Tag: Marketing

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 September 6, 2019

General Motors Renaissance Center

General Motors is moving Cadillac marketing chief Deborah Wahl up the food chain by appointing her as its global chief marketing officer — a position which has sat unfilled since 2012.

The previous CMO, Joel Ewanick, was removed by former CEO Dan Akerson over a costly Chevrolet-Manchester United sponsorship deal blew up in his face. Officially, General Motors said Ewanick “failed to meet the expectations the company has of an employee” and left the position vacant, distributing its duties among other other employees — primarily Chevrolet’s now-retired CMO Tim Mahoney.

Wahl, 56, joined Cadillac in 2018, helping the brand further distance itself from the botched “Dare Greatly” advertising campaign. However, we’re not yet certain its freshened marketing materials are truly a cut from a different cloth. Several of the new spots carry over the same vague messaging, just with a bit more focus on product. Then again, perhaps the highbrow content is simply going over our heads.  (Read More…)

By on September 4, 2019

lincoln navigator grille badge lincoln logo

My father has historically been a Ford man. Despite numerous forays into Chevrolet, Chrysler, Volkswagen and Toyota, he has always returned to the Blue Oval when the time came to purchase a keeper. Other nameplates came and went, receiving slightly less attention, but there was always at least one well-maintained Ford in the garage. As a result, I became familiar with dealerships using the suffix “Ford Lincoln Mercury” at a very young age.

For me, it was an opportunity to ogle the fancier sedans my father claimed didn’t make financial sense. “It’s the same car,” he would always say. “This one just costs more.”

When you’re eight and have nothing to distract yourself with other than the swizzle sticks you stole from the coffee area, fatherly advice has a way of sinking in. I’ve often wondered why automakers would even dare place their premium offerings so close to their less-expensive models. But times have changed.  (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 July 25, 2019

Buick Regal Mistaken Identity commercial screenshot - Image: Buick/Youtube

Encore, not Regal. Regal TourX if you please, not the Cascada. No to the LaCrosse, yes to the Enclave. Regal Sportback shunned, Envision approved.

This isn’t an elementary analysis of the pro-crossover/anti-car trends of the marketplace or GM’s China-centric Buick brand. Rather, it’s the message Buick seems to be sending in its own advertising.

Of course, that’s not the official line from Buick PR. But the more you watch the six-month-old “Mistaken Identity” commercial, the more you wonder what Buick must think of its own cars. (Read More…)

By on July 23, 2019

Elon Musk certainly hasn’t been kind towards Ford in the past, talking about how the Dearborn truck plant is like a morgue. It’s a bold move considering his cars are assembled outdoors in a tent, but that hasn’t stopped the Twitter man from tweeting. He even recently claimed the Tesla all-electric pickup truck will be as good as Ford’s truck but also be able to tow 300,000 pounds.

Yes, that’s a totally ridiculous number and there’s no way the truck will tow that much in the real world, under the SAE J2807 standard. That’s assuming, of course, the Tesla pickup even exists. While Musk has long teased the truck, we’ve yet to actually see it in any physical capacity. It’s easy to say (or joke) your truck can tow 300,000 pounds when it doesn’t actually exist.

Ford is also working on an all-electric pickup truck. Today the company released a video of that development process, including the vehicle towing rail cars weighing over 1 million pounds. Not only is that 700,000 pounds more than Tesla’s claim but, since it’s a real truck that really exists, we can actually see it do it.  (Read More…)

By on July 16, 2019

Ford was teasing a new pickup truck on Tuesday. No, it’s not the Bronco-based one we mentioned earlier in the day. This one is small, really small.

According to Ford’s product communications manager, Mike Levine, more details on this in-development vehicle will emerge later this week. But we already know what it is — an emoji.  (Read More…)

By on July 1, 2019

While Mazda’s vehicles are often praised for being handsome and playing host to desirable driving dynamics, the latter half of that arrangement has become less important in recent years. Remember the last time you saw a Zoom-Zoom ad? Neither do we.

That’s because Mazda isn’t the same brand anymore. While some of its budget-minded performance chops remain intact (MX-5), the prevailing shift has been toward luxury — which is kind of a nebulous concept these days. In the most general sense, it means Mazda is pushing for higher-margin vehicles and fancier showrooms. But it’s not a guaranteed strategy for winning… or losing, for that matter.  (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 May 23, 2019

According to a study commissioned by Nissan, Millennials are committed to saving the sedan in an era when crossovers have usurped much of the market. While much of the study revolves around asking people whether they’d consider purchasing a sedan in the future — something any smart shopper would say “yes” to — survey respondents also said there was very little difference in terms of customer satisfaction between crossovers and sedans.

That’s good news for any automaker that launched a bundle of new and refreshed sedans over the past few years. Can you think of one? (Read More…)

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…)

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