By on July 20, 2020

When I was a young lad, I had a box set of the goofball quiz show You Bet Your Life. Hosted by deceased comedy legend Groucho Marx, the program aired on both television and radio just as they were beginning to swap roles in terms of market dominance in the mid-20th century.

After ribbing guests, Marx would pause to acknowledge the sponsor. More often than not, they were Chrysler products — especially the now defunct DeSoto brand. While I had no idea if Groucho actually cared about the cars beyond the paycheck they offered, something about the format of having someone you actually liked pushing the product stuck with me. I’ve been a fan of DeSoto for years, despite having been born decades after it stopped existing as a brand.

It seems things might be coming full circle. With television now losing prominence to the internet, advertisers, in search of new avenues for income, and have stopped at podcasts. A recent Nielsen study estimated that roughly half of would-be vehicle shoppers visited a website for more information if they heard about it via an audio-focused medium with a strong personality behind it.  (Read More…)

By on July 6, 2020

Ford/YouTube

A 1970 Dodge ad campaign once said of the viewer, “If you can cope with a whole new image, you could be Dodge material.” Well, today — a week out from what this writer has dubbed B-Day — Ford is appealing to those wild at heart to leave their old lifestyles, and the pavement, in the past.

Are you Built Wild? (Read More…)

By on July 2, 2020

Ford’s not calling it that, but the marketing push surrounding the debut of the new-generation Bronco on July 13th is looking a lot like a joke your author has tossed about the past few weeks.

The sheer amount of prime-time programming space purchased on the Disney Media Network’s ABC, ESPN, and National Geographic channels — as well as spots on streaming service Hulu — calls to mind the ill-fated experiment of “E-Day.”

Heralding an automotive invasion that was quickly repelled and thrown back into the sea, E-Day reached viewers on September 4th, 1957. (Read More…)

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 March 4, 2019

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe RST

There are occasions when human beings need a bit of time to get used to something, such as when your teenager suddenly dyes their hair purple or you are suddenly forced to buy new work boots because your old ones have completely collapsed. I have experienced 50 percent of these examples in the past week and will leave it to your speculation as to which one it is.

Something else your author needs time to assimilate? New car names slapped on machines introduced to replace an outgoing model. It’s the automotive equivalent of daytime soaps suddenly hiring a new actor to play the same character. It’s jarring.

Here’s today’s question: should OEMs introduce new names with their new cars? Or should they hang on to the tried-and-true? As you’d expect, I have a couple of opinions.

(Read More…)

By on March 15, 2018

Lexus sales slipped in the United States over the last two years. While overall deliveries remain relatively strong, the Japanese luxury brand saw its annual volume surpassed by Mercedes-Benz in 2013. BMW followed suit in 2017 and the gap only looks to be widening this year. So, what does a high-end nameplate do to lure back customers?

The answer is an obvious one: it starts building boats. It might shock you to learn this, but boats have actually been around since prehistoric times and physical examples have been discovered that are at least 10,000 years old. Meanwhile, most cars aren’t even 100 years old. Basic math proves boats to be the more sustainable product and a sounder investment. Cars had a good run, but autonomous vehicles and ride-sharing services are about to convert driving into a passive and homogeneous experience in a totally hypothetical and undetermined amount of time. Boats will be where it’s at very soon and every automaker will eventually become a sloop manufacturer.

Alright, I’ll stop being a prick (for now). What Lexus is really attempting to do is gussy up its image, endearing itself to the growing legions of super-rich people by providing contemporary yachts — something Mercedes-Benz has done in the past. (Read More…)

By on October 23, 2017

wilt-chamberlain-volkswagen-beetle

Ages ago, we asked about your favorite car-related marketing campaign. Your answers were varied as they were well-thought out – Nissan’s toy 300ZX, Iacocca daring us to find a better car, and VW’s Star Wars ad.

Absent from all of the above? Celebrity endorsements… unless you count Ken & Barbie in the Z ad. This time around, we’re asking you what’s the most memorable car ad (for better or worse) featuring someone straight out of central casting?

(Read More…)

By on December 1, 2016

Mazda Dog

Mazda, which has seen its previously strong sales slip in Israel, feels the brand has developed a bum rap. Its once-exciting cars have become unworthy of praise in the Jewish republic — claims the company finds flagrantly objectionable.

So, rather than take the perceived abuse lying down, the automaker developed the “Prepare to be Amazed” campaign in response. Its essence isn’t that Mazda begs to differ with naysayers, but that the general public is simply wrong in its assumptions.

It’s the advertising equivalent of telling off the school bully while putting on a pair of sunglasses and moonwalking home. (Read More…)

By on December 1, 2016

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor

Pickup trucks are about as stereotypically American as firearms, baseball, Coca-Cola, and landing on the moon. However, General Motors and Ford don’t want us hoarding all that goodness and plan on exporting their piece of the American pie to the East. The Big Two want to place large American trucks in the hands of upscale Chinese buyers and establish the eminence of a vehicle China currently sees as little more than a tool for farming or construction.

Coincidentally, that is exactly how our love affair with the truck began.  (Read More…)

By on October 28, 2016

03_rx-vision-1024x572

Mazda is like that artisan pizza place or a craft brewery your coolest friends all like. They make a familiar product, but there is definitely something different about it. While you can’t always place your finger on it, that unexplainable “x” factor affords them the hint of pretentiousness that comes along with doing things differently.

And like any hip outlet selling quirky artisanal goods, they are likely going to start charging you more for it.

(Read More…)

By on September 13, 2013

1970_Toyota_Corona_Commercial-Picture courtesy of Toyota USASince my first car was a 1969 Toyota Corona sedan, I always look for these cars in junkyards. I toy with the idea of getting another first-gen Corona sedan someday, into which I will swap a 1UZ-FE engine out of a Lexus LS400, so of course I check the internetz for old Corona ads. Here’s a good one! (Read More…)

By on May 16, 2013

TransmissionManOutIt wasn’t that many decades ago that imported cars— any imported cars— were considered fairly exotic. I’ve dredged up memories of some very funny 1980 Aamco ads that deal with that subject, and the internet has obliged by providing those very ads for us! (Read More…)

By on April 18, 2013

I do a lot of traveling (to such exotic places as Kershaw, South Carolina and South Haven, Michigan) in my travels with the 24 Hours of LeMons, which means I have plenty of dead time in airports to contemplate puzzling car ads. The Economist is the best possible magazine to have on hand when you get hit by a six-hour weather delay at George Bush International, because of its incredible bang-for-buck density. It’s clear that marketing flacks take the Economist‘s word for it when they talk about readership demographics, because the split between self-proclaimed readership (powerful and influential globe-trotting executives) and actual readership (geeked-out history/politics junkies with unkempt beards and Dead Kennedys T-shirts) makes for some entertaining car advertisements. Here’s one for the ’13 Lincoln MKZ, which attempts to woo the 72-year-old owner of a 6-store dry-cleaning chain into feeling that the purchase of an MKZ will transform him into a focus-group-perfect 42-year-old entrepreneur. Let’s take a closer look at what Lincoln’s marketers picture as the idealized MKZ buyer. (Read More…)

By on February 20, 2013

Daewoo never had much of a presence in the United States, though I do see the occasional Nubira in the junkyard. That’s too bad, because Korean-market Daewoo ads of the 1970s and 1980s have some of the manliest/cheeziest voiceovers in car-advertising history. Let’s take a look at some examples of the genre. (Read More…)

By on November 9, 2012

The Chrysler New Yorker went through many variations during the television era, from Warsaw Pact-crushing expression of capitalist triumph to Slant-Six-powered Dodge Diplomat sibling to snazzy-looking LH. Along the way, Chrysler’s marketers created a series of TV ads that now tell the Thirty Years of New Yorker story. Let’s check out a sampling of those ads. (Read More…)

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