Category: Marketing

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 >

By on September 16, 2018

While I throughly enjoy motorsport, my NASCAR fandom has dwindled over the years. It’s not a frequency I’m perpetually tuned into anymore, but I revisit the series regularly to keep tabs on what’s happening. However, when I put on Sunday’s race, I noticed something different about the cars. Jimmie Johnson’s Chevrolet had a picture of his own face on the side, as did Martin Truex Jr.’s Toyota. What the hell was going on?

A few minutes of investigation later, I learned that NASCAR had decided to slap emoji’s on the side of every important vehicle to celebrate the 2018 NASCAR Playoffs. Monster Energy Cup Series race teams have each unveiled customized hashtags and emojis for all 16 of the competing drivers in collaboration with the Race Team Alliance and Twitter. And it’s probably my least favorite marketing gimmick in motorsport’s history. Read More >

By on September 6, 2018

With Ford Motor Company dropping all but one car from its lineup to focus on utility vehicles and crossovers, there’s little reason to run ad campaigns for both. You don’t see Coca-Cola running spots for both Diet Coke and Coke BlāK, as the latter of the two beverages disappeared from store shelves roughly a decade ago. Companies don’t bother pushing products they don’t have, and pretty soon Ford won’t have cars.

Thus, the automaker has ended all nationwide marketing for the Fiesta, Focus, Taurus, and Fusion. Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, said the automaker intends to use the freed advertising dollars on the company’s current and forthcoming utility models — setting aside a portion for the Mustang. But the Fusion, which is slated to stick around for another two years, will have to go without. Read More >

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 >

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