Category: Marketing

By on November 1, 2019

Cooperation between automakers is a good way to cope with rising costs but, if we’re being honest, it’s much more exciting when they don’t get along. Think about some of your favorite automobiles. Odds are good that they have a counterpart from another manufacturer they’re supposed to be warring with — Mustang vs Camaro, WRX STI vs Lancer Evolution, Camry vs Accord, Gremlin vs Pinto.

The best rivalries are between manufacturers, as those provide ample opportunity for snide marketing. If we had our druthers, automakers would be forced to compete in biannual gladiator-style competitions that open with scored trash talk. But dreams rarely come true; automotive bloodsports probably require a few years of heavy planning, too.

Luckily, industrial-grade insults aren’t something we have to wait for. To our delight, Daimler AG and BMW Group were going at it on Halloween.  Read More >

By on September 13, 2019

Ads for the 2020 Lincoln Aviator are scheduled to drop this Saturday, but those of us with internet access got to see them a day early. Lincoln’s “Fresh Take” campaign is a bit of a misnomer, however, because the person who’s chiming in on the new model is Matthew McConaughey.

Ford has used the Oscar-winning actor to showcase its premium products for years now, and this writer is not ashamed to say that he’s grown to love them. While not particularly substantive, they’re difficult to look away from. McConaughey muses about the vehicle in a calm, dreamlike haze. Occasionally looking into the rearview mirror before casually reapplying his attention to the always clear road ahead, he’s presumably talking to himself — but it’s really for our benefit.

And that’s why I’m so fond of them. In my mind, McConaughey is a polished lunatic — not quite a Patrick Bateman, but definitely unhinged. And it translates into comedy gold. Yet another viewer might see the ad and think, “Boy he’s handsome and calm — it’s like nothing is ever going to go wrong inside that car.” Read More >

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 July 23, 2019

Elon Musk certainly hasn’t been kind towards Ford in the past, talking about how the Dearborn truck plant is like a morgue. It’s a bold move considering his cars are assembled outdoors in a tent, but that hasn’t stopped the Twitter man from tweeting. He even recently claimed the Tesla all-electric pickup truck will be as good as Ford’s truck but also be able to tow 300,000 pounds.

Yes, that’s a totally ridiculous number and there’s no way the truck will tow that much in the real world, under the SAE J2807 standard. That’s assuming, of course, the Tesla pickup even exists. While Musk has long teased the truck, we’ve yet to actually see it in any physical capacity. It’s easy to say (or joke) your truck can tow 300,000 pounds when it doesn’t actually exist.

Ford is also working on an all-electric pickup truck. Today the company released a video of that development process, including the vehicle towing rail cars weighing over 1 million pounds. Not only is that 700,000 pounds more than Tesla’s claim but, since it’s a real truck that really exists, we can actually see it do it.  Read More >

By on June 26, 2019

Next year, BMW plans to equip all plug-in hybrid models with a standard function that automatically switches the automobile into electric mode whenever it enters an area designated for emissions-free driving. While the change is universal, the feature won’t get much action in the United States where government-mandated electrification is less pervasive than a Europe or China.

Still, that’s a sizable chunk of the brand’s global market. Hoping to appeal to it, Bavarian Motor Works went on an electric kick for Tuesday, announcing the electrically powered Motorrad Vision DC Roadster motorbike, Vision M Next Concept, testbed “Power BEV” drive units, upgrades to the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, and a bunch of other tech hand picked for the unsettlingly trendy #NEXTGen event.

However, the “eDrive Zone” PHEV geofencing system was one of the few items that has been scheduled for production. Unfortunately, it’s going to incorporate some gamification into the driving experience — making us suspicious of BMW’s ultimate goal.   Read More >

By on February 13, 2019

Lexus unveiled a collaboration with Nike and designer John Elliot at New York Fashion Week, celebrating both human and automotive footwear. The finished piece, titled “Sole of the UX,” is scheduled to make additional appearances across the country later this year, touring with a matching pair of Nike AF1 shoes.

After conducting a bit of research, Elliott appears to be a fashion designer specializing in the least imaginative streetwear ever to enter mass production. His beige drawstring pants, which run about $200 USD, are probably the most creative item in his entire catalog. The brunt of his collection involves plain shirts and lots of faded denim.

While not hideous by any means, it’s devoid of any unique style. The articles of clothing Elliot specializes in are the kind of pieces you’d wear while running errands or relaxing at home. They just cost a lot more. However, as Elliot openly describes his take on fashion as intentionally “basic,” there’s little reason to get ultra salty over how so much of his fashion line resembles a high-quality burlap sack. Instead, let’s focus our collective ire on Lexus. Read More >

By on January 30, 2019

Volvo is taking a very unique approach to its advertising for the Super Bowl this year. Rather than simply have the network air its commercials during the breaks, it has decided to compete with the game directly for viewership.

Called “The Longest Drive,” the automaker’s smartphone game is reminiscent of dealer and radio contests where people have to keep their hands on the car to win it. The difference here is that Volvo is concerned with your eyes. Participants will compete to log the most amount of time looking at stock footage of the Volvo S60 in the hopes of claiming one as a prize.

Mercedes-Benz tried something similar last year with its digitized “Last Fan Standing” competition. In that contest, people were asked to keep their finger on a Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe as the company monitored their cell phone, waiting for them to make a mistake. Unfortunately, mistakes were made long before the contest began.  Read More >

By on December 3, 2018

2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid engine close-up

Despite long, grinding years of adulthood, the word “synergy” still reminds this author of the character on the excruciatingly 1980s cartoon Jem and the Holograms, which his older sister would commandeer the TV set for on various mornings. To Toyota, the word is the centerpiece of Hybrid Synergy Drive — the name applied to its hybrid drivetrains since the dawn of the gas-electric era.

Times change and, just as hoop earrings are no longer rad, the word “hybrid” has evolved to mean any one of a confusingly long list of gas-electric propulsion systems. Studies show that a great many consumers are still mystified about hybrids.

Hybrid Synergy Drive needs a makeover. Read More >

By on November 19, 2018

Automakers are obsessed with promoting high-tech concepts in an effort to prove to investors and the general public that they aren’t falling behind the times. While artificial intelligence remains the gold standard, what constitutes A.I. can get a little foggy. However, in the present, the term can be used to describe any machine that effectively mimics cognitive behaviors, like the ability to learn or create.

Car manufacturers want to fine tune specific A.I. examples to be implemented in autonomous driving hardware and high-end, modern infotainment systems. For example Mercedes-Benz wants to use the technology to build a more serious relationship between drivers and its cars by allowing future vehicles to “learn” about the driver. Meanwhile, General Motors decided to branch out to see how such a system would handle marketing by linking up OnStar Go with IBM’s Watson, an A.I. which famously beat Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings.

Watson is now working with Lexus and taking things a step further. The automaker just released a new advertisement it claims was written by IBM’s machine and directed by Kevin Macdonald.  Read More >

By on November 12, 2018

Image: FCA

Some police operations are only made possible by the inclusion of vehicles with 164 horsepower, a (debatably) has-been reggae/pop singer, and the guy from Dune.

The latest marketing coup, if it can be called that, on Fiat Chrysler’s plate involves these three elements, combined with an ’80s-themed, Crockett & Tubbs-like storyline and a hysterical typo that’s still on the automaker’s media site. Read More >

By on November 6, 2018

Dodge recently launched a 30-second commercial as part of Fiat Chrysler’s new “Big Finish” advertising campaign. While a competent bit of marketing, it falls into the trap of deploying holiday marketing immediately after Halloween.

On the surface, it has everything you’d want from a Christmas-themed car ad. Professional wrestler, former NFL player, and American icon Bill Goldberg makes an appearance as Santa while dwarves install a 6.2-liter Hemi into his sleigh. The Butt Rock comes on strong, accented by angle grinders and relentless engine revving until Santa’s new ride is completed. They even put antlers on the Hellcat logo. It’s stupid and awesome but also way too early for this.

We’re willing to forgive FCA. The automaker has been pretty good about not making commercials that make us strangle anyone of late. Frankly, that’s more than we can say about some of the other domestic nameplates.  Read More >

By on October 28, 2018

Chevrolet Silverado purchase GM dealer - Image: GM

For the most part, the major benefit of brand loyalty is not getting into an argument with your family members at the dinner table. Grandpa worked for General Motors, Dad buys Chevy exclusively, and you decided not to buck the trend. You even bragged about Aunt Beth helping you get a sweet deal on that new Malibu, while everyone nodded in approval between bites of turkey.

However, there are more tangible rewards for sticking with a singular auto brand. Now that the Western market has surpassed peak growth, manufacturers know that it’s going to be a lot harder to reel in new customers. They’ve decided to shift tactics by offering incentives to existing customers in the hopes that they won’t leave them the next time they need a fresh vehicle.  Read More >

By on October 19, 2018

Image: Ford/YouTube

Ford Motor Company dropped its first Bryan Cranston-filled “Built Ford Proud” commercial today, offering the Breaking Bad alumnus an opportunity to cast aspersions at the company’s rivals, including industry startups. It’s filled with Ted Talk-bashing, futurespeak-trashing bravado linked together with a thread of get ‘er done, implying that talk is cheap, and real progress takes hard work.

You can count on Ford to build the future — that’s the message here.

Halfway through the ad, a 1960s Mustang blasting through a desert landscape morphs into a contemporary model, then morphs again into something else. But what is it? Read More >

By on October 18, 2018

2018 Chrysler Pacifica S Appearance Package, Image: FCA

Of all the automakers embroiled in the Mad Men-era rush to plumb the psyches of American car buyers, Chrysler’s Dodge division stood head and shoulders above the rest in one key marketing element: sex. It sells, apparently, and Chrysler Corp. made sure to instill a little bit of it, overtly or subconsciously, into its print and TV advertising. As the circa ’66-67 “Dodge Rebellion” campaign gave way to 1968-70’s “Dodge Fever” gambit, the impact of the counterculture movement and America’s rapidly liberalizing attitudes soon became apparent in Dodge’s ad copy.

It was this era in Chrysler’s marketing history that spawned what’s arguably the most sexist (and psychosexual) car ad ever printed: Dodge’s 1969 Charger R/T ad, titled “The Eternal Triangle.”

These were sexy times for America, but even sexier times for Dodge, which had clearly grown too hot under the collar. The onset of the 1970s saw the brand put the tie-dyed shirt and address book in storage, trading its hedonistic copy for the far tamer “Dodge Material” campaign, and the rest is history (some of it quite embarrassing). Given this rich marketing heritage, it’s nice to see Chrysler attempt to spice up a family-oriented minivan with sex. Read More >

By on September 25, 2018

GM marketplace

General Motors has begun surveying how its drivers experience in-car multimedia, specifically the radio, as part of its new strategy to track customer habits and maximize the profitability of information. With 4G LTE WiFi connectivity now featured inside millions of GM vehicles, the automaker believes technology can be used to fine tune its future marketing strategies.

While an invaluable insight tool for advertisers, it’s also the perfect example of the kind of thing we’ve been complaining about for the last couple of years. General Motors is leaning into Big Data as hard as possible, meaning your personal information could soon be on the line — if it isn’t already.  Read More >

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