Thursday, April 30, 2009

Lexus Pops Its Top

Lexus wants you to “Open It Up” according to their Facebook ad for the launch of the 2010 Lexus IS Convertible. I’m guessing they couldn’t go with “Pop Your Top”, so they found a nice PG-version of the phrase to get people excited about another hardtop folding roof from a luxury manufacturer.

The CRM email piece is a little more understated as it just asks be "Open All Night". Oh wait, that sounds a bit odd too. Regardless of when you open it all up, the new Lexus IS Convertible has arrived.

The email campaign started yesterday and ads for the car appeared on Facebook today. Links from the ads, take you to the Lexus Future Vehicles section. Here there is a limited palette of colors to choose from, four to be exact. A couple videos show some nice beauty shots of the top retracting complete with spa-like music soundtrack. Lastly, a surprise, or at least it was for me, the new convertible is offering a F-Sport package that upgrades the car with many performance features including cross-drilled brakes, performance intake, sway bars and many other enthusiast goodies.

I have to admit, I was taken aback by the F-Sport options. It is obviously Lexus’ answer to the new BMW Performance line that the Bavarians are promoting lately. The package does add an element to the Lexus convertible I was surprised to see Lexus pursue.

The IS is a rather sedate, boring car. I drove a IS350 all-wheel drive for a couple days last year after bringing in my wife’s RX300 for some service at the dealership. The loaner IS I had was nice, but it was typical Lexus. Great materials, decent handling, and a peppy engine, but nothing I’d call out as performance. Sure there is the IS-F M3 fighter, but that seems like a much different beast than the standard issue IS.

The IS convertible just doesn’t strike me as an enthusiast car for Lexus as I’m sure we’ll see tons of real estate agents, scratch that they’re broke, uhm… female doctors driving around in this car. The enthusiast culture of BMW owners is hard enough on us convertible owners (I drive a 2007 BMW 335i convertible), I can’t imagine how unconvincing a F-Sport IS convertible is to the performance crowd. So, it is an interesting product decision and it will be interesting to see if and how Lexus markets the IS beyond the top popping crowd.

I find it odd that they are now heavily promoting this car and still lack a Build & Price feature to configure the vehicle on their website. Plus, driving customers to their Future/Concept website section gives the impression the car is some way off in the future and there is no communication about when to expect the Lexus IS convertible at dealerships.

After some searching, the Lexus IS convertible will enter showrooms in late May and start at $38,490. So, keep your top on until then...

Chrysler Submerges Into Bankruptcy

It was B-Day for Chrysler today. Unfortunately, no one was celebrating as this wasn't your usual B-Day. It was a day of unknowns, as the largest pre-packaged attempt at bankruptcy is about to progress for the next 30-60 days when a new Chrysler-Fiat entity will emerge from the flames.

Bloomberg News is reporting today that the "'New Chrysler' [will become] a wholly owned subsidiary of Fiat, would assume some of the old Chrysler’s liabilities, and pay $2 billion into the company’s bankrupt estate, according to court documents."

For the automotive advertising world, Chrysler's Agency of Record - BBDO - is currently the second highest unsecured creditor which is owed $58.1 Billion. What happens to BBDO during this process isn't going to be pretty since so many are inline before them to get paid. It's fairly certain Chrysler won't be doing any advertising during the bankruptcy 30-60 day process.

Unfortunately for Chrysler the day also included some Twittering from the @Chrysler account that referred Twitter users to a new website, that was obviously a rushed job.

The Epiq Systems restructuring website holds a few press statements. Apparently, Epiq Systems provides "innovative technology solutions for litigation, bankruptcy, and financial transactions." Looking at Epiq's own website, they look like an alternative energy provider complete with windmills and blue skies. I'm not sure what's so "innovative" about Epiq Systems? The site they created for Chrysler is very HTML 2.0, circa 1996. Let's hope Chrysler at least hires an effective legal council.

In closing, it is a sad day for Detroit and I do wish the best for the employees, families, suppliers, dealers, and businesses indirectly impacted by Chrysler's bankruptcy filing today. It will definitely be an interesting thing to watch as Chrysler is the first to attempt this new form of rapid "pre-packaged" bankruptcy. Let's just hope a healthy new company can emerge that can build innovative, desirable products.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Ford Offers Conquest Cash To Chrysler Defectors

Ford has been offering a $1,000 conquest incentive to Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge owners looking to buy a Ford, Lincoln or Mercury SUV, truck or crossover, but not car. These offers are found in several regional markets: New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Denver and Phoenix.

So, are they effective?

From the Wall Street Journal: "Chrysler and GM owners "have been defecting to Ford and Lincoln-Mercury products in great numbers since the beginning of the year," Amanda DeMouthe, a marketing manager for Ford's Northeast operations, wrote in an April 9 email to dealers.

Independent numbers seem to back up Ms. DeMouthe's assertion. In March, 48% of Ford buyers turned in cars or trucks of other manufacturers, up from 38% in August, according to, an auto-shopping Web site."

Ford has had the benefit of separating itself from it's U.S. rivals by not taking a government bailout. This has left to a lot of positive perception from the general public, especially consumers angry about private companies begging for government money when the nation is in a pretty deep recession.

But Ford isn't the only one trying a conquest rebate. Suzuki is offering $1,000 to a customer who trades in an SUV or minivan to buy the Suzuki XL7, and the customer is required to trade that vehicle into the dealer. Details here in Adobe PDF format.

Nothing is really new with conquest incentive programs. They seem to be working for Ford.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mission Impossible: Nissan Seeks Cool Creative Canadians

There are plenty of cool, creative people in Canada, but will they find out about Nissan’s Hypercube campaign?

Since it’s not easy selling cars these days, why not give away some excess inventory? But in the case of the Nissan Cube, I doubt Nissan will have much of a problem moving these quirky, stylish boxes on wheels and their latest campaign Hypercube is trying its best to bring several new buyers to the brand.

Nissan Canada is giving away 50 2009 Nissan Cubes to creative people. The top 500 have already been chosen and now the public is voting for their top 50 to receive a Cube.

The 500 are currently showing Canada how cool, fun, unique, different, creative, and interesting a person they are. There are a lot of musicians on the site, including a 2008 Scribble Jam Beatbox Champion. He has some very interesting beats showing his love of the Cube, but has some tough competition for the top spot.

Seems that if you want to win a popularity contest, it’s not about how creative you are; it’s more about how great you look in a bra. Yeah, that’s right the top spot goes to an attractive singer, Amelie Paul from Montreal. The good news is the winners are chosen, not by their ability to look great in lingerie; rather, “it’s a combination of votes from your peers and a panel of esteemed judges who make the final decision as to the 50 of you who walk away with a brand new cube.”

You can stay engaged with the Hypercubers by subscribing to their YouTube channel, Twitter account or Facebook. This is starting to become the norm with automotive brands who use everyday people to generate buzz for their product (see the Fiesta Movement for an example from Ford.)

The website is promoting the buzz being generated by having a live Twitter feed on their homepage, whenever “hypercube” is Tweeted. I’m also seeing a lot of the Hypercube contestants regularly talking about the campaign on Twitter, so it is getting out to their social network and probably creating some nice buzz for Nissan through their friend’s participation in the contest.

Giving away 50 cars certainly gets people’s interest, whether the losers turn into buyers is a whole other thing. Regardless, it looks like a well-executed contest and is certainly building awareness with the Cube’s aspirational target -- young creative types.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Is GM Marketing Trying To Kill Two Brands?

First, AgencySpy had someone share a ad placement sponsored by Hummer promoting "Green Is Universal" on Thursday's homepage. Green + Hummer? Okay, that has to be just about the worst sponsorship buy decision, couldn't the GM Total Confidence team bring Chevy Volt into the sponsorship? Or is this a way to further kill Hummer as GM sheds its brands under restructuring? Who knew online media was part of the plan to bury the Hummer brand.

Then tonight I received an email marketing message from Pontiac with the subject line "Pontiac: Drive with Total Confidence", this on the day every automotive news outlet is reporting GM to "Kill Pontiac", not exactly the most confidence inspiring action to lure new drivers.

Maybe GM marketing is not very happy about the announcement of 20% of GM's marketing department to be laid off?

It's a sad time for General Motors and I really do wish them all the best, especially Pontiac as I love the new G8 and feel the brand has a lot of equity in the performance space, when given the right products. Unfortunately, GM doesn't do the brand much justice with products like The Vibe or G3 and the marketing team isn't doing GM justice by associating Hummer with Green and Pontiac with Total Confidence (at least this week.)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Twitter's Home for Auto Enthusiasts, #CarChat

There is a small but growing car phenomenon on Twitter called #CarChat. It is a regularly scheduled event every Wednesday evening from 8pm – 10pm EST where fellow automotive journalists, enthusiasts and anyone interested in discussing cars is welcome to join in on a Twitter discussion by following and posting comments using the text “#carchat”. There is a “How-To: #carchat” post on that tells you how to engage in the online discussion.

I finally had an opportunity to participate tonight. Unfortunately, the time doesn’t work the best for me as I’m usually in the middle of helping my wife put our twin three year old boys to sleep, but I was able to sneak a few posts and follow the discussion during our normal tucking in routine.

What I found is a vibrant discussion from a very automotive literate group of people. The sessions are led by vLane Featured Contributor Michael Banovsky (Twitter: @michaelbanovsky). Michael manages the topics and discussions run a good 15 or so minutes, or until the conversation gets stale. Here are some of the topics we discussed this evening:

Aesthetics and design-wise? What are your preferences for a dream car?

So is it better to all drive efficient small cars to conserve fuel, or switch to electrics and burn it somewhere else?

Has anyone here driven an electric car? Thoughts?

Anyway, #carchat is an interesting experiment on Twitter and one I hope some of my fellow automotive enthusiasts will follow. Maybe we can even discuss some of the marketing done by automotive brands in a future #carchat session?

Follow using the #CarChat Widget:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Audi Q5 Conquests Lexus RX

Currently the Lexus RX model controls 70% of the luxury-compact-SUV segment, but Audi is trying its best to reduce that dominance with their newest entry the Audi Q5.

From Advertising Age: "Roughly half of the trade-ins at Audi dealerships for the new Q5 are the Lexus RX, Audi Chief Marketing Officer Scott Keogh told Advertising Age at the New York auto show earlier this month."

"Although the pair of Q5 launch TV spots don't mention the Lexus model specifically, rows of the RX appear in both. In the ads, the actors can't locate their SUVs since all the vehicles look alike -- except for the Audi. " more.

Price points on the cars are pretty similar, though, the Q5 is a bit smaller in size and interior space. Audi is building some great products which is giving their product portfolio an overall lift. The Audi brand is gaining some momentum with some excellent products that are not only nipping at Lexus, but BMW too as the Audi A4/A5 are considered formidable competitors against the BMW 3-series.

The new Lexus RX borrows heavily from its shared platform sibling, the Toyota Venza. They share a lot of the same interior treatments; though, the exterior of the new RX is quite inline with the RX model DNA, yet it is a bit more egg-like in the new design. So, the new look also may not be helping the Lexus against some formidable competition.

Toyota Believes the Smart Money is on Venza

Contextual integration is a great way to increase interest in your brand especially when your audience is not in-market for a new car, which let's be honest is just about everybody these days. Toyota realizes this as it is in the midst of launching the new Toyota Venza in a falling market.

So, how do you get people to see your product in a positive financial light?

You link up with Smart Money. Toyota is running online media under the tag line "Planning for Life 2.0" which is a nod that life is changing, at least our financial life after losing half of our retirement, worrying about job loss, or going through foreclosure. Of course, the media is a bit more positive than I am.

The execution looks at saving people money in how they plan their financial decisions, perhaps Toyota is hoping some better financial decisions about my home or my retirement might improve my situation and free up some money to buy a new SUV.

There of course is no financial advice when it comes to your automotive purchase, since buying a $30k plus car isn't the best financial decision when you may or may not have a job next month. And Toyota has yet to follow some of its competitors with a Hyundai Assurance like promotion.

Regardless of the financial decision benefits, it's about getting in people's natural path and people are very interested in better financial decisions.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ford's Fiesta Movement Launched Today

The Fiesta Movement launched today. Here is some coverage of the event and what it means for Ford.

From Convince and Convert social media blog: "I predict that the Fiesta Movement will be looked back upon as the event that made social media a real player in the marketing mix. When corporations began to not just realize, but act upon, the fact that companies today garner the customers they deserve, not the customers they buy via advertising."

You can now checkout some of the content being generated on the Fiesta Movement website. Checkout the "Live Feed" tab for different types of content being aggregated from YouTube, Twitter and Flickr.

When you watch a video posted by a Fiesta Agent, they will ask that you vote 5 stars and leave a comment for them on YouTube. Agents with the highest ratings, comments, and I'm guessing views will be eligible for prizes. What prizes? I don't know but it looks like Agents will compete against each other and the social media space will vote who is developing great content or, at least, making the best plea for ratings.

It's an interesting strategy since higher ratings lead to improved placement when people search in environments like YouTube, where you can sort by Rating or View Count. Theoretically this will give Fiesta Movement some priority if the Agent content is well received and engaged with on platforms like YouTube; thus leading to casual users of sites like YouTube to view content from regular people experiencing the car, which is what Agents are supposed to be.

It will be an intriguing experiment for Ford as it will showcase genuine comments about the product, provided people accept genuineness from people receiving a free car, free gas, and free insurance from Ford.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Michigan Dealership Gets Politically Charged

This post is running a week behind schedule. I ran across an article in last week's Detroit Free Press showcasing Les Stanford Chevroloet Cadillac in Dearborn, Michigan who released a new advertisement attacking Alabama Senator Richard Shelby. In Michigan automotive circles, Senator Shelby is Public Enemy Number One. Shelby was very outspoken during the Detroit Three congressional hearings earlier this year and late last year. For example, "We're wasting our time trying to keep them alive," he is shown saying in one ad.

So, it was local news when a dealership edited in some of Shelby's comments in their dealer TV advertising.

From the Detroit Free Press: "The ads are the work of the Sussman Sikes agency in Southfield. Owner Alan Sussman, who describes himself as "the last angry man in America," said in the 1940s and 1950s, Shelby's anti-Detroit rhetoric would have been considered treason.

'What's wrong with an autoworker making $100,000?' Sussman asked. 'This is America.'"

I'm not too sure how effective this approach is. On one hand, it probably attracted some additional traffic to the dealership, especially if a Cadillac buyer was cross shopping dealerships and may have added Les Stanford to their list because of the spot and it resonating with a heavy local GM employee and retiree population.

The negative aspect would come from a group probably not too interested in bailed out companies like GM or Chrysler. There certainly are a lot of Americans dissatisfied with taxpayer dollars being spent on bailout after bailout, and this ad further inflames this group.

I'm sure this strategy plays better in Michigan. I wouldn't suggest it to an Alabama dealership or anywhere else outside of the Great Lakes region, but that goes without saying.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Volvo's YouTube Ad Integrates Twitter Live Feed

Volvo is the latest brand to integrate Twitter into their online media campaign. They did a highly visible execution that allowed people to Twitter Volvo that showed the Twitter feed in their YouTube homepage ad. They also set up a way for people at the NY Auto Show event to Twitter their immediate feedback after seeing the car.

Today, Volvo is sharing on Twitter that “[they’ve] been overwhelmed by the response to our YouTube ad from Wed.” A lot of the overwhelming response is due to coverage in the media space where several marketing Twitter users have inundated Volvo with requests to see the ad they missed last Wednesday. Fortunately, Volvo created a mirror website showcasing their ad at

I did not catch the ad on its live day, so it is unclear to me if the Live Twitter feed was filtered before appearing on the YouTube ad. After watching the recent Skittles experiment, that made the Skittles homepage their Twitter profile page, the Volvo feed talked just about the car and the Volvo execution. It didn’t turn into comments like “Hitler loves Skittles” or similar nonsense Skittles had to deal with before moving their homepage to their Facebook fan page. I’d be surprised if Volvo didn’t moderate comments before they appeared on the YouTube advertisement.

Overall the Volvo YouTube ad is an excellent integration of their live event at the New York Auto Show and allowing Twitter users to share their comments too. It gave the ad an interesting appeal from an innovative perspective and, more importantly, from a credibility perspective. Why credibility? After looking at some of the Twitter comments, many people shared their personal experience with the Volvo at the NY event. This, of course, is much stronger than Volvo telling you in an ad that their City Safety system is great or their interior is luxurious.

Here are examples from the Twitter user comments:

“City Safety should be on every car!”
“It was mean son. It officially stops. The car STOPPED. I’m in!”
“I saw the commercials & wondered how it worked. It was cool.”
“The car is cool inside.”

More information about the execution can be found at

Billboard Revenge Facebook Style

As a BMW enthusiast, I became inundated this week with people telling me about a recent billboard exchange of words between Audi and BMW. I'm sure you have seen it, it's basically BMW responding to Audi's recent campaign that directly challenges Audi's main competitors: BMW, Mercedes and Lexus. The Audi billboard reads, "Your Move BMW" with a photo of their new A4 sedan. BMW responded with a billboard across the street saying "Checkmate" with their new M3 coupe. All of this brought out the alpha-male in all my car enthusiast friends and certainly provided some nice laughs at the Audi fan boys.

Since this has spread across the web in typical viral fashion via Facebook, emails, Twitter, and even my non-automotive friendsa asked if I saw the billboards, Audi had to come back with a response. Audi decided to engage its fans by asking its Facebook fan page members to develop a new billboard mocking BMW's "Checkmate" statement.

What came back were several images of Audi's supercar R8 and a few featuring the new S5 sport coupe. Slogans included responses like "Game over"; "Run along children, play time is over"; and "Let's up the stakes". It was a good attempt to bring the fans into the dialog, instead of Audi marketing coming up with some witty reply or ignoring the viral laugh BMW gave the web.

The unfortunate part for Audi (and yes I'm trying to be a subjective BMW owner, I know it's not possible) is that the clever statement of BMW is like the well timed, sarcastic comment at a party that should just stop there, but someone always tries to carry it out without the same successful wit.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tiny Products Warding Off Big PR Problems

After $4 became a reality in the summer of 2008, there has been a progressive push to build smaller, fuel-efficient cars for the U.S. market. Advocates, like author Thomas Friedman, have dedicated significant pages to greening the US car industry by raising CAFE standards and promoting more Euro-like auto choices instead of behemoth SUVs.

So it was a bit disheartening yesterday to read about some rather poor crash tests performed by theInsurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). They reported that three popular small cars - SmartForTwo, Honda Fit, and Toyota Yaris - all received a Poor rating when in a front, off-set crash with a midsized sedan.

From Kicking Tires: "What these fresh results from IIHS spell out is that in a frontal collision, physics dictate that the larger vehicle in the test will fare better than the smaller one. Force is distributed unevenly, making the small car lose out in any matchup versus a larger car.

Crash statistics prove this to some degree. In 2007, small-car crashes resulted in a 17% higher fatality rate than midsize-car crashes."

One company was especially irate about the test they criticized saying, "IIHS devised a test that no automaker has designed to and that they claim only represents about one percent of real world accidents."

Safe and Smart is a site Smart car is using to generate user content about their owners real-world experience with the car's safety capabilities. The site is very interesting, for many reasons. First it features real crash photos and stories from owners detailing what happened to them and how they walked away. You can also "Share Your Story". (Yes, I was tempted to write a story of how I was involved in an offset front crash with a Mercedes C class and upload the picture from IIHS.)

The site also provides product details about the safety measure Smart has taken with the car's technology and design. I also found in Smart's press release to the IIHS study that the promoted this site as a more informed response to IIHS's approach.

Toyota ignored the report, from what I can tell; however, their online Toyota Community did not. Someone started a threaded discussion entitled, "What is 'wrong' with these new subcompacts?" where several people shared their thoughts on the topic.

on Twitter did not comment on the story nor did Honda release any statements on the Honda USA website.

The good news for Toyota and Honda (and Smart too) is that other outlets are responding to the study with contempt. Some reader comments on blogs found it interesting that no American car company cars were featured, like the Chevy Aveo. This lead to comments like this on Edmunds, "I wonder if this is an attempt either by the media or domestic manufacturers to smear foreign automotive manufacturers."

Motor Trend
had another theory: "Yes, our highways would be safer if we removed anything smaller than a midsize car, and larger than a half-ton pickup, too. Buses and semis included. Of course, IIHS doesn't expect that to happen -- it doesn't want that to happen. It simply wants to make sure that the money you save by buying a small, fuel-efficient car goes into the pockets of your auto insurance company."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Going Bankrupt? Just Smile

From The New York Times: "We get a lot of, ‘You’re going out of business,’ ‘You guys are going bankrupt,’ ” said Shannon Melahn, part of the Chrysler presenting team. She shrugged and added, “We just smile.”

It must be a difficult time to be an automotive spokesmodel. I'm sure it is in New York City as they are in the midst of their annual show this week. The New York Times is reporting some of the tribulations models have incurred while trying to showcase new products at Chrysler and General Motors displays.

I attended the Detroit Auto Show last January, two public days and one supplier day, but heard no heckling from the Michigan crowds. Not that it didn't happen, but for some reason it doesn't surprise me in a climate of a new round of bailouts, rising unemployment, and an always opinionated New York population, GM and Chrysler are finding some strange outbursts from show visitors.

My personal favorite, "One G.M. presenter said a woman told her the company was responsible for the death of American soldiers in Iraq. The logic went like this: if G.M. made more fuel-efficient cars, the country would not need so much oil, and if the country did not need oil, United States troops would never have invaded." Yeah, I don't think people like this "woman" really understand the costs of electric vehicles, their unproven long-term durability, and the mass consumption of electric cars it would take to significantly reduce our dependance on foreign oil."

Oh well, I do feel sorry for the attractive women and men having to market the products at the show this year. Maybe GM should just have Bob Lutz be the spokesmodel, while Chrysler's Jim Press crouches behind a Fiat 500?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Certfiled Pre-Owned Conquesting New Car Shoppers found that 32 percent of car shoppers who were thinking of buying a new car are now looking for a more affordable used car as a result of the economy. None of this is that surprising as people are downsizing their expenses.

What is interesting is how OEMs are moving their focus to pre-owned certified program promotion. Mercedes-Benz USA leads its website with a message about their certified program and Lexus has increased their CRM email communications about their 2.9% special financing deal for CPO vehicles.

Lexus developed campaign on CPO called 60 to 0 that urges buyers, "60 Days to Make a Smart Decision." Of course, the site features a countdown clock in case you are curious how long you have to avoid stupidity.

Shape Your Fiesta, By Helping Ford Determine Options

Using the web to gauge consumer interest is nothing new. Ford is trying it right now with their “Shape the 2011 Fiesta” quiz. Visitors can select what options, color and transmission they want for their ideal Fiesta. It’s a great way to see what demand there may be for a new vehicle.

The issue with the idea is will it attract future consumers or just auto enthusiast types who are more than willing to select a manual over automatic transmission for a dream Fiesta, but never really buy such a car? The hope, of course, is that those visiting the Fiesta pre-reveal site are truly considers of the product and will positively impact the production decisions as the car crosses the Atlantic Ocean to enter the U.S. market.

Ford is evaluating quiz-takers by how they define themselves as “loafer or high-top” and “brand-new skateboard or brand-new golf driver”, in their “Choose Your Thing” quiz at the end of the shape your Fiesta poll.

It’s an interesting approach and a commendable way to determine demand, provided potential buyers actually do find the site. I keep filling it hoping they’ll build a manual, hatch in Green Apple.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Few New Products Sites Launched This Week

Three sites launched this week to promote two new products: 2010 Ford Fusion and 2010 Lincoln MKZ. A third site launched, previewing the new 2010 Cadillac SRX to be released in summer 2009.

The Ford and Lincoln sites are sites I was a part of and worked on quiet extensively. Please share your thoughts about the sites as I'll just let them speak for themselves. I will add that both sites are a digital extension of both campaigns and are designed for awareness purposes.

The Cadillac SRX site is a debut that is aimed directly at the Lexus RX350. The site is pretty straightforward, as it is just introducing the product. No positioning and the online media I caught on has a Call to Action to Receive Updates. I did, still no update or thank you after a day.

Banner Glut

Okay, here is a test: Who sponsored this page on Yahoo! Movies? (Insert Jeopardy music) Okay you don't really need 30 seconds to figure this one out. Yep, you guessed it... Acura. Congratulations! You win the Over Sold Online Media Placement award.

Not much to say about this one except that I didn't realize Acura's target consumers had such a passion for The Three Stooges. I would've guessed Three Stooges fans were more Scion xB drivers.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Try It, You'll Like It (Test Drive Marketing)

Everyone wants me to test drive their car. Maybe it has something to do with a new study showing that consumers are more willing to pay more for products they touch? Or maybe someone has been watching too much Yo Gabba Gabba: Try It, You'll Like It?

Several brands are trying to get consumers to their dealerships to simply test drive a car with all kinds of enticements.

For example, BMW Canada will let you test drive eight cars – 5 BMW 3-series variations and 3 direct competitors. Drivers will be given two hours to drive the eight cars in “six real-world scenarios.” There will be full slalom, braking, and acceleration tests participants will experience with professional drivers. The event must be getting some traction as the Vancouver, British Columbia event is already full, leaving space only in Montreal and Toronto. So hurry up if you want to quickly tryout some BMWs, a Mercedes C-Class, Audi A4, and Lexus IS. I wonder what car will be most impressive? Hmmmm….

Meanwhile, Porsche has been promoting their test drive campaign, First Mile, on Yahoo! The First Mile hopes that one mile in a Porsche will convince people that it’s time to buy a Porsche. Whose horrible idea was this? One mile in a Porsche is like having foreplay with Heidi Klum going nowhere. Sure it would be fun and exhilarating but also a major let down.

The Volvo XC60 team is running around the country getting people to see the Volvo in person. You can even checkout their Flickr photo stream. You can test drive it in a parking lot, and you can touch it with a bunch of marketing and dealership employees helping you understand the product’s benefits. Want to know when Volvo is coming to your town? Follow them on Twitter, of course.

So get out and touch a car. Maybe you’ll want it more or you’ll pay more if you actually open a door, sit down and wrap your hands around a supple leather steering wheel. Just remember to be careful, because if you a break it you bought it.

Now You Can Give Your Motorcycle Back Too

I think it is pretty clear that programs like Hyundai's Assurance offer are becoming ubiquitous (see my post on Ford and GM.) Now there is news out of Illinois about a Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealership offing a program using the same insurance company, Walkaway USA, that Hyundai has partnered with.

You can learn more about this at I don't really have much to add as I've covered this type of program enough. Just sharing for those who are interested in seeing how it is propagating across the industry.

I should also note that Hyundai was recognized yesterday as a brand that is "Doing It Right" according to Advertising Age magazine. More assurance programs are sure to be copied.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Hyundai Assurance Reaches Iconic Mockery

It is said, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So what is imitation that mocks? Is that still flattery? Probably not, but sure the hell is fun. Leave it to the website Funny or Die to flatter Hyundai with a spoof of the Hyundai Assurance offer.

Note: The end is a bit crude and offensive. It's PG-13, not R. So don't be too concerned.

What do you think? Is Hyundai's program gaining iconic status now that it is appealing to others sarcastic wit? Funny thing is I found out about this spoof from my own mother. So, it is starting to make it's viral turn around the Internet.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Get Your Rally Cap On

GM's new spot for the Total Confidence incentive plan is all American - baseball, diners, and rally caps. Rally caps? Sure why not... Why not make the rally cap the symbol for beating this recession or a way to aggressively recoup from an impending bankruptcy?

It's an ironic symbol that is associated more with bicycle enthusiasts, not cars. You start to wonder if we don't buy cars the economy will further plummet and we may go backwards as a society and have to start riding bicycles. The horror! Maybe this is a fear campaign with upbeat music, like The Smiths "Girlfriend in a Coma"?

Seriously, it's a decent spot and reminds me a lot of GM's Keep America Rolling ads they ran after 9/11. Of course, at that time, President Bush was telling all of us it was our patriotic duty to go in debt.

It's still a tough sale in a down market and with layoffs hitting over 700,000 in March it's even tougher, but that's not the point. The point is to get people to the dealerships to consider a big purchase and communicate that spending is a way to keep the country going. If we all sit back and save, well guess what... no more GM. So please get your rally caps on and save an American car company.