By on January 18, 2019

In a rare victory for television, General Motors was forced to pull one of its obnoxious “Real People” ads earlier this week after Ford, Toyota, and Honda cried foul over its claims. If you missed our earlier coverage, the gist was that GM stated Chevrolet was the more dependable brand by surprising rival owners — who were definitely not paid actors — with totally reliable data…

One of the biggest problems with the spot was that the reliability-related praise heaped on Chevrolet’s vehicles was, in many cases, supported by data obtained from previous-generation vehicles. That gave the annoyed automakers solid footing to call the commercial misleading and deploy their lawyers. Earlier this month, GM’s legal team was sent a letter demanding the company stop making the reliability claims in its television campaign and was given until January 14th to respond to the demands.

General Motors ultimately responded by saying the ad had already stopped airing nationally and that it would be removed from local markets in the coming weeks. It noted that it stood by the claims. Then, earlier today, it also removed the commercial from the internet.  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 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 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 July 23, 2018

Honda has launched a new media campaign for the Insight, a model that stages its third reappearance for the 2019 model year. The media push frames other hybrids as ugly, boring vehicles you have to settle for in order to gain superior fuel economy. There’s a social media initiative that transforms everyday objects into something more interesting and a television spot where other vehicles mill around while covered in bubble letters that spell out “blah” or “meh,” with horns and engine noises to match.

But the whole ad seems counterintuitive. The Insight ditched its funky wheel coverings after the first generation, which was followed by the loss of the glass-back hatch. Now it’s a pretty normal looking vehicle. You might even mistake it for a miniature Honda Accord.

That’s not an insult; the Accord isn’t a bad looking vehicle, but it also blends in easily with traffic. A large part of that is due to its popularity, but it still calls into question the whole premise of the ad — which serves to portray other hybrids as mundane.  Read More >

By on February 5, 2018

mercedes-benz logo

Automotive advertising and the Super Bowl are intrinsically linked. Car spots populate the commercial breaks, the most valuable player gets a free truck, and there is usually a contest or two sponsored by a major manufacturer. This year, Mercedes-Benz had a rather clever idea: to create a digital version of the hand-on game where the last participant to break physical contact with a vehicle (usually a Hyundai) gets to take it home.

Scheduled to coincide with kick-off, contestants would keep their fingers planted on their phones for the duration of the game for the chance to win a brand new Mercedes-AMG C43. The last person to allow their digit to stray from the moving photo would be awarded the car. But there was a problem — too many people tried to play the Mercedes-Benz Last Fan Standing game and it immediately crashed.

Read More >

By on October 27, 2017

aston-martin-vanquish Tom Brady Edition
I’ve already made the case against Aston Martin using Tom Brady as a brand ambassador. However, after months of marinating in a pool of semi-rational anger, I came to the realization that not everyone would view it as a step down from James Bond.

Brady was chosen specifically to appeal to the United States because Aston wants to bolster sales in North America. His eerily straight teeth and All American Good Looks™ were a marketing selection, albeit an incredibly boring one.

While I prattle on endlessly about how unsettling I find the man, what I find particularly bothersome is that we’re supposed to presume Brady is an automotive enthusiast and ambassador of good taste. However, I’ve never seen him doing guest spots on motoring shows and his penchant for the finer things appears to be nothing more than a byproduct of his being successful. So, when Aston announced the $360,000 car he spent five months helping design was finished, my eyes rolled so far back into my head that it induced a nose bleed and I subsequently passed out.  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 23, 2017

lexus-parking-airport,Image: CBC News

We’re all familiar with the concept of executive parking spaces, and surely most of us know someone with a sign hanging in their garage that reads “Mopar Parking Only.” Both are annoying concepts highlighting one person’s perceived superiority over another but without any real consequences. After all, it’s not as if they’re stealing someone else’s space.

Thinking it might be a good idea to combine these two scenarios as part of a marketing ploy, Lexus teamed up with the Calgary Airport Authority to convert five primo parking spots into branded spaces. However, the locations they ended up replacing were designed for handicapped patrons. While that understandably didn’t go over well with travelers, you have to admit there is a certain level of prestige associated with displacing people who actually need something just because you want it for yourself.  Read More >

By on July 30, 2015

2015_Ford_F-150_Pickup_Truck

Automotive News is reporting the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety will rate versions of Ford’s F-150 pickup with dramatically different safety ratings after re-testing versions of the pickup, which is a highly unusual move for the safety nonprofit.

The SuperCrew cab version of the F-150 earned the highest marks from the IIHS in its small overlap crash test, earning a Top Safety Pick rating. The re-tested SuperCab registers only a “marginal” rating in the same crash.

The difference, according to Automotive News, are tubular frames called “wheel blockers” installed on the SuperCrew, but missing from the SuperCab and Regular Cab models.

Read More >

By on May 8, 2015

pcarskotaku

Project CARS is probably the most hotly-anticipated automobile-related video game to “drop” in the past few years. It’s ridden a positively Kanagawan wave of media hype and compensated “viral” marketing to its release – but at least one well-informed source is saying that this new emperor is decidedly trouserless.

Read More >

By on August 11, 2014

2014 Chevrolet Silverado HD 2500 long box

The next time you visit a Chevrolet or GMC showroom to check out a full-size or mid-size pickup, you may find the truck’s curb weight to be heavier than once advertised. That’s because General Motors has decided it will no longer remove items to make payload.

Read More >

By on May 12, 2014

pumping gas

As fuel economy figures from the Environmental Protection Agency have been put under the gun for being heavily inaccurate in a few cases, a third-party testing company is offering the public real-world mileage numbers for comparison.

Read More >

By on May 2, 2014

FordCMaxHybridAdCap-626x338

The Federal Trade Commission voted 4-0 Thursday to resume its review of fuel economy claims in advertising by automakers and dealers, and whether or not the agency should revise the 40-year-old guidelines governing them.

Read More >

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