “it.” Our time’s blingmobiles are just plain embarrassing.

By on July 24, 2007

galdiator.jpgThe love of all things Jeep ranks high in the automotive pantheon of passion. Porschephiles, ‘Vettistas, Hemiheads, Scuderia– they ain’t got nothin’ on Jeepaholia (Hi, my name is Brad and I love Jeeps.) Jeep devotees are a hardy breed, born to be wild. Other than domestic and commuter runs, they ALWAYS take the road untraveled; sneering at mud, chuckling at chuckholes, belly laughing at boulders. Hummers, Land Cruisers, 4Runners and other four wheel-drive pretenders to the throne are equally capable in certain situations, but they lack Jeep’s visceral appeal. So what is it about the brand that keeps the faithful faithful?

By on June 24, 2007

yeehaw2.jpgEven though automotive advertising is fleeing print for the Internet, national TV ads are still an automaker’s most important showcase– and they know it. From GM’s levitating HHR’s to Jill Wagner’s Mercurial presence, car ads remain big budget productions from start to finish. Automobile manufacturers spend more time, effort and money (per second) to create your average 30-second car commercial than the networks spend to make an entire 30-minute sitcom. So why are viewers subjected to local dealer ads – touting the same products – that look like they cost a buck ninety-five?

By on June 16, 2007

betterdays.jpgOnce upon a time, a "brand" was something you burned into the hide of your horse. The mark told everyone "this one's mine." It also served as a kind of frontier Lo-Jack against the varmits what done rustled your horses. In those days, brands were just about impossible to change. Now as then, "brand loyalty" was the breeder's best chance of staying in business. Only applied to modern pickup trucks, the concept is fast going the way of the Conestoga wagon.

By on June 3, 2007

chevycitation.jpgAs TTAC’s GM Deathwatch approaches the mid-century mark, its detractors continue to justify their scorn by mocking its episodic tally. I look forward to GM DW 1346, they scoff. Others of us understand that this chronicle would have reached that number already if RF had begun when some of us first realized GM was doomed. For me, that recognition arrived via the GM X-Body. 

By on May 7, 2007

ehponlineorg.jpg Current Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards dictate that U.S. automobile manufacturers must produce vehicles whose overall average achieves 27.5 mpg (for cars) and/or 22.2 mpg (for trucks). The regulation’s stated goal: “encourage” manufacturers to build more fuel-efficient vehicles and, therefore, somehow, eventually, “lead” American consumers into buying same. Yeah right.

By on May 1, 2007

4sq2.jpgSometime between the sale of the first Model T and now, the automobile business has come to represent all that is wrong with sales, marketing and advertising. According to the surveys that track respect for professions, automobile salesmen are bottom feeders, swimming just above the mud with politicians and marketing folk. Do new and used-car dealers deserve such scorn? Absolutely. The truth about car dealers lies far closer to the stereotype than what they’d like you to believe.

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