Tag: Marketing

By on May 6, 2019

2019 Chevrolet Volt rear

February 15th was a sad day, even for those who hate cars. On that day, General Motors’ Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant produced the last Chevrolet Volt — a green car born at the dawn of a new era that didn’t take off exactly as envisioned.

In the truck-loving land of (relatively) cheap gasoline, electric vehicles are only just now eating up more than 1 percent of the market, thanks mainly to the Tesla Model 3 and what ownership of said vehicle says about your lifestyle and viewpoints. Plug-in hybrids are struggling, however, and the most famous of them all is now dead. A victim of falling sales, though your author would be curious to learn the model’s margin.

Despite offering the most practical combination of conventional gas-powered driving and electric ability, many claim the Volt’s failure was one of marketing, not engineering. (Read More…)

By on May 3, 2019

We know, we know — you’re torn on the answer to this age-old question. Well, Toyota thinks its 2020 Corolla sedan, which adopts the platform and powertrain changes seen on the 2019 hatch, is hot, sizzling stuff. And you will, too, it seems.

So much so, you’re liable to engage in a lewd public act, possibly encouraging a visit from the cops. (Read More…)

By on April 24, 2019

They used to be commonplace, but the last decade or so has seen this automotive phenomenon fade from memory. Today we talk special branded editions, and how it’s time for them to make a comeback.

(Read More…)

By on April 19, 2019

Ford celebrated its iconic sports coupe’s 55th birthday at the New York International Auto Show this week by proclaiming Wednesday as “Mustang Day.” But Mustang Day was overshadowed by other nostalgic celebrations taking place at the New York Auto Show, specifically Nissan’s 50th Anniversary Editions of the GT-R (which looked excellent) and 370Z (which one of our anal-retentive staffers criticized over technical inaccuracies). The Japanese manufacturer even had a multi-tiered display and brought in historic models, countering the building apathy many automakers seem to have developed for giant trade shows.

Despite Nissan winning the battle for eyes in New York, Ford still appears to have won the day — at least from its own perspective. Following the NY debut of the Mustang’s 2.3-liter High Performance Package, which brings up the base auto’s peak output to 330 horsepower just for starters, the company proudly announced that its pony car has remained the world’s top-selling sports coupe over the last four years.  (Read More…)

By on April 1, 2019

Image: GM

You can see Canada from the top of Detroit’s Comerica Park, but the warm, low-labor-cost lands south of the Rio Grande lie far below the horizon. It’s not surprising that, as workers at a General Motors plant sitting just 3.5 miles from Comerica prepare for possible closure and job loss, GM’s decision to prominently feature a new Mexican-built vehicle at the stadium ruffled feathers on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border.

On Saturday, the controversial newcomer was quietly whisked away. (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 8, 2019

Corey LaJoie might not have the most impressive stock car record in motorsport, but he will have the most recognizable car at Daytona 500 later this month. Go Fas Racing, along with its sponsors, have decided that the best livery for the No. 32 Old Spice car is a giant stretched version of its driver’s head. The end result makes those reoccurring dreams about your teeth falling out seem positively tranquil by comparison.

The team documented the process of wrapping the Ford Mustang they’ll be running in the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series over the last couple of days. LaJoie’s face resides on the hood and bumper, with the teeth cut out to make an opening for the grille.

While we can’t say whether the new visuals will provide much of an edge on the racetrack, it’s difficult to imagine something scarier coming up behind you in the rearview mirror. Still, we doubt intimidation was on anyone’s mind when they dreamed this monstrosity up.  (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 30, 2019

Volvo is taking a very unique approach to its advertising for the Super Bowl this year. Rather than simply have the network air its commercials during the breaks, it has decided to compete with the game directly for viewership.

Called “The Longest Drive,” the automaker’s smartphone game is reminiscent of dealer and radio contests where people have to keep their hands on the car to win it. The difference here is that Volvo is concerned with your eyes. Participants will compete to log the most amount of time looking at stock footage of the Volvo S60 in the hopes of claiming one as a prize.

Mercedes-Benz tried something similar last year with its digitized “Last Fan Standing” competition. In that contest, people were asked to keep their finger on a Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe as the company monitored their cell phone, waiting for them to make a mistake. Unfortunately, mistakes were made long before the contest began.  (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 January 28, 2019

lincoln navigator grille badge lincoln logo

Last year, Ford announced its intent to develop a rewards program aimed at keeping customers engaged — while also making it worth their while to stick with the brand for their next purchase. While customer rewards are old hat, regardless of industry, automakers are busy devising new ways of using the venerable marketing theory to improve customer retention. It’s an urgent gambit, given today’s cooling market.

General Motors launched its “My GM Rewards” loyalty program in 2018, using a points-based system to reward customers who use OnStar’s new services, purchase a new vehicle, or service an older one. Those points can then be redeemed, knocking some cash off a subsequent GM purchase. Meanwhile, Honda previewed “Dream Drive” at the recent Consumer Electronics Show — a concept with its own redeemable points system (one that incorporates some potentially unsettling gamification within the app).

While Ford’s FordPass-based efforts appeared similar, it wasn’t until this month’s North American Dealers Association (NADA) meeting that the automaker was willing to flesh it out.  (Read More…)

By on December 12, 2018

Imagine you’re an American auto executive in the 1980s, looking on in desperation as all the youthful and wealthy customers head almost solely to BMW showrooms for their sports-oriented sedans and coupes.

Now imagine you work at Ford, and you’ve decided to do something about it. By the way, you’re Bob Lutz right now.

It’s Merkur time.

(Read More…)

By on December 3, 2018

2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid engine close-up

Despite long, grinding years of adulthood, the word “synergy” still reminds this author of the character on the excruciatingly 1980s cartoon Jem and the Holograms, which his older sister would commandeer the TV set for on various mornings. To Toyota, the word is the centerpiece of Hybrid Synergy Drive — the name applied to its hybrid drivetrains since the dawn of the gas-electric era.

Times change and, just as hoop earrings are no longer rad, the word “hybrid” has evolved to mean any one of a confusingly long list of gas-electric propulsion systems. Studies show that a great many consumers are still mystified about hybrids.

Hybrid Synergy Drive needs a makeover. (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…)

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