Category: Marketing

By on August 22, 2018

You aren’t going to see a lot of televised commercials for the BMW M2 Competition, as it’s an enthusiast car of the highest magnitude. A thirty-second spot in the middle of a popular sitcom doesn’t provide adequate time to run through a laundry list of performance specs for car nerds, and the blanketed marketing approach wouldn’t really be cost-effective, anyway. BMW needs a surgical strike, something viral that can be passed around the internet between the sort of people that actually might consider owning an M2.

That’s what makes its new marketing campaign for the model so good. Outside of offering the most fun you can have inside a car while wearing pants, the M2 isn’t setting any automotive records. It is, however, taking a stab at world records set by humans. Earlier this month, the automaker hooked up a laser to the front of the vehicle to see how many balloons it could pop in a single minute. A week later, it released another video in which it attempted to cut down 116 straw poles with a samurai sword.

We don’t need to tell you that attaching lasers and swords to a car’s exterior is very awesome. And it’s that feeling — like the whole ad campaign was dreamed up by an eight-year-old — that makes for an appealing gimmick.  Read More >

By on August 17, 2018

Toyota/Youtube

If it wasn’t for celebrity ad appearances, I wouldn’t know that Jim Rockford James Garner thinks the Mazda 626 is a great buy, or that Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling chooses the Ford LTD over all other domestic two-door hardtops, simply for the cabin noise level. Meanwhile, red-blooded males across America still can’t shake those recurring thoughts of the Mercury Milan AWD V6.

We owe a great debt to Hollywood.

And Toyota now owes a big, fat check to Chuck Norris, a 78-year-old man famous for driving a Dodge Ram pickup in a show where violent men routinely and inexplicably dropped their guns in order to engage each other with fists. The automaker gets playful in its latest spot for a truck it can’t help but sell boatloads of. Read More >

By on August 11, 2018

2017 Honda Civic Si Sedan - Image: Honda

Ford’s already brought the axe down on all but one of its car models, and General Motors looks ready to do the same. Other automakers, however, know that ditching sedans would mean abandoning key groups of customers.

For Toyota and Honda, models like the Camry and Civic resonate far more among some demographics, and leaving that segment risks losing those buyers to other brands. Not everyone wants a crossover. Among Asians, Hispanics, and African-Americans, four Japanese nameplates keep popping up at the top of the most-bought list, but one domestic model poses a growing threat. 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 July 18, 2018

2018 Hyundai Kona Rear - Image: Hyundai
Yesterday was Amazon’s self-proclaimed shopping holiday — “Prime Day” or, as we like to call it, “the Lonesome Christmas.” But you already knew that, because our corporate overlords mandated a reminder necessary to help procure the revenue that yields us the modestly priced vehicles and canned soups we’ve become accustomed to.

Unfortunately, if you were surfing the website in the hopes if finding a good deal on an automobile, you were out of luck. Amazon didn’t have cars as of yesterday, but it’s making swift progress on that. The digital retailer launched a research site in 2016 that allowed customers to gather information while amassing auto parts, accessories, and tools — which can be purchased and delivered to your home.

The site is now taking things a step further, adding real cars. As of July 18th, its partnership with Hyundai extends beyond just Alexa integration via the automaker’s Blue Link technology. Amazon Vehicles promotes actual, physical cars, allowing you to browse and customize them much like you would a pair of pants, via a virtual showroom.  Read More >

By on July 14, 2018

Having released the pint-sized Kicks crossover into the North American market last month, Nissan needed marketing material to help boost visibility. Normally, car ads are platitudinous, offering little in the way of novelty to get us truly excited. The reason for this is because trying something different can result in an overwhelmingly bizarre experience. Kia’s reverse aging of Steven Tyler inside the Stinger GT is a prime example. It was the wrong rockstar for its target demographic and left us scratching our heads.

Other automakers allow marketing companies to pilot the brand into weird abstractions where they aren’t selling a car so much as an identity. Cadillac stumbled into trouble with this a few years ago, leaning into a more product-based advertising strategy ever since.

So what of the Kicks? The vehicle is clearly aimed at trendy youngsters seeking a good deal and some style. Will its ads cater to them, offering something vaguely informational, or will it be another televised dudRead More >

By on July 12, 2018

We told you yesterday of the hurdles facing the fledgling Genesis brand, a standalone luxury marque launched two years ago under the umbrella of Hyundai Motor Group. Currently, just two models reside in the Genesis stable —  the midsize G80 and full-size G90, with the 3 Series-fighting G70 bowing later this year.

It’s been a slow, measured start for the brand, but a shifting strategy for its U.S. dealer network means these early days haven’t been easy ones. A Genesis spokesman tells us that the brand’s inventory is being whittled down ahead of the launch of the revamped network alongside fresh, 2019 model year vehicles. Just how many Genesis dealers will exist at that time is unknown. Read More >

By on June 19, 2018

Imasge: Mary McCormack/Twitter

Never let a crisis go to waste, goes the saying. In this case, it’s an actress and her husband facing a car shortage and a rival automaker sensing an opportunity for a juicy dig.

Mary McCormack, who appeared on the endlessly referenced political drama The West Wing, tweeted a video of a Model S in flames Friday, claiming the blaze broke out “out of the blue” as her husband’s Tesla cruised through traffic in West Hollywood. She directed her tweet at Tesla.

General Motors has since capitalized on the unsolved blaze, offering McCormack and her husband, identified as director Michael Norris, a new Chevy Bolt. Read More >

By on June 5, 2018

In 1987, Ford Motor Company published a game for the long-defunct disk operating system universally known as “DOS.” In reality, the software was less of a game and more of a digital showroom that allowed you to demo the company’s 1988 lineup from the comfort of your personal computer. As marketing materials go, you couldn’t have done much better than this for the era, and now it’s a top-rate piece of automotive nostalgia.

Ford Simulator was essentially the car-based equivalent to the CDs distributed by America Online, but before such a thing even existed. The software just had a way of casually showing up and finding its way into your computer room. This was an era when promotional materials were physical and technology had reached a point where the industry could experiment a little.

Tragically, the internet has eliminated this phenomenon like a dog with rabies. You don’t see much physical media at automotive trade shows anymore and any games that include branded models come through publishers that are able to work out a deal with automakers.

However, for almost 10 years, Ford produced a series of computer programs many of us remember fondly — despite being objectively terrible to play. Read More >

By on May 29, 2018

Audi officially unveils its all-new Q8 utility vehicle next week. Unfortunately, I’ll be forced to watch episodes of the terrible miniseries the company decided to use as a digital hype machine until that time.

After expressing my concerns over the initial episode’s lack of vision and total inability to provide viewers with a single meaningful image of the automobile, I can happily report back that Audi has solved one of those problems nine days later. Having just finished episode three, the plot remains as meaningless as the lyrics to Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti.” However, we are finally treated to a brief glimpse of the Q8’s bodywork — which is all I’m willing to care about at this point.  Read More >

By on May 21, 2018

The marketing wizards at Audi decided to unveil the upcoming Q8 crossover via a series of internet shorts, called #Q8Unleased #Q8Unleashed, chronicling the antics of Sandra and Quentin — who we’re told are an “an extravagant power couple” living in California who have fallen upon dark times. Curious about the vehicle and Audi’s attempt at digital drama, I caught the first episode today.

Having just completed my viewing, I have to admit I feel a little cheated. To my dismay, the three-minute video didn’t include a single meaningful shot of the new utility vehicle. While I didn’t expect Audi to give up a front three-quarter view in episode one, I also didn’t expect a half-second glimpse of the Q8 badge followed by tight interior shots of the protagonists. Unless you have supreme interest in the vehicle’s headrests, there is really nothing for you here.

However, if you’re interested in extended shower scenes, brief fights that involve men hugging each other, and bad R&B songs produced exclusively for internet dramas, then you’ll be elated with the rest of this article. As for the Audi that’s likely to appear in subsequent episodes, all I can tell you is I think it’s orange.  Read More >

By on May 8, 2018

2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid

The first mass-market hybrid in the Western World, the Honda Insight, debuted while we were still worrying whether Y2K would lead us back into the Stone Age. Some days, I wonder whether we’d be better off if it had.

Regardless of my personal feelings about humanity and societal progression, we’ve had nearly two decades to familiarize ourselves with the gas-electric powertrain, but apparently not everyone got the message. A recent survey of 1,000 drivers shows there’s still plenty of confusion over what a hybrid car is actually capable of. Read More >

By on May 2, 2018

The news lately has been plenty full of speculation and angry comments about Ford’s decision to kill off anything with a trunk (save the Mustang, for now).

Generally, the consensus among the B&B seems to be that Ford is making an ill-advised and short-sighted decision. Well, today’s your chance to build your own lineup of profitable, future-proof vehicles in a game I just invented.

Read More >

By on April 19, 2018

GM marketplace

General Motors is updating its on-board digital marketplace to allow customers to purchase fuel without ever having to leave the vehicle. You’ll still have to leave the confines of the vehicle to actually pump the gas, unless you live in New Jersey, but the exchange of money is handled entirely by the world’s first “in-dash fuel payment system.”

What a time to be alive.

The new service is available via the Shell widget, which is already featured on GM’s Marketplace app (providing directions to the nearest Shell station). The corporate collaboration allows respective patrons to select a nearby Shell station, use the map to navigate there, park, select a pump, fill up, and drive away. Payment is automatically charged through Shell’s Fuel Rewards program.  Read More >

By on April 2, 2018

All-New Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Compact SUV - Image: Mitsubishi

Now part of an alliance with cash and platforms to toss around, Mitsubishi’s growing bolder in its quest to remind buyers that it’s not about to disappear from the American automotive landscape. Buyers, of course, are already helping the brand regain its footing. February’s U.S. sales were the highest since the heady and ominous year of 2007 (up 18.8 percent, year over year).

Through the end of February, U.S. sales are up 23.4 percent over the same period in 2017.

Having crawled out of the five-figure sales number nightmare that plagued the brand over the past decade, Mitsubishi dealers met in Las Vegas recently to discuss the near future. Some requests were granted, but a long-standing demand went unfulfilled. Read More >

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