By on July 25, 2019

Buick Regal Mistaken Identity commercial screenshot - Image: Buick/Youtube

Encore, not Regal. Regal TourX if you please, not the Cascada. No to the LaCrosse, yes to the Enclave. Regal Sportback shunned, Envision approved.

This isn’t an elementary analysis of the pro-crossover/anti-car trends of the marketplace or GM’s China-centric Buick brand. Rather, it’s the message Buick seems to be sending in its own advertising.

Of course, that’s not the official line from Buick PR. But the more you watch the six-month-old “Mistaken Identity” commercial, the more you wonder what Buick must think of its own cars. Read More >

By on June 21, 2019

If there’s one thing I loved about spending time in the offices of General Managers and dealership principals, it was hearing about the harebrained schemes they had to bring customers into the dealership. GMs see an average of 80 or more vendors every single month — there’s always a new piece of software, a new way to buy inventory, even a new way to wash the windows. Invariably, due to some combination of pressure to meet unrealistic sales goals and the attractiveness of the sales rep, managers would fall for something that would make me shake my rather large head in disbelief.

The tough part was always maintaining a straight face when they told me about their plans. One of my fondest memories was listening to a GM explain that he had canceled all of his third party advertisers and ordered two Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tubemen. I wasn’t entirely surprised to see that the store was out of business 90 days later.

But one of my all-time, tried and true favorites is the “gypsy sale.” Click the jump to see our friend Greg’s question about these direct mail pieces and whether or not they actually work. Read More >

By on April 9, 2019

2019 Ford Taurus SE Oxford White, Image: FordMy first installment centered around the neglected, beancounted “heart and soul of an American hero,” with a sense of pride in bespoke platforms and powertrains. But the re-killing of the Ford Taurus lacks nationalistic sorrow: the hometown hero was a name looking for a globally-engineered sedan, in a declining market, foolishly butted up against another Ford sedan with cooler stuff (a la hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and a SHO-worthy Sport with 325 turbocharged horses). 

Ouch. RIP Ford Taurus. 

Read More >

By on January 28, 2019

lincoln navigator grille badge lincoln logo

Last year, Ford announced its intent to develop a rewards program aimed at keeping customers engaged — while also making it worth their while to stick with the brand for their next purchase. While customer rewards are old hat, regardless of industry, automakers are busy devising new ways of using the venerable marketing theory to improve customer retention. It’s an urgent gambit, given today’s cooling market.

General Motors launched its “My GM Rewards” loyalty program in 2018, using a points-based system to reward customers who use OnStar’s new services, purchase a new vehicle, or service an older one. Those points can then be redeemed, knocking some cash off a subsequent GM purchase. Meanwhile, Honda previewed “Dream Drive” at the recent Consumer Electronics Show — a concept with its own redeemable points system (one that incorporates some potentially unsettling gamification within the app).

While Ford’s FordPass-based efforts appeared similar, it wasn’t until this month’s North American Dealers Association (NADA) meeting that the automaker was willing to flesh it out.  Read More >

By on October 23, 2018

 

tire saleYou already saw our feature on the tire sale at TireRack on Goodyear winter tires, but it’s looking like the online superstore has a bunch of ways to earn some solid cashback between now and the end of the month. Covering everything from winter and all terrain tires to more basic all-seasons, the deals include options from Michelin, Continental, Yokohama, Cooper, Dick Cepek, Firestone, Khumo, and Pirelli. Click through the links below for a closer look at the various promos out there and how to qualify.

Read More >

By on August 23, 2018

2018 Chrysler Pacifica Limited - Image: Chrysler

Let’s not kid ourselves. American demand for minivans is still shrinking. In fact, July sales in particular tumbled as three of the four top-selling minivan nameplates – a trio that accounts for nearly three-quarters of the sector’s volume – combined to lose more than 5,400 sales, year-over-year.

But set aside all of that negativity for just a moment and consider the segment in a more historical context. After more than a decade of collapsing demand, in which minivan volume plunged 54 percent between 2005 and 2015, the first seven months of 2018 reveal a hardy bunch of remaining stalwarts that have very nearly levelled off on an acceptable grade.

2018 is nevertheless on track to be the worst year for U.S. minivan volume since the recession. In this case, however, “worst” is beginning to sound like too strong of a word. Read More >

By on July 19, 2018

On Thursday, Hyundai unveiled a special edition of its Kona crossover on the opening day of the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con. Revealed at the Marvel booth, the Kona “Iron Man Edition” features a bevy of design elements that either resemble or tip their hat to the famous comic book icon. All told, it’s probably one of the most comprehensive example of cross promotion in recent history.

How desirable it is will be highly dependent on the person you’re asking, however.

I’m going to acknowledge my prejudice against these types of vehicles upfront. While I’m all for wild paint jobs and tasteless accessories, there’s something about this kind of cross-branding that chaps my posterior. It isn’t just that automobiles are supposed to be purchased by adults (we already know that they’re ravenous consumers of things they recognize from their childhood). It’s the half-hearted effort that’s typically placed behind them.  Read More >

By on January 21, 2018

2019 Mustang Bullitt

While Ford hasn’t announced the pricing of the new Bullitt Mustang, the first example just sold for three-hundred grand at auction. We’re presuming future production models will be considerably more affordable because, damn, that’s a lot to spend on an appearance package and a few extra horses — even if the end result is undeniably cool.

Fortunately, all the proceeds went to supporting the Boys Republic — a charity near and dear to Steve McQueen. In addition to being remanded to the school after his own mother signed a court order that he was “incorrigible,” a matured McQueen often visited its children during the holidays and frequently donated large sums of money to the organization.  Read More >

By on December 28, 2017

2018 Lincoln Navigator Ad

Ford has been fine-tuning the Lincoln brand for a while now and improving the cars is only half the story. A luxury nameplate needs more than a lineup of quality autos, it needs prestige. Since taking on Matthew McConaughey as its official spokesmodel, Lincoln has witnessed an uptick in sales — growing by 1.6 percent year over year through November 2017 in the United States.

How much of that can be attributed directly to the Oscar-winning actor is up for debate. But you don’t mess with the formula when you start making headway, so Lincoln has decided to press onward with another weird add with him in the driver’s seat of the 2018 Navigator.  Read More >

By on December 18, 2017

Lincoln Experience Center OC

If affluent people like one thing, it’s large stores offering heaps of customer service and absolutely nothing to sell. You know the sort of shops I’m referencing. There’s a doorman, a leather couch, and someone who brings you coffee while you browse an inventory consisting of half-a-dozen ludicrously overpriced designer jackets.

A number of premium automotive brands have recently seized on this concept. There are already a handful of luxury brands with physical locations in cities harboring a wealth-intensive populace that offer an ambiance-intensive experience. Not to be outdone, Lincoln has taken that theory the full mile in Newport Beach, California.

While technically a dealership, the Lincoln Experience Center doesn’t sell anything. Instead, it provides patrons with a place to relax and muse about future ownership. There’s a cafe offering complementary coffee, tea, and infused water. Not thirsty? The site also has a “story wall” that provides a rotating collection of artifacts, art, and fashion that somehow relates to the brand. I even found out that they’ll wrap your holiday gifts on December 23rd if you’re in the area. But if you want to buy a car, you’ll have to look elsewhere.  Read More >

By on September 3, 2017

Subaru Dog Ad

Automotive advertising has always been an amalgamation of information and hype. Carmakers use commercials to inform the public of what makes their model different and new, while simultaneously promising an intangible goodness. Mid-century ads were less specific, reassuring prospective customers of a nondescript better way of life, but modern marketing has become much more focused. If ads are to be believed, buying a car today means purchasing more than just the hardware its comprised of — you’re buying an identity.

I’m reminded of a collection of car commercials from the 1960s that essentially vowed to nerds that, if they bought a specific car, they would be pursued endlessly by attractive women. It was a bold and extremely unsubtle way to kick off the new trend.

We’ve come a long way evolved slightly since then, but the concept of identity-focused advertising is more popular than ever. In fact, Subaru attributes a large portion of its own success to marketing that closely associates the brand with good values, family, lovable mutts, and the great outdoorsRead More >

By on August 11, 2017

Jeep Cherokee

Not to sound overly patriotic or offend my Canadian coworkers, but United States is responsible for giving the world so much greatness that it’s difficult not to get a little misty eyed when I stop to think about it.

America’s long history of inventiveness has blessed the globe with modern marvels like sunglasses, chewing gum, kitty litter, the atomic bomb and, of course, sport utility vehicles. While the atomic bomb doesn’t get much broad praise these days, the rest of the aforementioned items are exceptionally popular outside the nation’s borders — especially SUVs and their bastard offspring, the crossover.

In fact, they’ve been such a runaway success that SUVs accounted for over 25 percent of all European passenger vehicle sales in 2016. That’s up from 21 percent in 2015 and there’s no sign of it stopping anytime soon. Sport utility vehicles are expected to surpass a third of the region’s new vehicle market by 2020. Assumedly, America’s own SUV sales will be hovering around 100 percent by then — maybe more. But let’s not discount how crossover-crazy the rest of the globe has become or forget to remind ourselves that most of the world’s best-selling SUVs aren’t exactly “Made in America.”  Read More >

By on July 11, 2017

2018 Honda Odyssey Silver Driver Front quarter

Who knew the well-equipped 2018 Honda Odyssey was so… titillating? An unsuspecting journalist over at Forbes saw a few more — let’s call them entertainment options — than she expected while browsing through the video selection offered via her Odyssey tester’s rear media screen.

At that point, things became a little hot under the collar at Honda.

Read More >

By on July 9, 2017

Toyota Camry Assembly Factory Georgetown

Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota Motor North America, is going to great lengths to tell the world his company is only going to get better in the years to come — proving to his employer that he knows exactly what his job entails. In addition to explaining how the brand’s new modular architecture will give assembly lines much-needed flexibility, this week also had him announcing Toyota won’t dawdle anymore on getting product into consumer hands.

“I think we’re going to be quicker to market,” Lentz announced to the press at Toyota’s brand new $1 billion Texas headquarters on Thursday. “Before if you were part of the sales organization, you had your own legal team [and] HR team, so there was a lot of redundancy across the organization … we were able to streamline that and, with a lot of the headcount changes, we were able to hire more engineers to our operation in Ann Arbor, as we continue to develop vehicles here in North America, for North America.”   Read More >

By on June 8, 2017

2017 Subaru Impreza 5-door Sport - Image: SubaruSubaru of America set an all-time annual sales record in 2009.

You remember 2009, though you’d likely prefer to forget it.

The auto industry all but collapsed as the global economy went into meltdown. After total U.S. new vehicle sales volume fell to a 25-year low in 2008, sales tumbled a further 21 percent in 2009, the worst year for auto sales since 1982.

And yet Subaru of America set a sales record in 2009.

2017 is no 2009. But after surging to record levels in 2016, the U.S. auto industry’s sales volume is once again shrinking, albeit modestly. But Subaru of America president Tom Doll told Automotive News, “We certainly think we’re going to have our ninth consecutive year of record sales.”

No doubt. Read More >

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