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Showing posts with label GM. Show all posts
Showing posts with label GM. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Cost to Not Ignore Nissan



The simple equation of Return on Investment (ROI) is a hot topic in social media circles as the discipline evolves to prove its value in the media and communications mix for business.  It's a topic that has spawned several conference topics, a multitude of articles and several books all vying to show how social media experts can realize ROI in their social strategy.

Within the ROI dialog is another set of value acronyms that try to show other forms of value other than direct monetary value. One popular one is Return on Engagement (ROE) that looks to show value provided by conversations and the establishment of deeper relationships with one's customers or prospective customers.

Thanks to yesterday's AdAge, Nissan has now entered a new acronym to the social value lexicon: Cost of Ignoring (COI). Erich Marx, Nissan's director-interactive and social-media marketing, shared "you have to be there [social media]. It's not about ROI, it's about COI-- cost of ignoring. It's too big to ignore."


Nissan's COI strategy is currently focusing on five vehicle launches in the next 15 months, all of them to include a "heavy emphasis" on social media.

Ever since General Motors pulled out of a $10 million Facebook campaign, the marketing and investment world has been interested in what automotives are doing on the site.  I'm not sure the story about Nissan's latest Facebook activities is that different from what's been happening on Facebook for the past several years from many car companies.

Nissan will be asking Altima fans to share car ideas that might be implemented in a future product and recently they did an essay contest where winners were selected for a drive event at Nissan's proving grounds.

Which brings us back to COI.

Any idea what the equation is for Cost of Ignoring? Perhaps it's something like Cartman's equation for gold.




[Source]: AdAge "Nissan Looks to Facebook to Help Launch Five New Models"



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Friday, July 29, 2011

Chevy Pits Its 100 Years of Cars in a Bracket Challenge



Congratulations to Chevrolet as they get ready to celebrate their 100th birthday on November 3. As part of many festivities that are to happen until then, the brand developed an online experience that pits its 100 years of select models against each other. It is basically a bracket challenge where people vote for their favorite Chevrolet cars and trucks.


The 100 Years of Chevrolet website combines several social media connections with the brand where people vote by clicking a Facebook like button all to answer the age old question "What's the best Chevy of all time?" I know I wasn't asking that question either, but it is fun choosing which car or truck you like best in each round.

Most votes have a clear winner in the first round, but the 1970 Chevelle SS convertible and the 2010 Camaro are in a pretty close match with only 100 votes separating the two cars after almost 4,000 total votes in the match. Psst...I voted for the Chevelle SS.

I'm already a fan of Chevrolet on Facebook, but if you are not you need to be to cast your votes. Unfortunately, once you are a fan the experience got a little spammy after I went back to my Facebook profile since the Chevy 100 website doesn't tell you that every vote is published to your Facebook wall (see image on right.)

Other than the minor publishing to Facebook situation, and yes I get why they did it that way as it creates interest to my friends on Facebook and hopefully more traffic for Chevy's website, the experience is solid and focuses more on people's love of the current lineup and their love of Chevy's prolific automotive history.

So go and vote for your favorite Chevrolet vehicles!


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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Chrysler Group's Mopar Takes a Page from Ford and GM



The social media road trip/rally/race/whatever is so common it’s becoming a bit cliché and in my former days listening to media companies and social agencies pitch ideas there was always some effort that involved putting celebs, comedians or everyday people into cars to share their experience across social media by giving them a car and some challenges to do.

The latest example of this model comes from Chrysler’s performance division Mopar: The event is called Moventure. Get it? They had a call for submissions for filling ten teams that would drive Chrysler division vehicles from Detroit to Golden, Colorado at the NHRA Mopar Mile High Nationals, a “full throttle drag racing series.” The team with the most points stand to win $5,000 in Mopar parts and accessories.

Each brand (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and Fiat) has two teams of two with challenges all along the way to the final destination, think something similar to Chevy’s SxSW Road Trip from 2010 and 2011. It’s kind of funny that my article on the Chevy event garnered a comment stating “*waits for Chrysler to emulate Ford’s Fiesta Movement, just like GM did? ;-p” Apparently the answer is July 2011, sort of.

This is coming out of the Mopar division, not the parent company, though looking how it’s being shared on twitter the Chrysler brand twitter accounts and Chrysler PR people are Retweeting content from the Mopar teams, similar to what happened with both GM and Ford events.

Fiesta Movement was very different from this model. It was 6 months with 100 cars given out that gave time for participants to build an audience. A more likely Ford use of this template was the Ford Fusion Relay Race that used similar teams on a short multi-day road trip.

The Mopar event participation is like others who have blazed this social trail. Most of the social conversation is from the teams with the brand (or agencies) supporting the conversation through Retweets and @ mentions on twitter. There is some video content too that’s being created but as you can tell (image at right) the views are pretty low even after 24 hours since posted.

I really wonder about if these events are worth all of the effort. I’m sure blog coverage is a big win for the organizers and for this Moventure contest. So far there has been zero coverage from the top two automotive blogs – AutoBlog and Jalopnik; however, there was coverage from Car & Driver, Torque News, and CNBC (they reprinted the press release verbatim.)

What is success and what is a good amount of social conversation and who it was from is rarely discussed because no one ever goes back and evaluates their effort against competitor efforts. This I know after actively following many over the years, it’s 90%+ people involved in the effort who discuss and socially share it (team members, brand, and agencies.) There is very little spillover effect unless you really invest big dollars engaging celebrities, philanthropy and market the hell out of it – think Mercedes Tweet Race – or you do something more involved like the 6-month Ford Fiesta Movement.



In full disclosure, I have some good friends that make up two of the teams on this road trip and I really do wish them well. From what I can tell they are doing what they can to generate interest and discussion about their involvement. It’s just that no one really cares, except those participating, when it comes down to it.

I’ve seen the output reports on efforts like this and everyone shows an impressive looking number of “mentions” and a summation of all the video views/comments/tweets, and then some screen-shots of blog coverage and well that’s it and off everyone goes to the next project. I expect Moventure is no different and that's not a criticism of the Mopar effort. It's more a result of how this model historically works.


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Monday, July 11, 2011

Looking Into the Share of Voice of Volt and LEAF



This blog has followed a lot of the marketing efforts of two very compelling vehicles from the past several years: The Chevy Volt and the Nissan LEAF. Both cars are currently taking charge (pun intended) in the battle for green bragging rights with consumers and now Nissan has thrown a new punch at its Chevy competitor.

The new ads feature life with gasoline fueled appliances. The ads look into the continued dependence of gasoline engines as an old technology that is far behind the times, of course most of Nissan’s own portfolio of vehicles are hence old technology, but this is about green bragging rights and Nissan showcasing its competitive advantage.

Chevy has ensconced its Volt as a fighter of “range anxiety.” Range anxiety is the uneasy feeling that one’s all-electric vehicle may run out of charge before reaching the owner’s destination. Chevy has a backup gas engine to avoid such moments of concern, of course that’s pretty expensive backup plan but thankfully both the Volt and LEAF gain from current $7,500 government incentives to offset costs.

I wanted to take a look at how performance for both of these vehicles is doing online and worked with some great people from MutualMind here in Dallas who ran some social media analytics against the two cars for the week of May 29 - June 4, just to get a peek at what is going on in the social conversation.


IMG 1: Brand Hits refer to the Nissan LEAF, Competitor Hits to the Chevy Volt



It’s interesting to see they are both neck and neck as far as coverage, mentions of the two vehicles are with the Nissan LEAF having a slight edge, but that may be due mostly to the new ad campaign that is gaining some visibility internationally since it is creatively similar to a Renault ad running in Europe.





Sentiment is where the data gets a bit more interesting. Negative sentiment for the Volt is almost two times higher than it is for the LEAF, but that’s only half of the story. Positive sentiment is 34% higher with Volt than LEAF. What's this tell us? At least in social media conversation, Volt is a more polarizing vehicle meaning people are either defending it or criticizing it.

There are some rumors circulating around GM doing an all-electric Volt (GM has denied this.) It’s highly doubtful GM would use the same vehicle name (or even the same brand Chevy) to compete more directly with Nissan’s LEAF and Ford’s coming Focus EV. Like the hybrid market, the electric-vehicle (EV) market is sure to get very competitive and not be as simple as evaluating two primary competitors.

For now though, it is interesting watching these two solutions from two big brands battle for the hearts and minds of the green crowd as we move into the Post-Prius green vehicle movement.

Later this week I'll be sharing some of my personal thoughts on the Chevy Volt after driving one several days.

Thanks to Babar Bhatti from MutualMind for providing me with some great data. For more information, please contact:






Company: Mutual Mind
Website: http://www.mutualmind.com/

MutualMind is a social media management and intelligence platform that enables businesses to monitor as well as promote brands on social networks while providing actionable analytics and insights to increase social media ROI.

MutualMind offers a platform that allows users to aggregate and analyze feedback and conversations regarding their products or services on all of the major social media platforms. While many alternatives on the market today are limited just to listening or publishing, MutualMind’s has taken its value proposition further through the ability for users to actively engage with and manage the various social media outlets.

The functionality of this platform can be used for a myriad of business applications including: measuring market receptivity to products or services, tracking consumer or political sentiment, reputation/crisis management, generating sales leads, benchmarking versus competitors, and customer relationship management to name a few.


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Thursday, April 14, 2011

We're Talkin' Imported from Brampton, Ontario


I had a great time last week on the Adverve Podcast (Show #71: Autobahnned) hosted by Bill Green and Angela Natividad where we discussed quite an interesting blend of topics including Chrysler's Imported from Detroit campaign, the recent Buick NCAA integration, some stuff on what I do heading social media at AT&T, and to start it all off we talked local food and gas station tacos for half of the show (checkout my latest blog: http://www.gasstationtacos.com for more information about that.)

Please follow both of them on twitter and subscribe to Adverve on iTunes, it really is a great show and both Bill (@mtlb) and Angela (@LucktheLady) have a sharp wit and great perspectives on the marketing industry. I listen to their show often and can't recommend it enough.


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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl XLV Automotive Ads: She Said, He Said Analysis with Melanie Batenchuk



Last year I had such a great time covering the Super Bowl ads with Melanie Batenchuk from the BeCarChic blog that I had to do it again.

This year there was a ton to cover and fortunately some standout ads. I checked out Mullen and Radian6's Brandbowl project that measures number of Twitter mentions and sentiment to find out my two top picks made #1 and #2. So it was a great year for car commercials.

Now for our thoughts...

Audi “Release the Hounds”



HE SAID: Was the hashtag #PrestigeIs? Or #PackersIs? Or #ProgressIs? Does it really matter? Audi’s claim to fame this year was being the first Super Bowl ad to use a Twitter hashtag. I followed the hashtag content for a couple minutes after the ad and people …. But did @Audi even show up? They did. Here is one of the tweets they sent.

So how about the commercial? Horrible. Boring and Kenny G. What was that? It was so incredibly boring and after so many great ads from Audi in prior Super Bowl years. The only good line in the ad was the “hit him with the Kenny G” where the wealthy escapee is sidetracked by some soprano saxophone. Overall though the ad didn’t have the wit of Audi’s recent campaigns.

In an interesting side-note, Audi bought the YouTube home page banner the night of the Super Bowl, hoping anyone there searching for Super Bowl ads would checkout Audi’s too.

SHE SAID: Super Bowl advertisers definitely discovered the promoted Tweet this year. When it comes to Internet technologies, auto industry folks can certainly be a little over-zealous. Audi, while trying to be different, overdid it. I was bombarded by the same 140 character promoted tweet from Audi (including their #ProgressIs hashtag) every 15 to 30 minutes. It would have been more impactful had Audi actually engaged with its community tonight.

I disagree with Chris that the ad was horrible; however, I agree that the best part was “hit them with the Kenny G!” Audi cleverly used the imagery of bourgeois people stuck in their “luxury” cells as a way to show how having a luxury sedan (ahem, a Mercedes-Benz) can be perceived as being stuffy. Audi’s marketing efforts in the past few years have certainly driven their brand far from that stuffy feel, attracting younger buyers who yearn for a ride that’s both sporty and well-appointed.

BMW X3 “Defying Logic”



HE SAID: This ad had a lot to love but the one thing that bothered me was why the focus on America? The ad leads up to the “Designed in America. Built in America” line. I get it’s true and it is a good thing for our country, but people who buy BMWs want German cars, not American cars. Part of me wonders if this messaging backfires for the brand. Honda ran similar made in America ads for their Accords a few years back, but that was in response to the US auto makers claiming they were the job builders of the car industry, not the Japanese. So Honda responded as did Toyota too that they made cars in America that created American jobs.

BMW is a luxury car maker selling an image. Just imagine the horror of some yuppie being told their German car is a South Carolina car. So much for prestige (not that South Carolina is a bad place, but let’s be honest it doesn’t have the cache of German engineering and attention to detail.) Overall, it was a brilliant ad for South Carolina and the great workers of BMW’s factory, but from a brand perspective I just didn’t think it worked in the company’s favor.

SHE SAID: I think it's great that we have GM touting German engineering and BMW telling everyone they build cars in America. This message isn't for car enthusiasts, or even BMW enthusiasts. This message is for rural America - those who have been so loyal to "domestic" brands in the past because they were built on U.S. soil. The Big Three have eased up on this messaging as it has become common knowledge that many of their vehicles are built in Canada and Mexico. Perhaps this will break down some of those nasty protectionism barriers that the automotive industry has faced.

Hyundai did a similar spot last year, sharing the news of their plant in Alabama. I wish that Volkswagen had done the same for their Chattanooga Passat.

BMW Advanced Diesel – “Changes”



HE SAID: Bowie, BMW and Diesels. Is there any more win in a commercial? I think not. The chugging Volvo station wagon up hill blowing out black smoke was classic as was the truck driver coughing up diesel smoke. It was funny and reset a lot of the opinions regarding what a diesel car is today. Times have changed for sure.

SHE SAID: BMW took me back to my youth with this one. I reminisced of my dad’s old powder blue Mercedes Benz 300 diesel (much like this one: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mercedesmotoring/4082414816/in/photostream/) I hated the smell that it emitted and the way it rattled before it warmed up in the wintertime.

I think BMW was spot-on with connecting us to our old feelings about diesel, but I’m not sure they did enough to evoke new feelings. Those who reacted to the ad on Twitter did not seem to make a distinction between the diesel of the 70’s and 80’s and the diesel technologies of today.

Chevrolet “Bumblebee”



HE SAID: In full disclosure, I can’t stand the Transformer movies. They are so awful. That aside, I think the ad played well with its unexpected plot and poking fun at the absurdity of most dealership ads. Mascot, cheerleaders, and balloons all added to the mockery, but where was the giant inflatable gorilla or free hot dogs? Come on Chevy if you are going to make fun of your dealer ads, don’t forget the free food.

SHE SAID: I think this was the most action-packed ad of the evening. Poking fun at dealers’ local ads never gets old. The twist of the Transformers Camaro made me wonder if it was a Chevy ad or a movie trailer. I will say, however, that Chevrolet did the best job at showcasing its models – each of its ads included a different model and a different marketing spin. That was smart move on their behalf, especially considering where GM was as a company just two years ago.

But, more than anything, what I liked best about this commercial slash movie trailer was that Megan Fox was nowhere in it.

Chevy Cruze “Misunderstanding”




HE SAID: A brilliant and fun way to emphasize 42 mpg fuel economy on the all-new Cruze Eco model. With a lot of cars now doing 40 plus mpgs, I’m not sure how well it stands out these days, but it is a good message for Chevy and a creative way to drive a product benefit home.

SHE SAID: With so much emphasis on the young and sexy, it was fun to see Chevy use the humor of these cantankerous senior citizens. The ad succeeded in calling out the Cruze Eco model.

Chevy Silverado “Tommy”



HE SAID: Chevy takes a break from their heritage branding and borrows from some other Americana – Lassie. The Silverado becomes its own rescue saving machine. It was a decent ad, but like the rest of the Chevy (and Hyundai) ads it just wasn’t very memorable and the Super Bowl is all about being Super. Maybe instead of trying to do four ads during the game, maybe one really impressive ad – like Chrysler’s – would’ve been a better route to go.

SHE SAID: Chevy deepened its American-at-heart branding with this classic spin on the TV show we all loved. I think Chevy should have played out fewer storylines within the time constraints in order to make a stronger impression. If there was only one rescue story for viewers to follow from beginning to end, then that would have made it more memorable.

Chevy Cruze “Status”



HE SAID: Oh great now I can listen to my aunt complain about her day at work in a Chevy Cruze. Is this progress? Well at least the ad shows a cute way it is helpful; though, a successful first date didn’t involve a Facebook status update when I was young. Times change I suppose, in this case for the worse. The ad was cute but not very memorable or entertaining; though, it did garner some discussion about Facebook more than Chevy where I was at.

SHE SAID: Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Chevy’s Facebook status ad was adorable. That being said, I’m not sure it makes sense for Chevy to try to compete with Ford’s Sync technology this late in the game. I felt as if the Detroit car maker was saying “Hey, we can do voice command, too. Oh, and don’t forget social networking sites updates!”

Watching the Twitter conversation was interesting. There were numerous tweets about how having a car read its driver Facebook status updates does not eliminate distracted driving. I believe that drivers are going to text and check their social networks regardless of rules and regulations, so why not give them the tools to do it more safely?

Chevy Camaro “Miss Evelyn”



HE SAID: Chevy goes with the let’s run through every cliché and then ends with another cliché. Any ad that begins with “I got a great idea for… commercial” is going to be lame. It wasn’t interesting. The better Camaro spot was their placement of the Camaro convertible during the MVP ceremony after the game.

SHE SAID: I had fun watching the brainstorming process that goes into advertising play out in an absurd way. The ad was definitely clever…and I’m sure the guys didn’t mind having three or four beautiful women (blonde, brunette, red-head) to feast their eyes on. Right Chris?

Chrysler “Imported from Detroit”



HE SAID: After Eminem was earlier featured in Lipton commercial saying he doesn’t do commercials while in a commercial as a cartoon, the Chrysler spot showed up taking over a full two minute commercial break. It definitely won a lot of hearts and minds from what I saw on Twitter after it aired. A few people where even asking for an “Imported from Detroit” t-shirt (hear that Chrysler?)

It was a great ad from the agency that won AdAge Agency of the Year Wieden+Kennedy. So no surprise they knocked the adorable VW Vader out from being my favorite from Super Bowl XLV.

On the negative side, too bad they couldn’t of used a better car than a refreshed Sebring, aka the 200. The 300 would’ve been a much better vehicle with its stance and new lines. I’m sure Chrysler would’ve loved to have used the new 300 instead. Unfortunately it’s made in Brampton, Ontario and “Imported from Ontario” kind of deflates the ad’s impact.

SHE SAID: The crowd – both online and offline – overwhelmingly identified with Chrysler’s two-minute commercial depicting Detroit as the come-back city. Using Eminem solidified the automaker’s fight to survive hard times. Chrysler was smart to latch on to his tough-guy brand.

“Imported from Detroit” was definitely the most powerful ad (at least emotionally) of the Super Bowl. Unlike Chevy and Audi, Chrysler didn’t need to spend money on promoted tweets because everyone was still talking about the ad hours after it aired.
The longer length of the ad left me questioning why others don’t do the same and whether this could become a trend in the next Super Bowl.

Ford Focus “Focus Rally”



HE SAID: In the pre-game show, Ford premiered their Focus Rally commercial asking TV viewers to “Join Our Team.” It wasn’t very clear to me what join our team meant since it didn’t really say what a team was or why I would want to join a team. Perhaps that more complex message can be answered at the Focus Rally website. I wasn’t alone as I immediately saw this tweet showing the same confusion, hopefully for Ford people will take the time to find out and apparently they did as the FocusRally.com website was unavailable when I tried to check it out after the ad.

SHE SAID: I give Ford props for its attempt to use traditional advertising to spark a social media movement. The automaker prompted viewers to visit its microsite to learn more about the Focus cross-country rally contest. People can participate in this interactive race and even win a new 2012 Focus. It will be interesting to see how successful it is.

Hyundai Elantra “Sheep”, “Childhood”, “Hypnotized”, “Deprogramming”







HE SAID: I barely remembered any of these ads and had to go back on YouTube to refresh my memory. And no I didn’t drink a lot, I had two beers during the game and one was a root beer. “Harness your Spirit Animal” lacked the punch of Chrysler’s end tagline “Imported from Detroit.” The hypnotized ad was the freakiest of the car ads this year and lost me.

“Sheep” was the best of this bunch. It really made me look again at the design of the vehicle and this is a good thing as Hyundai’s Elantra is great addition to their lineup.

SHE SAID: Hyundai is clearly good at coming up with themes for its advertising. I thought that these ads were decent, but not memorable. I remember Jeff Bridges’ voiceover more than the actual commercials. I think I would have liked to see Hyundai’s thriller “Car Wash” ad in the Super Bowl in place of a few of the others.

On the other hand, the “sheep” ad wasn’t all that “baaaaaad.” (Sorry, I just had to do it.)

Hyundai Sonata “Anachronistic City”



HE SAID: The Hyundai ad wasn’t a Super Bowl debut, but it was fairly new and showcased their move into the crowded Hybrid segment. It’s a good ad but like many others it just missed the mark of making any sort of impact when everyone is paying extra attention to the commercials; instead, of fast forwarding through on the DVR.

SHE SAID: If Hyundai was attempting a comparison ad, I think they missed the mark. It would have been nice to see which hybrids they were lining up against the Sonata hybrid. I found the tagline humorous and memorable, but I didn’t remember that this ad was for a car. Oh, and how many people know the definition of “anachronistic?”.

Kia “One Epic Ride”



HE SAID: I’ve been in enough creative meetings to know this ad was one of those outrageous reach for the sky budget ads. That’s all glitz. Unfortunately, the Kia brand doesn’t get me thinking “epic” and this commercial only said to me that the creative budget was epic but that it did little to nothing to move the brand message. Too bad, because the Optima is a great car and over promising only hurts the positive accolades the car deserves. Instead no one saw why it is a major jump for the Kia brand since all we’ll remember, if we remember anythings, is the Poseidon-like water king.

SHE SAID: Kia debuted its 2012 Optima with this movie trailer-esque ad. The storyline was weak for me, and the dude in the helicopter reminded me of an older version of Speed Racer. I couldn’t quite grasp what Kia was selling here. Maybe it’s because I’m not sold on the fact that consumers are fighting over their vehicles. But I did like how it finished; incorporating the Mayans is never a bad thing.

Mercedes Benz “Welcome to the Family”



HE SAID: A very well done, though mostly unmemorable spot for Mercedes. Honestly any commercial with a 300 SL Gullwing is great in my book and with so many excellent classic cars it definitely peaked my auto geek interest. The only part that bugged me was the inclusion of a celebrity, in this case P-Diddy or whatever his name is this year, that seemed completely unnecessary and took away from the romance of the classic cars. Perhaps someone in marketing felt no one would pay attention if it only showed cars. They were wrong.

SHE SAID: Having visited the Mercedes-Benz museum in Germany last fall, I enjoyed this commercial because it displayed the automaker’s long-standing history. MB recently celebrated its 125th anniversary, and I think this ad paid homage to that accomplishment.

MINI “Cram It in the Boot”



HE SAID: Seriously? “Cram it in the Boot”? Plenty of room to cram? Nothing like some good old fashion butt sex humor to get the football watching Americans laughing. This was such a sad attempt at being sexually suggestive for cheap laughs, perhaps MINI figured if they ran this spot late in the game we’d all be drunk enough to laugh away.

SHE SAID: In MINI’s debut Super Bowl appearance, it put the game show spotlight on its new Countryman crossover. This was my least favorite auto ad. Any Brits out there care to enlighten me on the humor?
MINI does give us a good look at the vehicle. Although, I have to say, the styling of the vehicle is so similar to the MINI Cooper, that it’s difficult to tell the proportions and size difference of the Countryman on TV. I saw the vehicle in person at the Washington Auto Show. It’s quaint yet extremely sporty. Though I’m not sure how many “moms-on-the-go” will be driving it. I liked MINI’s pre-Super Bowl ad “Emergency” better.

Volkswagen “The Force”



HE SAID: Brilliant. The ad, not the car. The new Passat is a major disappointment but at least marketing is doing its best to salvage what is basically a slightly larger Jetta. As VW tries to cut costs in their cars to be more price competitive, they decide to do some rights licensing from George Lucas.

SHE SAID: Volkswagen won the hearts of Star Wars geeks everywhere with this one. The 2012 Passat ad was cute and appealed to pretty much everyone. As a dad to two young boys, I'm sure Chris can relate to this more than I can. The ad couldn't have been better; however, I would like to have seen an ad featuring VW's new plant in Tennessee, where they now build the Passat for the U.S.

Volkswagen “Black Beetle”



HE SAID: This year’s best commercial soundtrack goes to VW (best one in 2010 was Kia using “Do You Like Me Know” by The Heavy.) Jon Spencer Blues Explosion recorded the “Black Beauty” cover for the ad. It has great energy and the turbo boosted beetle with racing stripes was a nice touch, but to get the best experience for this spot go to YouTube. Volkswagen created a full YouTube home page takeover last week that is the better experience. Check it out now.

SHE SAID: Another hit by Volkswagen. It was unexpected, energetic, and personified a crunchy, black bug. What more could you ask for?


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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pontiac Resurrects from the Dead Tries to Sell Me a Buick



Last Monday afternoon I received an unexpected email. Seems Pontiac is back. Well at least the former Pontiac eNewsletter is back and it no longer has a new Pontiac to sell me, but someone at General Motors feels a new Buick Regal is the new GM's answer to Pontiac.

I suppose the Regal is the right answer, since it is trying to position itself as a sports sedan capable of reigniting "Excitement!"

It's an interesting play with Pontiac owners/leasees probably on the hunt for a new car and GM obviously wants to keep Pontiac owners in the family so with the new Regal there is a decent replacement for these customers.

The email also promoted service for Pontiac owners and a new mobile app available for 2011 Buick, GMC, Chevrolet, and Cadillac models. It will be interesting to see how or if the Pontiac eNewsletter will promote other GM vehicles or if it will try to move Pontiac owners to the Buick brand.


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Friday, November 26, 2010

GM's We All Fall Down Imagery Doesn't Fit



General Motors gave thanks this holiday week to the millions of taxpayers who helped bail them out last year. The timing of the ad is at least better than Chrysler's failed attempt at thanks in 2009 when they thanked people using a full page advertisement in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today right after they received the bailout money. At least, GM had the sense to wait for a thank you the week after they went public with their IPO and return to investor financing.

I see two desired outcomes GM wants from this particular ad. One to energize people who like the brand. Second is to get people to see GM has a fighter that didn't just lay-down after it got its money. They want people who have lost faith in GM to know the brand is getting up, not giving up and wants to be seen as a survivor and champion.

The imagery used in the ad is all about not giving up. It shows several historical and socially recognizable clips when it looked over, but the people in the ad did not give up and found the strength to win.

The biggest criticism I can see from the imagery used is that all if it showcases individuals who got back up using their own freewill and not through a helping hand. No one gave the boxer a 5-hour energy drink, shoulder massage and pep talk to rise up from the mat. Sure someone helped Evel Knievel up from his accident but he got back on the bike himself and kept going.

The Henry S. Truman image makes no sense. That was just the Chicago Tribune showing how low their opinion was of Truman. There was no falling down, just miscalculation.

Perhaps Popeye is the most relevant image as he gets his boost from an outside source - spinach. But unlike Wimpy, Popeye probably didn't have to borrow the money today with the promise of paying it back Tuesday. Cynics might think Wimpy was the better image to use..?

It would be interesting to see how they tested this ad. Did GM bring in people upset with the bailout or did they focus test against people open to seeing GM as independent again. My guess is more the latter. Perhaps it has a chance of getting people 'on the fence' to see GM as a fighter and survivor.

Personally, I think they are fighting the good fight. GM has not laid down and they are trying hard to win back public opinion. Unfortunately, this ad falls down in its ability to recycle history as a way to repair GM's image. Fortunately, their new products are giving them a true fighting chance.



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Monday, April 26, 2010

GM Markets Loan Payment News



At the end of last week, General Motors proudly announced they have paid off the $8.1 billion loans it received from the United States and Canada. To mark the momentous payoff that was made five-years ahead of schedule, GM followed the announcement up with a new TV commercial featuring CEO Ed Whitacre and an email to GM's customers or potential customers.*

GM had a rough last year after it went through two CEOs and a bankruptcy. Part of the bankruptcy has been a groundswell of people who are angry with GM's decision to ask for government money so it is no surprise the loan payoff announcement last week was big news to hopefully win back customers angered by the government handout.

But was it really a loan payment or simply "an elaborate TARP money shuffle," as Senate Republican Chuck Grassley claims?

The issue is in regards to TARP funds being used to make the loan payment last week. The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was designed mainly to give money to financial institutions in exchange for future equity that government hopefully can recoup in the near future. In GM's case stock shares are given as equity when the company goes public, possibly later this year. Basically, TARP is a loan against poor assets or to some a bet on future potential of the company.





Grassley and others think GM simply took $6.7 billion of its TARP money to payoff the $8.1 billion in loans it took. This is not sitting well with those who feel the company simply shuffled borrowed government money around to give the impression the government was paid back.

Of course, the email message above says nothing about TARP funds being used or that the government is still owed a significant amount of money it hopes to get some day from the equity the government know owns in GM.

Sorting this all out gets a bit complicated. According to the New York Times, "about $43 billion that G.M. borrowed from the Treasury has not been repaid because it was converted to a 61 percent equity stake in the company. That money can be recovered only through a public stock sale, which is expected no sooner than the fourth quarter."

So was this simply a government money shuffle and more importantly does it matter?

Looking at last week's news coverage and GM's email it appears the government has been paid back and GM can now rest nicely without a government debt hanging over them. Any questions regarding GM's debt can now be dealt with as GM has given the government equity in the future company which sounds a lot better than owing a loan.

I personally think the news went very well for GM and the email was a smart touch. The only issue is will people like Senator Grassley be able to make enough noise to cancel out the positive press?



* It's tough to say who received the email above, but I'm sure I did due to signing up on a vehicle site for updates or some other GM site that asked for my email. I am not an owner though.

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

My Presentation at Ignite Detroit



This isn't automotive marketing news, but it's still about automotive and it is some "social outreach" I participated in last February. So pardon a bit of my own self expression here.

For those who don't know what Ignite is, it is an International organization where events are held globally with people talking about any topic they have a passion for or want to share an idea, a love, or just want to express themselves through spoken word. To participate, one has 5 minutes to talk on any topic and do so with a slide deck that auto-advances every 15 seconds. Having done this, it's an interesting technique and definitely tests one's skills.

My talk shared how doing something simple like changing your car's oil can help conquer the fear of your car. In an age of massive electronics in engines full of sensors, wires, and tight engine bays doing something as simple as an oil change is a bit disconcerting to the average person; however, I share how this is a pretty simple process and helps remove fear of one's vehicle to hopefully inspire more complex automotive endeavors and hopefully turn fear of cars into a love for cars.

You'll have to pardon a bit of my early nervousness at the beginning as I mention I'm from the West Coast a few more times than I practiced. Overall, I had a blast attending and participating in this event. If you want to learn more about Ignite and possibly attend or present at an event in your city check out Ignite's website.

If you want to see some of the other presentations from the Detroit event, checkout the YouTube page here and don't miss General Motor's Social Media Director Chris Barger who also presented that evening on "Bang Your Head: What Hair Bands Can Teach Us About Being Better Businesses."

If you want to see my slides better, they are available on Slideshare.net for viewing or downloading, simply click here.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Competitor Websites Respond to Toyota Recall Woes



Toyota is gearing up for a March rebound with 0% financing and aggressive lease pricing after taking a 9% hit in year-over-year sales last February due to their very public recalls. Meanwhile everyone is trying to capitalize on Toyota's quality troubles. Late night sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live poked fun at Toyota's issues by putting two people in an unattended accelerating Toyota Prius with the fake ad saying "Ford: We make hybrids too."

Comedic marketing spoofs aside, it is interesting to see how Toyota's competitors are responding to the recalls at their manufacturer websites.

The strongest marketing message comes from General Motors. For example, their Chevy homepage features a promotion tile reading "Special information for Toyota owners/lessses" that is in the most prominent position in the promotion banner ribbon on the page (I say most prominent because users tend to click mostly on links to the far the left as American consumers read left to right.)

Ford also features a nod to the Toyota quality issues but in a more tempered way by promoting a quality claim the brand has been using since last year after a major quality report put Ford on par with Toyota and Honda. The message is more about Ford and less about their competitor Toyota. The promo reads "Learn more about why Ford quality can't be beat by Honda or Toyota."

The only other manufacture website I found promoting a strong quality message on their homepage is Hyundai. Hyundai uses an image from their recent Sonata campaign, "Hyundai Quality: Hyundai Held to a Higher Standard." This approach uses no competitor call-outs, but it certainly can be read as a strategic message to appeal to people cross-shopping Hyundai with Toyota.

The home teams in Japan - Honda, Mazda, and Nissan - make no mention of quality or Toyota on their home pages. Seems local support is strong for the time being.
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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Chevy Uses Location-Based Service to Lift Brand Perception



The Chevrolet team is down in Austin, Texas this week for the South by Southwest (SXSW) technology and arts festival. As part of Chevy’s marketing effort, they teamed up with location-based service company Gowalla (a competitor to the better known Foursquare) to create a nicely done driver service for those checking into the Austin Bergstrom Airport.

Basically, when one checks into the airport’s location on the Gowalla application some people are randomly served up a free ride from the airport to downtown Austin in a Chevy vehicle of course.

I really like the online, offline integration here. It definitely provides Chevy with some positive brand lift for the well-connected people attending the SXSW festival. It's a nice way to reach a socially active audience that is sure to Tweet, blog or even talk in person about what a cool thing Chevy and Gowalla did on their trip.

For one blogger’s personal experience with the Chevy Gowalla offer checkout this post from the blog DigitalBeforeDigital.

Crayon's Joseph Jaffe shares his impression of the Gowalla Chevy execution:

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Volvo and Chevy Take Very Different Roads



Volvo just wrapped up their very successful virtual road trip where online teams were to “drive” a C30 DRIVe from Sweden to Egypt. Each team member would “pass” the car on to the next participant who lived as close to 1,333 kilometers as possible, the number being the distance the car can drive on one tank. Friends were competing to be first to complete the virtual journey around the world in 80 days.

It was another example of six degrees of separation where teams were formed virtually using a network that extended beyond just the team member’s friends, but further to their friends’ friends. The teams competed to win to have 15,000 Euros donated by Volvo in their name to a wind farm project in Turkey. Not exactly the most exciting prize, however, it is a positive prize for those interested in more altruistic Facebook activities, which are very popular on the site.

A Success

"To be number 17 on the list of most installed Facebook applications and number one among branded is great and more than we ever expected", says Lukas Dohle, Live Communication and Social Media at Volvo Car Corporation in Gothenburg, Sweden. They had over 63,000 teams play the game. Of course, a team could’ve been just one person installing the application and doing nothing with it after the initial install. Even so, the application definitely reached a very broad global audience and lead to some great press coverage too.

What I really like about this example is that it found a way to integrate well within the Facebook community and by doing so it reached a lot of people who might have otherwise never become familiar with Volvo’s C30 product. The charitable element also works very well in the community and I’m sure led to participation from those not really interested in anything about a new car.

Real Butts In Seats Road Trip

"Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?"
- Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Another marketing road trip idea was announced a couple weeks ago from Chevrolet. It isn’t a virtual road trip; instead, Chevy put together 8 teams throughout the U.S. to compete in road trip scavenger hunts as teams travel to the popular South by Southwest (SXSW) music, film and social media event in Austin, Texas.


Named the “See the USA in a Chevrolet: A SXSW Road Trip” -- I’m hoping for a challenge to include Dina Shore or Pat Boone somewhere in the trip -- the teams will compete for social media views through Twitter tweets or other social media comments and views. Chevy has even setup a Posterous website to house the content developed along the way. They’ll also showcase the road trip using a feed on GM’s well-known Fastlane Blog.

This social outreach concept is developed around the idea that if you get enough influencers your marketing idea will develop a buzz around it that will extend beyond just the people participating in the road trip.

GM’s example is reaching out to social media influencers; mostly Public Relations and marketing professionals who have some decent connections on social media sites. Since the participants have significant social followings, the brand is counting on the buzz to build across the participants’ network and further to other networks that will follow along or participate (one form of participation right now is having people suggest what activities the teams should do on the trip.)

The Real Challenge: Relevance Beyond Participants

It will be interesting to see how the Chevy SXSW event develops. The hardest part is creating interest for those not participating in the event. There will be a lot of buzz shared by trash talking and co-promotion across teams, but will those not on the road trip care to share in the conversation?

The connection with the SXSW event should help extend the buzz beyond the teams, since the SXSW event attracts most of the social media elite who might help promote the Chevy road trip and this goodwill should increase interest just because some social media expert is talking about it.

It definitely is a strong event tie-in for a road trip that is meant to gain interest using social media tools and behaviors. Everyone can follow the teams using the hashtag #chevysxsw on Twitter and at the Posterous website Chevy is setting up for when it kicks off the week of March 8. I’ll definitely be following to see if it extends reach beyond just the participating teams.

Conclusion

It would be great to know how much Volvo spent or Chevrolet will spend promoting and implementing these road trips. Reach is definitely an important aspect of the road trip marketing idea. Getting people interested in participating on virtual teams or promoting real teams all add to the word of mouth of the projects and hopefully reach consumers who might never pay attention to a TV ad or online banner.

The important ingredient is making the events relevant to consumers. Volvo did that through a contest where a charitable donation was tied to the goal. The Chevy event will have a more difficult time extending the interest beyond those participating.

Here’s to viral magic whether it’s virtual or real.
“We had finally found the magic land at the end of the road and we never dreamed the extent of the magic."
- Jack Kerouac, On the Road
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

GM's Social Media Team Shows How Brand Experience Online Can Remedy a Bad Situation



When someone complains in social media they simply want be heard. They want to voice issues to their social network so that their friends can know what company or product to avoid; they may want resolution; or they may simply just want others to provide moral support.

Sometimes companies are listening and may even actively respond to a complaint. The past two days I witnessed a very public version of this when one of the people I have come to know in the automotive twitosphere (I swore I’d never use that dumb word, but just did) had an issue with a Chevrolet Equinox he ordered a couple weeks ago.

Dalibor Dimovski (@kewlrats on Twitter, Dali for short) explains his situation on Facebook better than I ever could:

"The vehicle was paid for in full on Feb 2nd as we were told this as needed to lock in the incentives. We were also asked to hand over our trade-in at that time. This past Monday we paid our first loan payment to our financial institution.

And all of this without receiving the car. (Still have not received it yet.)"



Obviously this was an issue at the dealer level, probably with a lot of promises and the buyer will get the car very soon from the already paid car salesperson and now we have a very frustrated customer who is unsatisfied with a brand; though, fortunately Dali is not Kevin Smith and kept his cool, but he was definitely upset.



Dali told me, "I was upset at the dealership buying process and excruciatingly long wait and faults, I found it extremely difficult to get an answer to my questions. This both stressed me out further and made me second-guess my purchase." Fortunately someone was listening.

Early in the process, Dali received some support from his network of fellow automotive enthusiasts.



The situation was spreading about Dali’s issue and spreading through a community of well-connected automotive friends. Fortunately, General Motors’ Social Media Team, led by Chris Barger (@cbarger), noticed there was a problem, as did some other employees GM has on Twitter. One very active GM employee Borger (@GMEmployee) caught this situation early and tried to correct the idyllic expectation created by Dali’s salesperson.



It didn’t end there. GM’s Social Media team continued to work on the problem reassuring him that they were actively working to remedy the situation as quickly as possible. The team also made sure Dali engaged with the proper channels like GM’s Customer Care team (@GMCustomerSvc).



Chris Barger further stressed that GM was committed, as a whole company, to make sure its customers needs are met. The actions taken online today demonstrated that care not only to Dali, but to everyone listening too.



Fortunately the vehicle was in at the dealership and the problem was remedied even if it did create some angst for Dali and his family, whom by the way recently had their first child, a beautiful baby daughter born last November.



The online experience extended into the dealership experience too. Dali shares, "upon walking into the dealership, I was floored by the response from my salesperson. He mentioned that he had heard about my updates on Twitter and was glad to have been contacted by the GM Customer Service team. The dealership did not realize I was that frustrated as I had always been patient and cordial in communication with them. They respectfully corrected the situation, making me an incredibly happy buyer in the end."

The resolution shows how effective social media can be in rapidly turning a bad situation around. What I personally like most about this example is that everyone was considerate to Dali’s issue and there was no grandstanding or over promising going on.

After a week of hearing about how much of a blowhard Kevin Smith is when he isn't happy with a company, it was great knowing not everyone is a jerk on Twitter when things go south.

One of Dali’s final tweets came late yesterday after he had finished picking up the car from the dealership and ending on a positive note. I’m sure it felt like a great day for the GM team, as a side effect it gave everyone in social media a positive example of how this social stuff works.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

AutoBird Podcast – Esp15: “A Better Tomorrow?”



I had the pleasure last Sunday to be the first guest on the Autobird Podcast. The Podcast is hosted by automotive bloggers Colin Bird (@Auto_Bird) and Joel Feder (@joelfeder) both of whom I've got to know through Twitter and when they have visited Detroit for various automotive events. Autobird covers automotive industry news, car reviews, and this last weekend we even talked about marketing.

This week covered the following topics:

* Chevrolet Malibu is a great car but sales disappoint?
* American Top Gear still Lives?
* Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring may get new names?

We then proceed to the clip of the week segment. This week we featured the Super Bowl commercial from Dodge – Man’s Last Stand

Last but certainly not least, we discuss our main topics. This week those topics included the Chicago Auto Show and Toyota’s a better tomorrow.

One last comment: The show image was done by Colin. He gets some sort of sick pleasure inserting people into ridiculous scenes. If you find the Photoshopped Caravaggio painting disturbing, you're not alone. The only saving grace is that Colin didn't put me in Muppet outfit like he has done to his co-host Joel.

Please checkout Joel and Colin's blogs too. They bring their own unique perspectives to the industry that are definitely worth a read.

Autobird Blog

Accelerate Minneapolis

You can listen to the show (I had a horrible Skype connection that was eventually fixed at around 33 minutes):




Download this episode (right click and save)

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Saturday, February 6, 2010

GM's Tweet Reach and Social Experiences



I was having a conversation the other day with someone about how effective it is to have everyone in your company Tweeting or if it made more sense to have one branded Twitter account. The discussion immediately made me think about a presentation I saw last November at the Social Media Club of Detroit from General Motor’s Director of Global Social Media Chris Barger (Chris' presentation is available here in its entirety.)

What I heard was GM’s strategy of getting many people from across the company involved in social media. “I would much rather have 400 people from General Motors out there in the organization with 150 followers each than ever want me with 40,000” stated Mr. Barger.

The made me wonder: Does that approach make sense? Isn’t it a bit inefficient to have 400 people on social media platforms communicating for the company?

Mass Twitter

Is there a benefit to having a mass of employees on a social networking platform like Twitter?

I’m not talking about people on Twitter for their own personal benefit. I’m talking about a corporate strategy to get people engaged online for the company’s benefit. There are two primary benefits to GM’s approach:

1.) Reach: Reach is the idea of extending your audience of listeners and participants. Some believe having many brand representatives extends the network of communications.

2.) Relationships: Each person from the company is a contact and that contact will create personal relationships that extend beyond a corporate branded Twitter ID like a @GMBlogs or @Chevrolet. A person personalizes the company.

Reach

Do you really need 10s or 100s of people representing a brand? This is not so clear.

Let’s look at GM’s common relationships across its many Twitter accounts. The graph below shows several of the company representatives of GM on Twitter and the percentage of common Followers with the @GMBlogs corporate branded Twitter account. A high percentage shows the personal account has little additional reach over the brand and is unnecessary if the purpose is reach, since followers are already engaged with the company.

What is also apparent is when someone has a relatively low percentage of overlapping followers. There are a few people this applies to.

Chris Barger (@cbarger): As the lead social media person for the company, Chris does a lot of outreach with bloggers, media, and social experts at many events across the country and those relationships extend his reach beyond someone who just wants to know the latest from GM.

George Saratlic (@George_S): George is the Canadian version of Chris Barger (I know I’ll get corrected on that oversimplification.) With a different country in scope, he naturally appeals to a somewhat different audience and like Chris Barger, is involved in a lot of events that extend his Twitter network.

Patrick Reyes (@patrickreyes): Patrick is not part of the Public Relations team. He does marketing for the Buick and GMC brands. His reach is a bit more broad probably due to his interest in social media discussions and personal connections in his interests less than the Twitter account being all about work. His profile also doesn’t talk so much about what he does for GM or if he even works for the company (he does) so that may be a reason for less overlap with the brand account.

Adam Denison (@AdamDenison) & Lesley Hettinger (@lesleyhettinger): Adam is the product communications lead for the hit Chevrolet Camaro and Lesley does the same job but for the Chevrolet Cruze. With two big product launches demanding a lot of attention these two brand representatives will appeal to the product followings possibly more so than the primary brand’s following.

"Immerse and Disperse"

Personalizing relationships is a very important aspect of social media. Many debates on this topic have led to supporting the idea that names behind a brand betters the connection, since there is a real sole person behind the brand instead of just a logo. Knowing a real person also presents a personal touch with a real face and common voice. Keeping it personal helps a lot with brand image on a platform like Twitter.

A lot of companies build a team of experts and go to them for all social needs in an organization. The approach of isolating your social media people to a dedicated group does “lessen the likelihood of really dumb mistakes,” according to GM’s Chris Barger. The problem: It also makes any learnings come from the social media expert and not from another engineer or marketing person. So the social media expert becomes a conduit for third-party feedback that may not be heard by non-peers.

GM is giving people a one-year assignment to get them engaged in social media, go to events, conferences and simply live social media. This expands the knowledge and increases the expertise across the organization. Chris’s approach is “about building a capability instead of just building up one or two people.”

Conclusion

I do find GM’s approach of getting many participating in social media a great way to expand the knowledge and understanding of this new communication method impressive. I have also seen first-hand how influencers in the automotive industry gravitate to different GM representatives which increases engagement and a relationship with the brand.

There is some inefficiency, especially with accounts where there is a lot of overlap in what is being said, like said image at left, and not a lot of additional information is getting out about the brand. That said, the benefit of having your fans and influencers establish personal relationships with representatives they develop an affinity for is strong enough to not be concerned with the redundancy. Just understand there is some inefficiency with the GM approach if the people do not have a clear distinction from the general corporate account.
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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Automotive Facebook Fans by Brand: January 2010


There is one clear leader in this month’s Automotive Facebook Fans by Brand report: Volvo. They ran some advertising campaigns developed for the Facebook platform. The first is one that’s been up a few months but was continuing to get some media dollars, Drive Around the World. The other is a lifestyle brand experience called Ice Camp that also has its own Facebook page.


The Drive Around the World has Facebook friends travel together as each friend takes over the drive like passing a baton in a race. Volvo will then donate 15,000 Euros to a charity that fights Global Warming. Obviously the game has broad appeal with the charity aspect and social enablement. Altogether Volvo saw a 421% increase in January fan numbers. Quite impressive though like many of the huge percentage changes we have seen they only started with 11,875 fans at the beginning of the month.

Most brands saw typical gains in January. GM brands saw a slowing down since backing off media spend on the platform, particularly Chevrolet and Cadillac (both had 50% gains in recent months), but this is typical and shows the difference between organic and media driven growth.

Zoom. Zoom.

Mazda saw a nice improvement this month. They also moved their Mazda North America page into the Mazda Facebook fan page which got rid of some confusion around how one follows the brand. The now retired Mazda North America fan page was more for Public Relations communications which seemed duplicative to the http://www.facebook.com/Mazda fan page.

Both MINI and Acura ran advertisements in Facebook that I caught during the month. The Acura one was for increasing fans of their ZDX vehicle page, not the primary brand fan page. Meanwhile MINI promoted their coming Countryman SUV. This shows that both brands are interested in further developing vehicle fan pages which to me seems odd since both are niche vehicles and it would be better to get consumers engaged more with the brand than an isolated product.

Toyota’s Public Relations Issue

Toyota is an interesting brand this month, not so much for its growth but it’s public relations fiasco with its faulty pedals on 8 vehicles. Currently, the Toyota fan page has a status update pointing fans to http://www.toyota.com/recall for information about the company’s response and updates. This shows that brand pages can act as another communication medium to keep consumers up to date on major announcements.

Brands be warned; one “fan” keeps posting a news video that discusses Toyota allegedly concealing and destroying information. That “fan” has posted the story five times with four posts having been deleted by the page administrators. He continues to post the story on the Toyota fan page wall. So, it works both ways and the brand should just let the post live since it is just a link to a news story and removing these posts might cause more of a PR issue.





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