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 June 29, 2020

ford

On the same day that it encouraged fans to follow it on Instagram for sexy Bronco teasing, Ford Motor Company announced it will pull advertising from all social media platforms for a period of 30 days.

As you read here roughly nine minutes ago, Ford’s move comes after Honda did exactly the same. The automakers, among a number of other companies, aim to pressure big social media companies to root out and erase or ban hate speech — which can be a very nebulous term, depending on who’s using it. (Read More…)

By on June 29, 2020

American Honda has joined a cadre of sizable brands opting to pause advertising on Facebook and Instagram in order to “stand with with people united against hate and racism.” It’s part of a broader campaign, called #StopHateforProfit, in which activists push brands to boycott social media giants until they enact stricter regulations about what constitutes actionable language that should be censored/penalized.

Over the last few days, we’ve seen numerous companies adopt the increasingly popular campaign, yet the reasons for doing so seem as varied as their individual terms and conditions. Multinational consumer goods company Unilever said it will scrap all social media advertising for the remainder of 2020 in the United States. While most attribute this primarily to hate-speech concerns, the company also noted that the contentious political climate on those platforms (including Twitter) having become undesirable for its own advertising purposes. Coca-Cola is similarly pausing social media spending for a few weeks, it’s made it clear that it’s not joining the official boycott, despite claims to the contrary in the news.

While Honda’s involvement in the movement is a little easier to follow, there are still a few twist and turns. (Read More…)

By on May 29, 2020

Tesla shareholders are scheduled to vote in July on whether or not the brand should start advertising product like every other automaker on the planet. It’s something the board and CEO Elon Musk have long resisted, and not without good reason. As a car brand, Tesla probably enjoys more free publicity than anyone else.

Musk has effectively mastered social media. He knows what buttons to press to earn more attention, and his one-man campaign has helped the company get where it is today more than the slickest ad copy could have hoped to.

Tesla also managed to spin this into a strength against would-be critics. Anytime someone laughs at the brand for not spending on traditional marketing, its acolytes point to the Musk talking point that cash is better used for development — a claim that holds some real weight, thanks to the brand having some of the most desirable electric vehicles on the market. But Tesla’s mystique won’t last forever, and it won’t be able to count on Elon Musk’s upper echelon Twitter game indefinitely.   (Read More…)

By on May 20, 2020

Sometimes a commercial runs afoul of government overseers for reasons only an uptight, power-hungry bureaucrat could understand. Recall the UK giving Ford a hard time for suggesting its Mustang could go fast — perhaps even being capable of exceeding the speed limit. Worse yet, Ford implied that a driver might like it.

Over in Germany, an Instagram ad for the new Mk8 Golf took things in a more unsettling direction. We’re courting controversy ourselves just mentioning the incident, knowing that very concerned parties monitor our material regularly for the purpose of expressing online outrage over imagined word crimes. However, this occurrence is real, and it’s clearly something Volkswagen wishes had never happened. (Read More…)

By on April 20, 2020

Did Ford rip off someone else’s playlist? The answer to this question will emerge from a courtroom, now that the owner of a vast digital music catalog has filed a lawsuit against the automaker.

The copyright infringement suit, filed late last week, accuses Ford of improperly using 54 songs in its marketing materials over the span of several years. (Read More…)

By on April 10, 2020

With no reason to risk going outside and industrial news at an all-time low, I’ve retreated into curiously dry hobbies as a way to maintain my sanity.

A substantial portion of my time has been devoted to parsing through old automotive catalogs and marketing materials. As someone who is notoriously difficult to shop for, dusty paperbacks that can easily be found for a nickel at any estate sale turned out to be ideal gifts… and I amassed a sizable collection. Over the weekend, I found myself going through vintage television spots — noticing they’re quite a bit different from the ads we encounter today.

While automotive marketing has evolved through the ages, there was a long stretch of time where companies basically just filmed a car driving around as a disembodied voice explained its strengths. This was back when advertisements featured voice-overs telling you that “Quality is Job 1” at Ford, or a choir of voices joyfully acknowledging that they absolutely loved what Toyota was doing for them.

Today, I’m celebrating the 30th anniversary of a totally mundane promotion from 1990 called “National Cadillac Week.” While the free AVIS rental and cash back on your purchase weren’t unusual (then or now), I happened to encounter it exactly three decades after it originally aired — as if destined by fate. It was a glaring reminder of how much car ads have changed in that time period. (Read More…)

By on February 20, 2020

JLR/YouTube

Automakers go to great pains to show off their vehicles in the best possible light. Via the deft touch of their respective marketing teams, ordinary machines suddenly grow the ability to do the impossible: getting the hopelessly nerdy guy his dream girl, soothing inconsolable babies, and performing feats of strength that would leave even Frank aghast.

In official pictures and film, the worst fate to befall a vehicle is normally an artistic splattering of mud around the wheel wells. Perfection is always a car wash away.

Not so in the “ad” just released by Jaguar Land Rover, which piggybacks on the exploits of a filmmaking team and gives them all the marketing support they ask for in return. Despite JLR using a Bond movie to its benefit, it’s good to see a vehicle being put to its full potential in a commercial — and sustaining damage in the process. It harkens back to those old Volvo ads of yore, in which abuse factors heavily. (Read More…)

By on February 6, 2020

The man behind a Chevrolet ad campaign that spawned a particularly hilarious, long-running spoof almost from day one has left the company, Automotive News reports.

Chevrolet ad chief Paul Edwards took a walk Thursday, with General Motors replacing the brand’s U.S. marketing VP with Steve Majoros, currently the bowtie’s director of cars and crossovers marketing. (Read More…)

By on February 3, 2020

Yesterday was, in addition to being an excellent palindrome, a pretty big day for sports. With untold million being thrown around by companies vying for attentive eyeballs, our own Chris Tonn offered a roundup of the various and sundry Super Bowl cars ads, leaving us with one questions: what was your fave?

(Read More…)

By on February 2, 2020

It’s that day – Super Bowl Commercial Sunday!

I’ll be sharing the automotive commercials as they appear during the game. Keep refreshing this post so you can stay up-to-date.

(Read More…)

By on January 31, 2020

Time to celebrate America, undiagnosed head trauma, and the greatest marketing teams in all the land on Sunday night with the fifty-fourth chapter of The Big Game.

It’s an excuse to eat and drink to excess — but many people don’t need an excuse. More, it’s the one time per year where most people won’t be waiting for commercial breaks to get up and pee, since the commercials are often the best part of the night.

As I have no rooting interest in the game — I’m from Ohio, which means the only truly professional team here isn’t eligible since it plays in the NCAA, and my Wisconsin roots are disappointed in the Packers — you know I’ll be hitting pause on the DVR to re-watch the greatest short films trying to sell me something. And I’ll have my laptop at the ready, posting new commercials as they appear.

(Read More…)

By on January 20, 2020

With General Motors razzing Ford back in 2015 for optioning an aluminum truck bed to save weight, thus improving fuel economy, it couldn’t pull off a similar move without a sea of mouths wailing warnings of hypocrisy. GM has been playing catch-up with the Blue Oval’s full-size pickup since forever, always framing the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado as the more robust choice. The company even launched an advertising campaign to prove its steel truck bed was the tougher option.

When the General’s full-sized trucks underwent a weight-loss program of their own, it was decided anything that opened or closed should be aluminum while the bed absolutely had to stay high-strength steel. Otherwise, it would be guilty of the same mistakes it accused Ford of. Despite throwing shade at Ford’s claimed lack of sturdiness for over a decade, the aluminum-sucks angle has been reeled back immensely over the last couple of years. GM even attempted to wipe all evidence of a comparative rock-drop test from the internet, possibly because it’s finally decided to embrace aluminum itself.

However, there’s already an alternative to the high-strength steel GM currently offers — the CarbonPro bed available on the GMC Sierra Denali and AT4 — and the manufacturer has prepared another stunt show to test its mettle.  (Read More…)

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