By on November 5, 2019

Two weeks from its global debut, there’s still no confirmation of the name adorning Ford’s upcoming “Mustang-inspired” EV, though we’ve been calling it Mach E for some time. Prove us wrong. What is known at this time is what actor will be alongside it for part of its journey: Idris Elba, former star of The Wire, though perhaps even more famous for a character he hasn’t played (James Bond).

Ford’s no stranger to tapping Hollywood to hawk its products, with the automaker recently choosing Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston after spending years using a comic/actor whose early-90s stand-up routines taught everyone the dangers of wearing a leather jacket in a warm indoor space. Elba seems to be on the hook for more than just promotion, however. The fashionable actor/singer/etc once worked in a Ford plant, so you know there’s going to be an autobiographical angle. (Read More…)

By on October 18, 2019

Mazda/YouTube

The Mazda MX-5 remains of the purest and most affordable sports cars on the market, and we’re glad it exists. While the plucky roadster might not be the optimal solution for family hauling, a certain ND example did get yours truly and a former managing editor from Toronto to Detroit in January, lugging not just our lanky asses, but two suitcases and camera bags each, plus a 24 of pale ale.

January’s not the happiest time of year in that neck of the woods, but the only climate anomaly that MX-5 had to deal with was a torrential downpour on the way home. Temperatures hovered just above freezing. We were fine.

It’s understandable why many cars go under wraps for the winter, taking on the role of garage queens until flowers start poking up through the soil, but it’s odd to see an automaker imply that a model must be put away. Can’t it take the heat — er, cold? (Read More…)

By on October 14, 2019

There are plenty of ways to get free gasoline. Unfortunately, most require you to become uncomfortably intimate with advertising to reap any rewards. Converting your vehicle into a mobile billboard for a brand is a good way to convince said brand to foot your monthly gas bill. But you can also sit through hours of digital surveys or ads to encourage companies to part with fuel cards. Either way, it’s free go juice — with a catch.

Volta Industries is attempting to duplicate this model for EV charging, without the need for middle men. The company will allot a certain amount of electric charge time to customers willing to interact with “embedded advertisements” occupying high-end retail zones. While the company has promoted this business model for several years, it only entered our peripheral vision in recent months after securing investments and solidifying its plans.

Despite the phrase “if you’re getting something for free, you are the product” being around since at least the 1970s, it’s infinitely applicable here.  (Read More…)

By on September 23, 2019

Image: BMW/Twitter

Volkswagen made waves and offended Corey’s sensibilities when it released an ad, a while back, that used sex to sell its line of family-friendly vehicles. Not implicit, come-hither-looks-from-passing-girls kinda sex, but full-on, here’s-people-doing-it kinda sex. Seemed a little rude.

Well, the Germans are at it again.

This time, it’s BMW and an online ad that uses raw, steamy passion and a concept-car-turned-bordello to sell its vision of an electric, autonomous future. A future that, until now, has boasted very little sex appeal. Like, zero sex appeal. (Read More…)

By on September 13, 2019

Ads for the 2020 Lincoln Aviator are scheduled to drop this Saturday, but those of us with internet access got to see them a day early. Lincoln’s “Fresh Take” campaign is a bit of a misnomer, however, because the person who’s chiming in on the new model is Matthew McConaughey.

Ford has used the Oscar-winning actor to showcase its premium products for years now, and this writer is not ashamed to say that he’s grown to love them. While not particularly substantive, they’re difficult to look away from. McConaughey muses about the vehicle in a calm, dreamlike haze. Occasionally looking into the rearview mirror before casually reapplying his attention to the always clear road ahead, he’s presumably talking to himself — but it’s really for our benefit.

And that’s why I’m so fond of them. In my mind, McConaughey is a polished lunatic — not quite a Patrick Bateman, but definitely unhinged. And it translates into comedy gold. Yet another viewer might see the ad and think, “Boy he’s handsome and calm — it’s like nothing is ever going to go wrong inside that car.” (Read More…)

By on August 23, 2019

Image: Volkswagen 2017 e-Golf VW

It’s become something of a fascination for this writer: scrutinizing the latest car commercial to earn the wrath of Britain’s all-seeing Advertising Standards Authority — an ominous and monolithic-sounding name if there ever was one.

One assumes there’s a moisture-stained, Brutalist-style concrete structure dedicated to preserving the sensibilities of UK viewing audiences somewhere in the greater London area. Bureaucrats and other pencil-pushers file in after abandoning their Austin Allegras and Morris Marinas in a rain-soaked parking lot, umbrellas in hand.

Having said that, let’s move on to the latest car company to run afoul of the UK ad cops: Volkswagen. (Read More…)

By on August 19, 2019

2018 Subaru Crosstrek: Image: Subaru

Spend a few minutes talking to a normal, regular person, and they’ll probably reveal very little knowledge of a vehicle’s mechanics or specs while boasting plenty of knowledge of a brand’s (or vehicle’s) marketing efforts and media coverage.

The general consensus, at least according to your author’s mother, is that dogs help sell cars. Full stop. At the very least, they sprinkle a helping of feel-good fairy dust over a brand, leaving a positive impression of the company in the minds of viewers. Audience manipulation is the sole purpose of advertising.

As Subaru walks away from its most recent sales month with yet another healthy volume increase, however, one model seems to have run out of momentum. It remains to be seen if a heaping helping of dogs can turn it around. (Read More…)

By on August 15, 2019

Image: VW

One hopes, anyway. While marketing won’t save you from a roadside breakdown (it might, in a roundabout way, get you into that situation), it nonetheless exists on the periphery of the automotive realm, subtly impacting sales. If a campaign is successful, the impact might be more than subtle. If it’s bad, the automaker is suddenly open to jokes and criticism.

Then the PR types in the comms department go to work.

One company that’s seen plenty of action in both departments in the recent past is Volkswagen. If you’re unfamiliar with this obscure German brand, you may remember it as the company selling “clean diesel” cars with fantastic fuel economy a number of years back. With that scandal now fading in the rear-view, the effort to rebrand the company as a receptive steward of the earth is well underway. And the man who’ll lead that charge in America is Saad Chehab, former communications dude for Kia Motors America. (Read More…)

By on June 5, 2019

Corporate missteps requiring an apology — an increasingly common phenomenon in our current outraged era — usually follow a well-worn path. The CEO will issue a statement to the media and public apologizing for dastardly malfeasance and skullduggery (or offending a Twitter user), following it up with a statement posted to the company’s webpage and social media accounts. There will be appeals for forgiveness, perhaps tearful ones, at tense shareholder meetings — especially if the company is Japanese.

Following that, a burst of newfound goodwill appears to repair a tarnished brand.

But what if serious misdeeds, even those resulting in arrests and billions of dollars in fines, could be used to market a new product? Volkswagen went there. (Read More…)

By on February 25, 2019

For a brand that probably once caught the eye of Woodrow Wilson, there’s a late adolescent feeling to Cadillac’s current existence that belies its century-long history. Having run away from mom and dad to find itself among the towers of Manhattan, General Motors’ luxury division is heading home for a rest — newly matured, a new mentor in tow, and packing a couple of extra crossovers.

Completing the makeover, Cadillac tossed its “Dare Greatly” tagline in the trash, debuting new messaging during its Oscar night ad campaign. But does the new campaign “Rise Above” the criticisms flung at its predecessor? (Read More…)

By on February 4, 2019

Image: Unifor/YouTube

There’s no love lost between General Motors and Canadian Detroit Three autoworkers union Unifor. The former plans to shutter the historic Oshawa Assembly plant in Ontario this year, the latter would prefer it didn’t. It would also prefer some product to build there.

Amid the turmoil surrounding GM’s wide-ranging cost-cutting efforts, Unifor released a commercial Sunday slamming GM for abandoning both its workforce and consumers. The title of the ad? “GM leaves Canadians Out In the Cold.”

GM’s message to Unifor? Cool it. (Read More…)

By on February 3, 2019

Wipe that wing sauce and queso off of your chin. And put a coaster under that beer! It’s time for the Super Bowl – and, for those of you without any rooting interest whatsoever in either team, it’s time for Super Bowl commercials!

(Read More…)

By on February 1, 2019

It’s time for that great celebration of Americana — the fifty-third Super Bowl. Sunday night, Patriots fans and Patriots haters will come together to watch the season’s championship game, against… a team from Los Angeles? Am I reading that right?

For the rest of us, the Super Bowl is basically a better Thanksgiving. Gorging oneself is expected, of course, but there are fewer awkward conversations with the great-grandmother or that weird racist uncle. And we get to watch TV.

Yeah, for me, the commercials are the best part. It’s an opportunity to celebrate excellence in short-form storytelling — while selling something. Like each of the last several years, I’ll be watching the game with my laptop in my, well, lap, updating a post every time a new car commercial appears. However, many of those commercials have already been teased or released outright prior to the game, and that’s where this preview comes in.

(Read More…)

By on January 29, 2019

Maybe that headline’s too harsh, but have you seen a recent Cadillac commercial? If nothing comes to mind, that merely illustrates the brand’s problem. The bulk of its marketing efforts are, in this writer’s opinion, boring, forgettable, and uninspired. Just showing that a crossover can drive sedately down a dry, urban street isn’t enough to get audiences jazzed over a purchase. A Trabant can drive down a street and, yes, people can be merry and youthful inside it. (Odds are against it, but it could happen.)

Scroll down to see one of the brand’s latest, this one for its new XT4 compact. You won’t thank me.

Let’s face it — most of Cadillac’s ads could cure sleep apnea, leaving sufferers refreshed and alert the next morning. It was against this grim marketing backdrop that, while viewing a news spot from last night’s Great Lakes region snowstorm, I watched a random driver create the best ad Cadillac never paid for. (Read More…)

By on November 7, 2018

2018 Nissan LEAF SL

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), like the fictional “phone cops” of WKRP fame, seem to be everywhere in that country, keeping tabs on everyone’s every move. As we told you last month, in the UK, commercials are not even allowed to show frustrated office workers getting behind the wheel of a Ford Mustang, even if they’re shown driving sedately once the car leaves the garage. Dangerous influences lurk everywhere.

Britain’s ad cops are at it again, only this time there’s some meat on the bones of the complaint. Automakers often play fast and loose when it comes to describing the capabilities of autonomous vehicle functions, but electric vehicles are another area fraught with potential misleading info. Throw pricing and fuel economy into that group, too. Nissan recently ran afoul of ASA watchdogs after one of its ads suggested owners could partly recharge their vehicles in a hurry. Of course, this is technically a true statement.

What resulted was essentially a battle over the word “could.” (Read More…)

Recent Comments

  • SCE to AUX: “…the I-Pace seems to hold a range advantage over fresh-faced German rivals competing in the...
  • EGSE: Fourteen years in a Sebring? Damn dude, what did you do? A guy in my old neighborhood got less time for murder...
  • SCE to AUX: ^^ This is good advice.
  • ToddAtlasF1: I saw my first 2019 Ram 1500 Rebel at Umansky Honda-CDJR in Charlottesville. I thought it was a...
  • ponchoman49: In contrast today we have the following issues some of which are a real pain Complexity- sensors...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States