Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Saab Soft Launches 9-5 Via iTunes AppStore

In iPhone and iPad application news, Saab released a new app for the launch of the 9-5. I believe this is Saab's first application on either platform and unfortunately it's not much of an effort.

The application merely mimics the content from their website where feature pages, a 360, an image gallery, and intro video are provided as content in the app. There is nothing more than the reuse of existing content repackaged for an application. It's very similar to what Mercedes did for the C63 AMG two-years ago.

I personally would've like to have seen some handraiser implementation within the application so the company could engage further with the app's users provided of course they are not disappointed after downloading something they basically could have seen on their iPhone or iPad's web browser.

Oh well, hopefully we'll see some more interesting things as Saab gets ready to spend big for their "Change Perspective" 9-5 launch.

Automotive Facebook Fans by Brand: June 2010

Well after a fairly mild, ho-hum couple months life is heating up on the automotive brand fan pages with several companies upping their marketing on the site and a lot of double digital month-over-month growth from several brands in June.

The big battle of fans was last month’s BMW vs. Audi battle royal. It seems both brands answered the challenge by working hard to get new fans. BMW had a staggering 36% increase in fans which is an insane growth percentage from a brand with already the highest numbers of major automotive fans on the social media site. They added 244,181 fans in one month!

Audi did very well too with a 16% growth rate and 103,255 fans added in June. That’s almost the total amount of Toyota Facebook fans; 107,389 fans to be exact.

I’m still trying to figure out what BMW and Audi did to drive so many “Likes” in one month. My guess is outreach to owners through Become a Fan messaging and some social media marketing on Facebook, but I can’t confirm either.

Toyota did a lot of marketing on Facebook this month, but they didn’t do it to drive people to the Toyota fan page; instead, they took users to their Toyota Safety landing page where they are working on their safety perception issue after many recalls.

Lexus had its own Facebook goals where they drove consumers to their Facebook fan page by enticing them with the new halo vehicle advertisement for the new LFA super car. The message must be getting through as my own father in-law, not a car guy at all, started asking me about the LFA one day on a Home Depot run; though, he saw the ad on television.

Honda reignited their love machine this month by running Facebook ads for their Everybody Knows Somebody Who Loves a Honda Facebook application and they even did a Father’s Day ad that tied in that Day’s message with Honda’s own campaign message (sorry I had a screenshot of the ad but must not have saved it.)

Mini and Infinti both had big jumps in fans with 32% and 43% gains respectively. Infiniti ran a campaign promoting their Cirque du Soleil contest that brought users to a Facebook tab promoting the contest. Meanwhile, Mini had its fun challenging Porsche to a race.

The Mini vs. Porsche effort definitely spawned some major engagement with its fans that mostly loved the idea of challenging the all mighty Porsche 911.

It certainly was a crazy June on Facebook. I’m curious what July will bring.

UPDATE: Thanks to one of my new Twitter followers @ChrisBrashear it seems Audi ran a photo upload contest in June which I'm sure was supported with some ad dollars on the site too.


Toyota Goes Digital to Market Safety Perception Gap

Toyota is in a real tailspin lately after countless recalls and the latest JD Power Quality Rating that gave the automaker a terrifying drop from 6th to 21st place out of 33 brands. Some industry pundits feel Toyota has enjoyed a leisurely advantage from their customers’ perception of strong quality over the years while in reality it has been deteriorating. A recent episode of Autoline After Hours had host John McElroy commenting on how all of the news is finally showing some of the chinks in Toyota’s quality armor that many consumers have known this for years. (As a side note: If you like this blog, you'll love Autoline After Hours it is by far the best Auto Industry podcast. I highly recommend it for weekly viewing.)

Whatever the case with Toyota’s real or perceived quality and safety issues are they have launched a major digital media campaign to respond to the safety issue.

The initial response was Toyota’s Recall landing page, but now they are moving to a strategic response around “Toyota Safety”. The online ads are directing people to the new safety site that communicates some of Toyota’s efforts around building safe cars. They feature their IIHS Top Safety Pick ratings, their SMART Teams who conduct rapid on-site analysis of issues, and their TV spots (online video) feature safety engineers and families that trust the brand. “At Toyota, we’re currently investing one million dollars an hour to enhance the safety and technology of our vehicles.”

Toyota has even branded their five safety features under the “Star Safety System” which is now standard on all their vehicles. What is the system? It’s traction control, stability control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake distribution, and brake assist.

The latest ad buy was one recently used by Chevrolet on Yahoo! Mail that uses a background look to the mail login page (see image at left.) They are also buying several key placements on Facebook to get the message out.

I really like Toyota’s Safety landing page. It provides four clear messages with some well-executed online video explaining the company’s commitment and seriousness about responding to their safety perception issue. After months of news stories reporting unattended accelerating vehicles --some true and some alleged hoaxes -- the company needs to show they make safe vehicles.

The question now is will we see a Toyota Quality landing page after their plunging JD Power Quality rating? If one types in the page is redirected to This page does not look like it is ready for prime time as a destination for online media, but that could easily change if Toyota uses the same formula they have for the Safety and Recall landing pages.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Can We Please Permanently Getaway from Flash Mobs

Flash mob MINI - l'attraversamento piĆ¹ lungo della storia! from Alice Coppola on Vimeo.

Mini Italy proves we all need to getaway from doing any more flash mobs. There is a Countryman Italian site the flash mob is promoting:

P.S. - Sorry about Mini being the subject of the 3 of my last 4 blog posts.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mini Trains to Upset Porsche's Piece of Iron

Okay, I'm allowed to be wrong. Right? Well in the case of Mini vs Porsche I'm now a fan of what this marketing mayhem has become especially with the latest piece that pits Porsche as Ivan Drago and Mini as underdog Rocky Balboa.

The best part of this execution is how Mini launched the "Mini Rocky IV" video on the video comedy site Funny or Die. The page is surrounded with ad units promoting Mini's event to race Porsche and to add to the consumer interest Mini is looking for someone to drive a Porsche Carrera S against a Mini Cooper S.

So I'll admit it. The Mini vs Porsche campaign is getting interesting and is generating a lot of dialog amongst fans from both brands and other auto enthusiasts. It's fun and getting really absurd, in a good way.

Just like Apple, never bet against Mini.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Chevrolet Ad Buy with Yahoo! Brings the Bing

I ran across a very interesting ad buy from Chevrolet, or is it Chevy, this morning on Yahoo! Mail's login page where a Chevrolet Malibu interior is featured taking up 95% of the background of the page. It looks very similar to what the search site Bling does, but it is an ad not just background wallpaper.

I thought I'd share this because it really is well-done and a very interesting ad buy that was something you can't ignore from the car you can't ignore. Plus I like how simple Chevrolet kept it with just one simple call to action: "Learn More". I'm certain the click-through-rates on this buy were very nice; though, it would be interesting to see if it was effective enough to cover what I'm sure was a very pricey ad placement.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mini Throws Down Its Little Gauntlet

Public manufacturer versus manufacturer challenge invites are just plain dumb. The latest one is a marketing effort from Mini asking Porsche to race its 911 against a Mini Cooper S at Road Atlanta.

As Porsche’s President and CEO of North America Detlev Von Platen (or “Det” as I like to call him for short) puts it so well to Mini, “We welcome you at Sebring, Le Mans, Daytona or any other sanctioned race where there is more at stake than T-shirts and valet parking spaces.”

The Porsche President and CEO and anyone else with half a brain knows that if Mini really wants to race another manufacturer they have a couple real options:

Why Mini's Challenge Is Weak

Do as “Det” says and enter your car in a sanctioned race. Commit yourself to racing, don’t just do some lame publicity stunt. If you do want to do a marketing version than just do it. Here is how.

Take your car and buy a manufacturer’s car and race the two cars at a track. Even better use the same driver to man both cars and race for times to see which car really performs best since any true racing fan knows the person driving has a huge impact on winning. (By the way, we did this with the Lincoln MKS 6 versus 8 Challenge and yes we did it at a high altitude for a reason.)

Copy General Motors and do something similar to what Bob Lutz did with the “May the Best Car Win” that became the CTS-V Challenge.

Now this effort was a bit more organic than say Mini’s boardroom marketing idea. See Lutz just made an open challenge that of course was rightfully ignored by the manufacturers, but interestingly not ignored by a Wes Siler from the blog Jalopnik. Wes’ pressing of GM led to a competition where the manufacturers opted out and owners and bloggers showed up to race Lutz. Unfortunately they also raced a heavily loaded track of CTS-Vs and one manned by professional driver John Heinricy - to make sure a Cadillac won.

What worked so well for GM is that they got the online community involved and the trash talking was instantaneous. A manufacturer-to-manufacturer challenge just doesn’t have the same appeal. If a company really wants to challenge another brand, get some competitor vehicles and go at it.

A public challenge is a cheap way at an attempt to generate buzz. It didn't do much as buzz dropped to nothing after the June 9th when mini announced their challenge.

Facebook Response

Mini USA posted the Porsche response letter three times on its fan page. I’m guessing multiple people are administrating the page and failing to check what's posted. That aside, the response from the fans was an overwhelmingly positive rah-rah for Mini mainly saying that Porsche is chicken. So it did rally some already pumped owners or fans of the brand. A few people actually wondered why Mini isn’t responding by entering Mini into the racing circuit. We all know why that isn’t happening…

UPDATE June 16, 2010: And it keeps getting weird...


Patriotism. Hell Yeah!

After a decent debut with their Super Bowl Man's Last Stand ad, the work from Wieden+Kennedy has been less impressive. The Charger sitting in an empty parking lot with Michael C. Hall's voice-over or the "Why" ad featuring three racing minivans driving in the desert have been confusing and looking like Wieden+Kennedy was struggling with extending the campaign concept that is until now.

The newest Dodge ad to debut on today's coverage of the USA versus UK World Cup Soccer match is irreverent, macho and patriotic. It features an Independence War reenactment with a gas peddle mashing George Washington behind the wheel of a Dodge Challenger.

It's brash, historically hilarious, and appeals to an inner defiance every man has who loves fast cars and waving flags. It's as if Wieden+Kennedy did a mashup of Dukes of Hazard and a History Channel Documentary and exclaimed "Fuck Yeah! That's a heaping pile of awesome right there! Let's do it."

As one Auto Blog commenter put it, "Loved the commercial as it gave me a good chuckle and brought back a little of that car fun."

Funny thing is the commenter is right; it works. Nice job Dodge.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Would Appreciate Your Input...

As a reader of The Auto Marketing Blog, I would like to know what you would like to see from this site. My workload is increasing drastically and I am having to consider two approaches to continuing the blog. So I thought it would be good to know which approach you would like to see.

The long form approach would follow my current efforts, just in a less frequent manner as I honestly will not be able to keep up the pace.

The quick posts would allow for me to share more content as I see it but without the analysis.

Regardless of approach, I will still continue to do the Automotive Facebook Fans by Brand monthly reports.

Please let me know what you would like to see and share any additional comments you may have.

Thank you for reading the blog.


Automotive Facebook Fans by Brand: May 2010

For the first time since I started reporting these numbers, we have a new leader. BMW overtook Porsche this month. BMW’s lead may not last long as Audi is gaining followers at almost two times the rate BMW is and Audi is only about 20,000 followers behind BMW. Audi gained 13% while BMW gained 7% in May leading me to believe the top spot may change hands quite a bit between BMW and Audi. Porsche’s growth is a mere 3% and hasn’t been strong in awhile so I expect them to stay out of the lead unless the company decides to spend marketing dollars for Facebook fans.

Besides a new champion and threatening soon to be champion, not much else is going on in the automotive Facebook Fan world. Scion has the biggest surge since establishing their “official” fan page a couple months back. They are running a new promotion called Unlock the tC Road Trip. The contest uses Facebook Connect and game players can recruit their “Crew” using their Facebook friends. The game just launched June 1st so other than some early promotion it probably has little to do with Scion’s surge of fans, but the new game could impact fan growth in the coming two months.

One trend I am seeing is in use by Honda. The use of a custom Facebook tab to use for contests is becoming very popular since it is another avenue to attract people to a contest promotion, particularly people who have already demonstrated interest in your brand or product. The Honda Civic vehicle fan page markets the Civic Tour which has been going on for several years now, but I believe this is the first (or possibly second time) Honda has used Facebook to feature the event on its fan page.

The Honda Civic Tour example is more of a landing page message that jumps the user to a microsite, which allows for contest entry and more details (checkout the Honda Civic Tour site.) This is becoming very common as Scion too is following the same approach with their latest sweepstakes/contest.

This month I wasn’t served any automotive “become a fan” ads on Facebook. It’s possible Facebook is getting more intelligent with its ad serving or there just isn’t the rush to gain Facebook fans that was going on late last year and earlier this year. The more modest growth numbers tell me companies are not buying “become a fan” ad buys right now and maybe finding other methods of marketing their Facebook presence like adding Become a Fan to their website or email materials.

Download the Excel file: Facebook Auto Fan File (May 2010)


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lexus Goes Dark Green with Its Latest Hybrid

The Lexus CT 200h hybrid hatchback is being marketed under “The Darker Side of Green” campaign and realized by a new interactive online game called “The Dark Ride.” Game players ride shotgun and get a good look around the inside and outside of the CT 200h.

Several action packed moments take place to showcase how cool and fun the CT 200h is provided your idea of fun is driving to avoid bad guys and sharing a car with Tony, Lexus’ star bad boy in the Dark Ride.

“With ‘Dark Ride’ we are creating a unique virtual test drive opportunity so consumers can experience this hybrid, that is like no other, months before it is available at dealerships in early 2011,” said Dave Nordstrom, Lexus vice president of marketing. “In it, consumers play a co-starring role as the fun-to-drive Lexus CT 200h is put through its paces. By guiding the driver and the CT through a series of adventures, customers will be exposed to ‘The Darker Side of Green,’ which is completely different than the way hybrids are usually portrayed.”

The only real issue I have with the site is the time it takes to start the game. Setup involves allowing access to a webcam and talking into your computer’s microphone. Talking into a microphone isn’t very work environment conducive so that causes some delays.

Also the game is really more of a movie where you click or talk to engage decisions. The car is driven by The Boondock Saints actor Norman Reedus who does an excellent job keeping the energy up. As the participant, it is a bit more of a passive experience though still more engaging than simply watching a video.

After the experience is over, Lexus showcases a couple music artists from the soundtrack that link out to iTunes. People can also enter their information up to three times to either stay informed about the CT 200h, win a CT 200h, or if they have whatever a “Dark Card” is they can enter information to get invited to special events that will happen in Miami, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

There are of course the usual social sharing links to Facebook, Twitter and email. I did the Facebook share and the automatic text reads, “Check out my Dark Ride Trailer.” Unfortunately, the trailer isn’t custom to the person and comes off a bit odd. As my little sister commented on Facebook, “Why is this YOUR Dark Ride Trailer?”