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 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 1, 2018

kia stinger super bowl ad

While the staff at The Truth About Cars doesn’t decide a vehicle’s worth based on the advertising it’s associated with, we sometimes critique the choices automakers make within the marketing spectrum. Whether it’s Volkswagen’s subtle attempt to convince prospective shoppers to procreate or Aston Martin’s decision to use Tom Brady as its spokesmodel, we’ve got something to say.

Kia recently finished a TV ad, intended to debut during Super Bowl LII, where Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler hops into Stinger GT and literally turns back time. The spot begins with Tyler donning a racing suit in a trailer that includes a photo of himself (for some reason) before walking out to an abandoned oval track. Waiting for him is aged Formula One champion Emerson Fittipaldi and two Kia Stinger GTs. (Read More…)

By on October 2, 2017

2018 Subaru Legacy SUS commercial Canada - Image: Subaru Canada YouTubeWhat does an automaker do after the company’s three-year-old midsize sedan — the only midsize sedan with standard all-wheel drive — is slightly upgraded for 2018?

It initiates a new marketing campaign. And what must that marketing campaign entail when the car is chronically unpopular and suffering from sharp sales declines in a shrinking category? It must utilize a catchy, attention-grabbing slogan.

Thus, for 2018, Subaru gives us the rebirth of a tagline: sport utility sedan.

Only this time, unlike 1998, the Legacy SUS isn’t lifted, it doesn’t wear two-tone cladding, its tires’ lettering won’t be emboldened by white font. The 2018 Subaru Legacy Sport Utility Sedan is just a Legacy. (Read More…)

By on July 11, 2017

GM Real People Not Actors Silverado ad screenshot - Image: Chevrolet YouTubeWith the July 10 launch of a new Chevrolet Silverado commercial, General Motors is once again using its Real People, Not Actors campaign in an attempt to tarnish the Ford F-150’s good name.

This methodology doesn’t appear to have had an impact in the marketplace in the past. Yet two years after General Motors displayed conversations between Howie Long and GM engineer Eric Stanczak discussing repair costs on the Ford F-150’s aluminum bed and one year after Chevrolet punctured a Ford F-150’s aluminum bed with 825 pounds of concrete blocks, General Motors is turning to admitted Ford F-150 owners as a means of casting aspersions on America’s top-selling full-size truck.

After earlier rounds, Ford gained ground in America’s full-size pickup truck market in 2016. Indeed, Ford is continuing to gain ground in that same market in 2017. Ford is selling more trucks than its rivals. Ford is selling more trucks with less incentivization. Ford is selling more trucks with less incentivization at higher average transaction prices.

So, GM sends the Chevrolet Silverado back to the same ol’ well. (Read More…)

By on June 16, 2017

2017 Honda Keep The Peace Odyssey Commercial screenshot - Image: Honda YouTubeThey’re monsters, fighting over a squeezable toy bus before the journey has even begun. They’re inattentive rascals, wearing headphones and tuning out their parents before Mom is even in the van. They’re instigators and agitators, wholly dependent upon parents to keep the peace.

Or are they? Are children really so bad that Honda’s very first marketing campaign for the fifth-generation 2018 Odyssey has to present a negative slant on the life of a parent?

Maybe not. But in an age in which conflict is fostered during live news coverage all day long, in which children are perpetually entertained so they don’t need to entertain themselves, in which there’s not enough time before Zoey’s pottery class and Aiden’s play date to source a conventional resolution, Honda’s Magic Slide seats produce a brilliantly eye-catching commercial, with a little help from animation.

Of course, my kids would never tussle like this. (Read More…)

By on June 12, 2017

2017 Lexus IS commercial screenshotWe’ve got more than a few years of driving remaining, don’t you think?

It’s 2017. People still grasp steering wheels, still prod throttle pedals, still check blind spots (sometimes), still use their left hand to flick a signal stalk, and still stop for red lights by firmly pressing a right foot against a brake pedal. Last I checked, in my driveway sits a two-seat convertible with a six-speed manual transmission.

But in a 30-second spot that aired repeatedly during the final game of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Hockey Night In Canada, Lexus strikes fear into the soul of drivers everywhere in order to get you into a 2017 Lexus IS today. Today, before they — whoever “they” are — come for your manual transmissions and your steering wheels and your pedals. Before your driver’s car is replaced by an autonomous pod.

“Enjoy the thrill of driving,” Lexus says. “While you still can.” (Read More…)

By on April 19, 2017

BMW CPO commercial Toyota Camry screenshot - Image: YouTube screenshot

Call them frenemies. BMW and Toyota are working together on a high-profile sports car project that will result in a long-awaited Supra successor and a replacement for the Z4. Two heads are better than one.

“The concept works, the platform can deliver and now we have two proud sets of engineers — one group German, one group Japanese — who are each fighting and arguing for the car they want,” BMW sales boss Ian Robertson said last year.

The fighting and arguing extends beyond the R&D facilities in Munich and Toyota City.

On a mission to exalt its 3 Series in a certified pre-owned commercial, BMW sought to make fun of a typically bland midsize sedan. 2001 Chevrolet Malibu? 2006 Kia Optima? 2017 Subaru Legacy?

No. BMW chose the most basic, beige, new Toyota Camry to make a point on behalf of a bright red pre-owned 3 Series.

Hardly the work of a BFF. (Read More…)

By on February 6, 2017

Television Set

The “Big Game” is as much of a sporting event and as it is a tactical delivery system for advertisements and, at roughly $5 million just to reserve a thirty second slot, the folks working in the media department want their commercials to have a strategic impact. Reaching your intended audience is only half the battle. You must also provoke them into action.

While there were plenty of Super Bowl 51 car commercials that got under people’s skin, those strong feelings often failed to morph into consumer interest. For example, Ford’s mobility-focused spot featuring Nina Simone’s classic civil rights song I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free was all over social media when it aired right after kickoff. However, nobody sent me a surprised and excited text about Ford like they did for Alfa Romeo.  (Read More…)

By on November 27, 2016

dealership

Have you ever wondered why the model year and actual calendar year of production vehicles rarely coincide? Do you ever notice American-made cars have a tendency to come out almost comically early? Have you ever wondered why?

The answer is as uniquely American as the question itself, revolving around agriculture, consumer culture, and television.

(Read More…)

By on November 15, 2016

Dodge Journey Canada screenshot - FCA Canada websiteIt was early 2014 when an Albertan car salesman drew my attention to a claim he noticed in commercials and promotional material from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Canada. The Dodge Journey, they said, was Canada’s No. 1 selling crossover.

It wasn’t. But at the time, FCA was using some hilariously inappropriate segmentation from R.L. Polk Canada, Inc. to support the claim.

FCA Canada’s more recent Journey-related claim uses altered language to make a similar-sounding statement. FCA calls the Journey, “Canada’s favourite crossover.”

The Dodge Journey is not Canada’s favourite crossover. The Dodge Journey never was Canada’s favourite crossover. Based on current trend lines, the Dodge Journey does not stand a chance of soon becoming Canada’s favourite crossover. (Read More…)

By on June 21, 2016

2016 Dacia Duster Commercial “Another one bites the dust.” Queen, 1980.
“Another one drives the Duster.” Dacia, 2016.

As the elites gaze at yet another Dacia Duster drive by, they adopt the 36-year-old words of Queen. Sort of.

“Another one drives the Duster,” Dacia’s latest ad repeatedly says.

“Relax, you can drive one too,” the commercial ends. And if you live in one of Dacia’s mostly European markets, you surely can. The Dacia is priced from only £9,495 in the United Kingdom, less than half the price of Nissan UK’s Rogue twin, the X-Trail. (Read More…)

By on March 4, 2016

Ford of Denmark ad screenshot

Nothing says “Buy a Ford!” like unhappy kids and a failed marriage, apparently.

Ford Motor Company is making waves in advertising circles — and confusing everyone else — after creating a car commercial in the form of a 16-minute short film that centers around the breakup, and sort-of reunification of an average Danish family.

(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 February 1, 2013

Back in my college days, it seemed like every single Chrysler commercial featured a car that would morph from the old model into the new model.

Minivan morph. Neon morph. Intrepid morph. The technological transitions were quite well done, and I always enjoyed a commercial that reminded me of the movie “Terminator 2.”

But then I had a few ideas of my own…

(Read More…)

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