Category: Marketing

By on February 13, 2019

Lexus unveiled a collaboration with Nike and designer John Elliot at New York Fashion Week, celebrating both human and automotive footwear. The finished piece, titled “Sole of the UX,” is scheduled to make additional appearances across the country later this year, touring with a matching pair of Nike AF1 shoes.

After conducting a bit of research, Elliott appears to be a fashion designer specializing in the least imaginative streetwear ever to enter mass production. His beige drawstring pants, which run about $200 USD, are probably the most creative item in his entire catalog. The brunt of his collection involves plain shirts and lots of faded denim.

While not hideous by any means, it’s devoid of any unique style. The articles of clothing Elliot specializes in are the kind of pieces you’d wear while running errands or relaxing at home. They just cost a lot more. However, as Elliot openly describes his take on fashion as intentionally “basic,” there’s little reason to get ultra salty over how so much of his fashion line resembles a high-quality burlap sack. Instead, let’s focus our collective ire on Lexus. Find Out >

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.  Find Out >

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. Find Out >

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.  Find Out >

By on November 12, 2018

Image: FCA

Some police operations are only made possible by the inclusion of vehicles with 164 horsepower, a (debatably) has-been reggae/pop singer, and the guy from Dune.

The latest marketing coup, if it can be called that, on Fiat Chrysler’s plate involves these three elements, combined with an ’80s-themed, Crockett & Tubbs-like storyline and a hysterical typo that’s still on the automaker’s media site. Find Out >

By on November 6, 2018

Dodge recently launched a 30-second commercial as part of Fiat Chrysler’s new “Big Finish” advertising campaign. While a competent bit of marketing, it falls into the trap of deploying holiday marketing immediately after Halloween.

On the surface, it has everything you’d want from a Christmas-themed car ad. Professional wrestler, former NFL player, and American icon Bill Goldberg makes an appearance as Santa while dwarves install a 6.2-liter Hemi into his sleigh. The Butt Rock comes on strong, accented by angle grinders and relentless engine revving until Santa’s new ride is completed. They even put antlers on the Hellcat logo. It’s stupid and awesome but also way too early for this.

We’re willing to forgive FCA. The automaker has been pretty good about not making commercials that make us strangle anyone of late. Frankly, that’s more than we can say about some of the other domestic nameplates.  Find Out >

By on October 28, 2018

For the most part, the major benefit of brand loyalty is not getting into an argument with your family members at the dinner table. Grandpa worked for General Motors, Dad buys Chevy exclusively, and you decided not to buck the trend. You even bragged about Aunt Beth helping you get a sweet deal on that new Malibu, while everyone nodded in approval between bites of turkey.

However, there are more tangible rewards for sticking with a singular auto brand. Now that the Western market has surpassed peak growth, manufacturers know that it’s going to be a lot harder to reel in new customers. They’ve decided to shift tactics by offering incentives to existing customers in the hopes that they won’t leave them the next time they need a fresh vehicle.  Find Out >

By on October 19, 2018

Image: Ford/YouTube

Ford Motor Company dropped its first Bryan Cranston-filled “Built Ford Proud” commercial today, offering the Breaking Bad alumnus an opportunity to cast aspersions at the company’s rivals, including industry startups. It’s filled with Ted Talk-bashing, futurespeak-trashing bravado linked together with a thread of get ‘er done, implying that talk is cheap, and real progress takes hard work.

You can count on Ford to build the future — that’s the message here.

Halfway through the ad, a 1960s Mustang blasting through a desert landscape morphs into a contemporary model, then morphs again into something else. But what is it? Find Out >

By on October 18, 2018

2018 Chrysler Pacifica S Appearance Package, Image: FCA

Of all the automakers embroiled in the Mad Men-era rush to plumb the psyches of American car buyers, Chrysler’s Dodge division stood head and shoulders above the rest in one key marketing element: sex. It sells, apparently, and Chrysler Corp. made sure to instill a little bit of it, overtly or subconsciously, into its print and TV advertising. As the circa ’66-67 “Dodge Rebellion” campaign gave way to 1968-70’s “Dodge Fever” gambit, the impact of the counterculture movement and America’s rapidly liberalizing attitudes soon became apparent in Dodge’s ad copy.

It was this era in Chrysler’s marketing history that spawned what’s arguably the most sexist (and psychosexual) car ad ever printed: Dodge’s 1969 Charger R/T ad, titled “The Eternal Triangle.”

These were sexy times for America, but even sexier times for Dodge, which had clearly grown too hot under the collar. The onset of the 1970s saw the brand put the tie-dyed shirt and address book in storage, trading its hedonistic copy for the far tamer “Dodge Material” campaign, and the rest is history (some of it quite embarrassing). Given this rich marketing heritage, it’s nice to see Chrysler attempt to spice up a family-oriented minivan with sex. Find Out >

By on September 25, 2018

GM marketplace

General Motors has begun surveying how its drivers experience in-car multimedia, specifically the radio, as part of its new strategy to track customer habits and . With 4G LTE WiFi connectivity now featured inside millions of GM vehicles, the automaker believes technology can be used to fine tune its future marketing strategies.

While an invaluable insight tool for advertisers, it’s also the perfect example of the kind of thing we’ve been complaining about for the last couple of years. General Motors is leaning into Big Data as hard as possible, meaning your personal information could soon be on the line — if it isn’t already.  Find Out >

By on September 16, 2018

While I throughly enjoy motorsport, my NASCAR fandom has dwindled over the years. It’s not a frequency I’m perpetually tuned into anymore, but I revisit the series regularly to keep tabs on what’s happening. However, when I put on Sunday’s race, I noticed something different about the cars. Jimmie Johnson’s Chevrolet had a picture of his own face on the side, as did Martin Truex Jr.’s Toyota. What the hell was going on?

A few minutes of investigation later, I learned that NASCAR had decided to slap emoji’s on the side of every important vehicle to celebrate the 2018 NASCAR Playoffs. Monster Energy Cup Series race teams have each unveiled customized hashtags and emojis for all 16 of the competing drivers in collaboration with the Race Team Alliance and Twitter. And it’s probably my least favorite marketing gimmick in motorsport’s history. Find Out >

By on September 6, 2018

With Ford Motor Company dropping all but one car from its lineup to focus on utility vehicles and crossovers, there’s little reason to run ad campaigns for both. You don’t see Coca-Cola running spots for both Diet Coke and Coke BlāK, as the latter of the two beverages disappeared from store shelves roughly a decade ago. Companies don’t bother pushing products they don’t have, and pretty soon Ford won’t have cars.

Thus, the automaker has ended all nationwide marketing for the Fiesta, Focus, Taurus, and Fusion. Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, said the automaker intends to use the freed advertising dollars on the company’s current and forthcoming utility models — setting aside a portion for the Mustang. But the Fusion, which is slated to stick around for another two years, will have to go without. Find Out >

By on August 22, 2018

You aren’t going to see a lot of televised commercials for the BMW M2 Competition, as it’s an enthusiast car of the highest magnitude. A thirty-second spot in the middle of a popular sitcom doesn’t provide adequate time to run through a laundry list of performance specs for car nerds, and the blanketed marketing approach wouldn’t really be cost-effective, anyway. BMW needs a surgical strike, something viral that can be passed around the internet between the sort of people that actually might consider owning an M2.

That’s what makes its new marketing campaign for the model so good. Outside of offering the most fun you can have inside a car while wearing pants, the M2 isn’t setting any automotive records. It is, however, taking a stab at world records set by humans. Earlier this month, the automaker hooked up a laser to the front of the vehicle to see how many balloons it could pop in a single minute. A week later, it released another video in which it attempted to cut down 116 straw poles with a samurai sword.

We don’t need to tell you that attaching lasers and swords to a car’s exterior is very awesome. And it’s that feeling — like the whole ad campaign was dreamed up by an eight-year-old — that makes for an appealing gimmick.  Find Out >

By on August 17, 2018

Toyota/Youtube

If it wasn’t for celebrity ad appearances, I wouldn’t know that Jim Rockford James Garner thinks the Mazda 626 is, or that Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling chooses the Ford LTD over all other domestic two-door hardtops, simply for the cabin noise level. Meanwhile, red-blooded males across America still can’t shake those recurring thoughts of the .

We owe a great debt to Hollywood.

And Toyota now owes a big, fat check to Chuck Norris, a 78-year-old man famous for driving a Dodge Ram pickup in a show where violent men routinely and inexplicably dropped their guns in order to engage each other with fists. The automaker gets playful in its latest spot for a truck it can’t help but sell boatloads of. Find Out >

By on August 11, 2018

2017 Honda Civic Si Sedan - Image: Honda

Ford’s already brought the axe down on all but one of its car models, and General Motors looks ready to do the same. Other automakers, however, know that ditching sedans would mean abandoning key groups of customers.

For Toyota and Honda, models like the Camry and Civic resonate far more among some demographics, and leaving that segment risks losing those buyers to other brands. Not everyone wants a crossover. Among Asians, Hispanics, and African-Americans, four Japanese nameplates keep popping up at the top of the most-bought list, but one domestic model poses a growing threat. Find Out >

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