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Showing posts with label VW. Show all posts
Showing posts with label VW. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Super Bowl 46 Automotive Ads: 3rd Annual ‘She Said, He Said’ analysis with Melanie Batenchuk


This is the Third Annual She Said, He Said with my good friend and fellow automotive blogger Melanie Batenchuck who writes at BeCarChic.

Overview This year’s Super Bowl was somewhat of a game changer for the auto industry. Much like the mood at the North American International Auto Show, the message last night was “We’re back! Now please buy our cars.” Twelve carmakers spread the ad love with 22 commercials aired before and during the big game. Hyundai and Chevrolet had the bulk of ads with four and three spots respectively, but that doesn’t mean they were the most memorable. Hyundai sponsored the kick-off pregame, where it aired two ads – one on the Elantra and the other on Hyundai’s 45,000 employees in the U.S. Toyota sponsored half time.

Needless to say, cars could be found in nearly every commercial break. And it seemed as if every car company was trying to out-do Volkswagen’s 2011 ‘Darth Vader’ ad, including Volkswagen, but none really achieved it. Honda’s Ferris Bueller homage was probably the closest to recreating the VW nostalgia among audiences.

#SuperBowl social media was everywhere The incorporation of social media was even more prevalent in this year’s Super Bowl. Last year, we saw the introduction of promoted tweets and hash tags, and SB46 included a plethora of such targeted advertising. While Audi and Acura added hash tags to the end of their commercials (#SoLongVampires and #JerrysNSX), others stirred buzz through promoted tweets and has tags.

There was even a legal spat between Ford and Chevrolet over the Chevy’s apocalyptic “2012” ad that specifically mentions a Ford truck driver ‘didn’t make it’ through the end of the world. A lawyer from Ford sent a cease and desist letter to General Motors on Saturday, February 4.


YouTube ruins ads for anyone paying attention If you’re like me, then you’re excited about the teaser ads companies release prior to the Super Bowl so you can get a taste of what is to come. All I wanted was a taste, but the week leading up to the big game left me drinking from a fire hose. Once an auto brand jumped off the YouTube bridge, the others tumbled like dominoes right behind. The pregame release of commercials can be fun if they aren’t the same ads aired during the game or simply share the beginning of the story and you have to catch the rest on TV.

The only car spot that we didn’t get a sneak peek at was Chrysler’s ‘Halftime for America’ ad starring the ever-gritty Clint Eastwood.

Now on to the good stuff… Below is the full ‘He Said, She Said’ analysis with Melanie for each automotive ad during the Super Bowl in the order that they aired. Enjoy our commentary and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Hyundai – Victory Lap Car featured: Elantra | Watch the Video

HE SAID: Another quick, simple idea with Jeff Bridges calmly delivering the punch line, must be another Hyundai ad? Not much to say here except I wonder if Hyundai could make a bigger splash by concentrating their Super Bowl ads into a single ad.

SHE SAID: Hyundai kicked off Super Bowl XLVI with a feel-good, patriotic ad aired during the pregame event. The familiar voice of actor Jeff Bridges told us it was a Hyundai commercial before ‘Stars and Stripes’ cued the adorable Elantra, this year’s winner of the North American Car of the Year.

Hyundai – All for One | Watch the Video

HE SAID: Hyundai went for short comedic spots, but for this one they shared how their corporate culture is one of supportive action complete with Rocky theme music. If I recall correctly, this ad ran between the coin toss and kickoff. The positive energy was fun but like many Super Bowl spots last night it didn’t generate much interest after its 60 seconds were up.

With only 70,000 views on YouTube, no one searched for and based on the comments a significant amount of Union Automotive workers didn’t feel inspired after non-union Hyundai factories were featured.

SHE SAID: The Korean-based automaker took this opportunity (and the ‘Rocky’ theme) to showcase its 45,000 employees in the U.S. and how the team at their Montgomery, Ala. Plant helps to make Hyundai the brand that it is today. Although the singing was a bit cheesy, I liked that this ad helped to dispel the myth that American cars are built only in Michigan.

Kia – Dream Car for Life Car featured: Optima | Watch the Video

HE SAID: Adriana Lima, Chuck Liddell, Motley Crue, and a stadium full of bikini clad fans… seriously what more do you want from a small automotive brand? It’s a fun ad with a lot of big production ingredients designed to hit all of the target demographic passions of its aspirational buyer.

SHE SAID: Kia plays up both men and women’s senses by giving us a look into their dreams with this outrageous ad featuring fairy dust, Motley Crue, a race track, a white stallion, and Adriana Lima (who made a second SB46 appearance for Teleflora). This one wins my award for ‘most fun’ out of the car ads. It pleased both male and female audiences and had a lot of great energy behind it.

Hyundai – Cheetah Car featured: Veloster Turbo | Watch the Video

HE SAID: Meh. They promoted this ad quite a bit using Facebook ads the entire week before the game. It too is highly forgettable and the concept while cute for a second lacks the fun of the other Hyundai spots like “Think Fast.”

SHE SAID: By now, I was ready to see an ad from someone other than Hyundai…and this wasn’t even their last installment. While the commercial was entertaining, I felt that stacking all of their ads so close together made it difficult for everyday consumers who were watching to differentiate between the company’s products.

Hyundai – Think Fast Car featured – Genesis Coupe | Watch the Video

HE SAID: Charming. When you can make a temporary heart failure charming, you know your ad has a great premise. This simple ad without a big name celebrity, Hollywood movie set, or show dog finds a fun way to message performance. It’s unexpected and gets a quick smile from the Super Bowl audience.

The ad is complimented by several online videos featuring the High-Powered Business Tips from the boss in the Genesis Coupe ad. Of course you’ll have to figure that out online and not from the TV spot.

SHE SAID: I had a small chuckle at this ad, mostly because it reminded me of a scene from my favorite movie “What about Bob?,” where Bob (played by Bill Murray) won’t wake up out of bed Other than that, it simply shows that the Genesis Coupe comes with good braking agility.

Cars.com – Confident You Watch the Video

HE SAID: If weird is your thing, Cars.com has an ad for you. Complete with Siamese bobbing goiter head.

SHE SAID: I really didn’t enjoy the Cars.com ad. Confidence doesn’t have to be so creepy. And it doesn’t have to sing either.


Chevrolet – Happy Grad Car featured: Camaro convertible | Watch the Video

HE SAID: And now for some MoFilms user-generated semi-professional videographer ad goodness that’s not from Doritos. The Happy Grad ad is great. A new sports car is something any grad would go nuts for if mom and dad presented such a surprise while still in a cap-and-gown. The reality of the graduate’s non-present is one we can all relate too.

SHE SAID: I didn’t really get this ad either. The parents really didn’t try to show their son the fridge. And who gives their kid a mini fridge for graduation? Much less one out on the front lawn….

Toyota – Connections Car featured: Various Camry models | Watch the Video

HE SAID: This is a continuation of Toyota’s personal stories campaign that’s been asking owners on social media to share their stories. It’s not a bad ad; though, like the Lexus ad it blends into the crowd. What’s missing here is personalizing the stories even more by showcasing the exact language from their owners and sharing posts the brand has received on the web.

“Connections” is similar to a lot of past ads by just about any car company. We all have a story to share from our car. Every car I’ve ever owned has some story. So having a personal story really isn’t that interesting so I’m doubtful this campaign creates any compelling positioning any against competitors. Sharing a story in and of itself is dull even if you do add a cute dog hanging its head out a window.

SHE SAID: Toyota tried to tug at your heart strings here , but I think this commercial would have been more effective as a regularly run ad. The Super Bowl is so cluttered with attention grabbing spots that trying to get people sentimental about their Camry’s a few adult beverages in, may not be the best approach (unless, of course, you’re Chrysler).

Fiat – Seduction Car featured: 500 Abarth | Watch the Video

HE SAID: I refuse to review this ad as a Super Bowl ad, it was launched last year and is not original to the Super Bowl. Granted it was the first time many people paid attention to the ad, even if they passively saw it before…

SHE SAID: This video was saucy to say the least. What can I say, sexiness sells. Any commercial that can get my husband to tweet that he wants to look at a Fiat 500 is a success in my book. Sorry dear, it doesn’t come with the model.

Audi – Vampire Party Car featured: S6 headlights | Watch the Video

HE SAID: A few people have asked me what do I think of the Twilight Audi ad. I felt it was more True Blood with the older vampires and cooler Echo and the Bunnymen soundtrack. Plus as one 20 year old reminded me they think Volvo when thinking Twilight vampires, since Volvo dominated in movie placements.

The whole Twilight, True Blood, vampire trendy thing aside the ad is a great example of taking a rather mundane product feature like headlights and making it compelling in an interesting way. Is it Super Bowl entertaining? Sure. Not every ad on game day has to have a dog or model (or soccer star) in underwear.

SHE SAID: This one actually made me laugh out loud, mostly because I’m not into all that Vampire stuff. Lots of people liked the funny ad and the hash tag they assigned to it (#SoLongVampires). This commercial was for those of us who aren’t in love with blood-sucking teen wolves. Unfortunately, the ad fell short of promoting a car. Who spends $3.5 million to advertise headlights?

Suzuki – Sled Car featured: Kisashi | Watch the Video

HE SAID: My choice for cutest dog ad goes to Suzuki for the Kizashi “Sled” commercial. It’s adorable heck even the human driver is adorable and isn’t that what great pet advertising is all about? Plus what else are you going to say about an All-Wheel Drive system that hasn’t been said or done twenty thousand times already.

SHE SAID: My first reaction was, “Suzuki has enough money to buy a Super Bowl ad?” After the initial shock, I then found this to be a witty ad. Glad to see the Kisashi get some love. Hopefully it’ll translate into some U.S. sales for the company.

Chevrolet – Stunt Anthem Car featured: Sonic | Watch the Video

HE SAID: One creative idea that always gets tiring is the “let’s break a world record or be the first at X.” You know the brainstorming has hit a wall when your creative team starts Googling to see if anyone has skydived a car before.

That said, it’s a well done version of a rather boring concept. Of course the well chosen music track "We Are Young" by Fun, ft. Janelle Monae helps dramatically.

SHE SAID: Many of my friends really liked the adventurous spirit of the Sonic ‘stunt’ ad. I thought it was pretty rad and catered to the X-games demographic. I’m not running out to get a Sonic anytime soon (because I still think it’s a glorified Aveo), but others have recommended the sporty compact.

Bridgestone – Performance Football Watch the Video

HE SAID: More tire tread balls. I'll give them an A for consistency and a C for maintaining anyone's interest.

SHE SAID: Much like the Patriots’ final play, this ad from Bridgestone was a great idea but was poorly executed. (Sorry, Pats fans.)



Lexus – Beast Car featured: GS | Watch the Video

HE SAID: Nice grille. Now is a good time to go get another beer before the game comes back on.

Honestly, it’s a good update to a rather bland design and in person I love the new GS I saw at the Panasonic booth while at CES last month, but this ad is entirely forgettable and nothing is worse than a forgettable Super Bowl commercial you just paid $3.5 million for.

SHE SAID: I actually liked the teaser ad better because it created some suspense and excitement. I would have like to have seen an extended version that showed the some of the performance aspects of this Lexus classic.

Cadillac – Green Hell Car featured: ATS | Watch the Video 

HE SAID: Another 3-Series challenger. Welcome Cadillac, join the crowd and thanks for the cliche track porn driving around Nuremberg. Can we all agree as an industry that Nuremberg shall never be used in another ad campaign or PR stunt? It's as overplayed as Tim Tebow Internet memes.

SHE SAID: Sorry, but just because you hired German engineers and flung it around the ‘Ring doesn’t mean it’s a BMW beater.


Bridgestone – Performance Basketball Watch the Video 

HE SAID: Sleeping baby for the win! Not sure how a bouncing tire tread basketball on a wood court is similar to a pothole filled Michigan road on 19” performance rims, but I’ll admit I’m over thinking this one. Maybe it’s just because I don’t really care to make the connection between basketball and a tire’s quietness.

SHE SAID: Yawn. Nobody wants to hear about tire treads, we want to see it in action. Give us performance!

Honda – Matthew’s Day Off Car featured: CR-V | Watch the Video

HE SAID: One of my favorites as long as you overlook the sad notion that every child of the 80s high school playing-hooky idol ends up in middle-age driving a Honda CR-V. Then again many do end up in a basic, but nice car like a CR-V. Nothing is wrong with that except most of us remember the car aspect of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off as the beginning of collective our lust for a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California.

Of all the Ferris Bueller film moments in the ad, it’s not surprising we don’t see Broderick telling us, “if you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up” about the CR-V.

Oh well, it was great seeing a character we all loved return; though, Honda’s teaser made several think a new Ferris movie was coming, not another Super Bowl car ad. Guess we’ll all have to continue waiting for the full feature film of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off from Work coming to theaters in...?

SHE SAID: Ferris Bueller lives!...and he drives a CR-V. I liked how Honda brought back pleasant memories from a movie almost everyone over the age of 25 can remember (did I just age myself?). They did a great job recreating scenes of the original flick in such a short amount of time. Not sure anyone will be running out to by a CR-V, but there is a Facebook group pining for a sequel!

Acura – Transactions Car featured – NSX | Watch the Video 

HE SAID: This is the ad that crashed Acura’s website after it aired. I’m not surprised. Not because of the Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno celebrity effect. Nope. The reason everyone was rushing to Acura’s website was to see if they could afford the return of the much anticipated NSX!

What a beautiful car and a fun way to build excitement for the limited production release. Make a game of being first and isn’t being the guy on the block with the coolest car in the garage satisfy one of our most primitive desires? Plus this is one of the more believable celebrity fights to be first to own a car. This is the game of wealthy car enthusiast comedians than your typical Super Bowl viewer.

SHE SAID: The NSX lives!! And it’s really coming to production this time! I heart Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno. This would have been my favorite ad if it didn’t get released before the Super Bowl.

Volkswagen – The Dog Strikes Back Car featured: Beetle | Watch the Video

HE SAID: Star Wars has gone to the dogs. I ended up playing a drinking game with fellow #BrandBowl tweeters. Simple concept. Dog in ad = Drink. Thank you Volkswagen for the help.

SHE SAID: Well, well, well. VW actually released a teaser video and THEN a full Super Bowl ad that was loosely tied in with it. What a concept! This was a fun-loving bit that anyone could enjoy. Wait, is that the dog driving the Forester in that Subaru commercial?

Toyota – Reinvented Car featured: Camry | Watch the Video 

HE SAID: Some of the concepts here were cute and others confusing. Unfortunately the Camry didn’t look reinvented. It takes a pretty keen eye to see what Toyota has changed on the car this year. And with a typical evolutionary, not revolutionary change the concept of this ad falls short. 

Also what's with the time traveling baby that doesn’t poop and when it rains you lose weight? Neither seems desirable, except the no pooping part.

SHE SAID: I would definitely want to reinvent the DMV experience. The only thing missing in this ad and the other spot by Toyota was how they reinvented the Camry.

Chrysler – It’s Halftime in America Car featured: Various models | Watch the Video

HE SAID: I call this the Anti-Mitt Romney NY Times Op Ed Article Commercial. Sure it lacks the ring or sentimentality of It’s Halftime in America.

For a second year, Chrysler goes for the emotional up by our bootstraps brand messaging, but this time uses Dirty Hairy and fosters the strength of all of America, not just Detroit. It’s gritty, dark and strong just like last year’s ad but with a broader appeal.

Like the VW Star Wars ads, the Chrysler spot basically borrowed from last year’s success without an original idea. Instead it was more about building on prior success using a similar concept.

It’s not that I don’t like the Chrysler spot. It’s good. It’s just that I sort of saw it last year with Eminem and no offense to Clint Eastwood, but last year’s version was better. Besides I felt it was also so negative. Almost a view of America that is about 3 years old especially after seeing the improvements in the Unemployment rate and reduced fear about a massive recession; though, I’m by no means suggesting this economy is all fixed.

SHE SAID: This ad left me chanting, “Clint Eastwood for President!” For the second year in a row, Chrysler has seriously tugged on the heartstrings of Detroiters and Americans. There’s no one better to send the message of America’s true grit than Clint Eastwood. Although many people found this to be too politicized, I think it’s well timed. I liked how the ad didn’t showcase one car but rather bits of various Chrysler brand vehicles. Oh, and my favorite part of the ad? I didn’t see it before it aired!

Chevrolet – 2012 Car featured: Silverado | Watch the Video 

HE SAID: My favorite ad by far. I’m mainly happy to see the end of the world is less depressing than Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Now there is a lot of controversy sounding this ad today after Ford raised several issues with Chevy’s claim of their product not surviving the fake-pocalypse, but that’s an issue for PR and legal.

As an ad, it is well done and a great touch with Twinkies surviving the apocalypse for a bonus comedic effect.

SHE SAID: Drama! The ad was great, don’t get me wrong. I just think that it would have had a stronger impact if Chevy didn’t single out Ford in such a negative way. After all, Ford isn’t the only other automaker competing in the truck market. Disclaimer: The author of this post provides strategic communications services for organizations that represent the auto industry, including many of the car manufacturers featured in this blog post. The views expressed in this post are solely the author’s and were not solicited by any third party.
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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Pregame Buzz



Last year Volkswagen had quite the viral hit with "The Force" Super Bowl ad.  Of course, many forget that hit required some media spend to drive awareness about the commercial before the big game. Volkswagen did several paid media placements including the homepage of YouTube.

The awareness raised by advertising assisted sharing dramatically, but mostly sharing worked because "The Force" ad was brilliant with its adorable use of Star Wars encapsulated in the eyes of a little boy playing Darth Vader.

This year everyone is replicating VW's strategy to viral success. Ads are showing up everywhere promoting Super Bowl commercials.  Facebook ads. Promoted Tweets. YouTube homepage takeovers. Emails promoting the ads.

Here is a list of the Super Bowl commercials having some pregame advertising to drive YouTube video views along with how many views they received as of Saturday morning February 4. Each ad had it's own amount of advertising dollars supporting it.


We'll all see a year from now if one of these ads can attain the viral dominance of VW's "The Force" which has 50,014,879 views after a year on YouTube.

Acura "Transactions"
12,417,801
Honda "Matthew's Day Off"
10,913,584
Audi "Vampire Party"
3,468,337
VW "The Dog Strikes Back"
2,984,829
Toyota "It's Reinvented"
1,601,559
Chevy "Happy Grad"
1,243,390
Chevy Sonic "Stunt Anthem"
465,503
Hyundai "Cheetah"
452,094
Cadillac "Green Hill"
199,803
Lexus "Beast"
140,886

For a full review of the automotive Super Bowl ads, stay tuned as Melanie at the BeCarChic blog and I will be doing our 3rd Annual She Said, He Said Super Bowl Automotive Ad Review.
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Monday, January 30, 2012

Ferris Bueller Grows Up and Drives a Honda CRV



Honda has released its full Super Bowl CRV ad featuring Matthew Broderick as a grown up Ferris Bueller. The video is at 307 views right now. I'm guessing it will be over a million before the end of the day.

The trend of releasing your Super Bowl ad a week or so before the big game was one VW did last year with their child Darth Vader "The Force" ad (now at over 49 million views.)  By the time the Super Bowl kicked off, the online video had over 4 million YouTube views with no media driving to the commercial, everything was simply online buzz.

Like the Darth Vader ad, the Ferris Bueller ad appeals to the nostalgia of GenX consumers who are definitely the key buyers of CRVs (and VW Passats too.) So if you are going to go big with your nostalgic movie rights ad buy, the Super Bowl is the platform to do it at.

Also, look forward to next week's post where I'll be doing the Third Annual She Said, He Said Super Bowl Analysis with Melanie Walker Batenchuk over at the BeCarChic blog.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

The Germans Wish You a Happy Holidays



Everyone is doing their take on the Holiday celebration. While Lexus ties giant red bows on IS sedans, the German car companies are celebrating the holidays in a variety of ways. Volkswagen had some fun with their Facebook fans asking them to share their favorite VW-Themed Holiday photo.

 BMW is having fun featuring the new M5 that is on its way to the US soon. They decided to create "The Fastest Christmas Card in the World" where they sit an illustrator next to performance driver Urs Inauen, or "swiss stuntman" as his website refers to him.


The ad is a great example of appealing to your target audience with some custom web content. It's a simple idea: new M5 + race track + holiday = a ridiculous mess.





Mercedes-Benz created a 17 red car salute celebrating Christmas in their latest ad with an all red display for the holiday. Unfortunately, they don't make a red G550 so they shared the red peel coat paint job the marketing team needed to complete the red lineup. The video shows the excitement that goes into painting a SUV. If you don't have time to watch the video just imagine 10 seconds of Pimp My Ride without 40 speakers and gobs of fiberglass.




Audi decided to mock holiday tradition this year with its ad featuring boomer parents taking their son's new Audi A6 for a joy ride right as he arrives home.

 It's a bit dull and lacks some of the fun of recent Audi ads, but this critique seems a bit harsh though I do get the blogger's point. Christmas is about family, not superficial opulence. It is a luxury car ad so opulence is expected.



What are some of your favorite holiday ads from the automotive industry, past or present?
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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Toyota "Force"



I'm sure many of you remember Volkswagen's "The Force" Super Bowl commercial. If you do not, you can read about it here. You know you made an ad that resonated with the public when you get some parodies on YouTube. The best one by far is this Toyota example that brings a bit of automotive recall hijinks to the mix.

Enjoy.

Credit goes to @CGawley's blog post. Thanks Cameron.


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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

Luxury Site Offers Cheap 2011 VW Jettas



Luxury retail discount site Gilt is selling a few 2011 Volkswagen Jettas for the low, low price of $5,995. That's right, as part of the launch of the new Jetta, VW partnered with the luxury online retailer to help gain some awareness with the stylish Gilt customer base.

If you don't know what Gilt is here is some information from their website: "Gilt Groupe provides invitation-only access to highly coveted products and experiences at insider prices." Basically, the site (and new mobile application) offer discounted clothing, home goods, travel and its first ever car for sale. Brands are high-end labels - think Neiman Marcus or Saks Fifth Avenue customers on a budget.

The purchase experience is very similar to American Express when they offered a BMW Z4 for $5k in 2004 during their My Life My Card promotion. Like the American Express offer, the VW sale requires some quick clicking since only 1 lucky person a day for 3 days will get the deeply discounted price.

Overall, it's not a bad way to generate some awareness for a new car launch beyond a typical media buy. Plus the Gilt Group's exclusive audience (yes, I've been a member for a few years now) fits the VW Jetta target enough to warrant interest whether the Jetta shopper is looking for himself or one of their kids.


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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Automotive Facebook Fans by Brand: October 2010



BMW continues to rack up Facebook fans quickly. They were near 3 million fans at the end of October and a now over 3 million as of early November. What’s interesting isn’t BMW’s continued rapid growth nor is it Audi following close behind; instead, what’s interesting is another German luxury marquee has decided to play the Facebook fan game. Mercedes-Benz grew an astounding 65% in October and surpassed their own first million-fan milestone.

This month Lexus and Toyota both redid their profile images to include additional messaging. Lexus is cross-promoting their Twitter and YouTube accounts while Toyota takes a page from Dunkin Donuts, but with their own twist by featuring a fan’s vehicle. Toyota is also promoting a new shopping application for mobile phones called mLot.

Some brands kept up their brand page marketing as Cadillac continued to run reachblock ad units featuring their new Cadillac CTS Coupe that drove fans to the main Cadillac fan page. Volkswagen also promoted their brand fan page. The VW ad units featured the new Jetta that launched last month. What was interesting is that VW used to promote vehicles and bring people to their vehicle fan pages, not the main VW fan page. Seems they are making a change and focusing on the main fan page, not surprising as most of the action is on brand pages not vehicle pages.


Also interesting is quite a high number of fan pages seeing 20% plus growth in one month. Several of the brands didn’t seem to have ad units running in October yet they experienced some rapid growth typical of buying media.




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


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Sunday, March 7, 2010

VW Banner Brings the Inside Out


Everyone wants to convince you their small vehicle feels big inside. With car companies moving to more B and C class segment platforms to appease the desire for more fuel efficient cars in America, the marketing must find creative ways to illustrate, through images or words, how roomy all these new small cars really are, even if they are not. Americans like big and small products still need to be sold as such.

One interesting example of creatively showing a "huge" interior from a small car comes from BBDO for their client Volkswagen. The ad markets the VW Fox (not available here in the United States) with the car's interior being pulled inside out to reveal the interior in an interesting fun way.

The banner uses a slider that changes the car from the beginning to end frame shown in the image above. You can also play with the banner at BannerBlog here.

It is a clever execution and maybe there is a way to use this technique in a more interesting way to communicate a vehicle's inner beauty as I feel it isn't really that effective at communicating the interior as roomy or "huge" as the ad copy reads. It is playful, but does one really get the idea the car has decent dimensions inside? Not quite.
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Monday, March 1, 2010

Automotive Facebook Fans by Brand: February 2010



It’s been a very interesting month on Facebook for the automotive industry. A lot of companies are getting more aggressive with their marketing efforts and showed up with some decent spend promoting their brand fan pages in February, the Super Bowl happened, and Toyota is in a tailspin.

Marketing For Fans

Several brands did “Facebook Fan” campaigns. Fan campaigns are ad unit buys that typically show up on the Home News Feed page of Facebook in the Sponsored section between Suggestions and Events content. The ad units feature a “Become a Fan” button that allows people to easily fan a page without even having to visit it.

Dodge ran the most significant Fan campaign in February. They most have bought a full month of ad units, only the third time I’ve ever seen a brand do such a thing (VW and Honda being the other two.) Dodge ran ads featuring two messages. One featured their Super Bowl video “Man’s Last Stand” and the other linked to the Dodge Fan Page tab talking about their Super Beard Contest.

Mazda also bought several weeks of Fan ad units in conjunction with their Mazda 2 vehicle launch. The ads asked users to “Join the Movement.” The ads did not feature a vehicle image; instead, the unit was a blue-on-blue checkered flag with a small Mazda logo. Very little branding in the units but Mazda had a significant percentage jump in Facebook fans, a whopping 568% growth in February. Could it have been more with a stronger logo or did they gain more with less branding? Tough to say, but Mazda definitely attracted a strong number of fans with their buy.

It’s hard to say whether Dodge or Mazda did better with their marketing buy on Facebook without knowing impressions bought and how targeted the buy was. Percentage wise Mazda did far better than Dodge’s 126% growth, but Dodge had a much higher starting number of fans. Dodge grew by 36,000 fans versus Mazda’s 18,000 fans or two times the growth in numbers over Mazda.



Volkswagen did a little bit of marketing in February too to further promote their PunchDub Super Bowl ad. They only ran Fan ad units for either a day or few days after the Sunday following the game. The ad units also included the Super Bowl commercial they did.

Ram Trucks and Acura both did marketing buys too, but nothing that significant. Acura saw growth of 10,000 fans but that probably didn’t involve much of an ad buy with targeted marketing spend and some fan growth due to organic increases; though, the 185% growth number shows they did accurately reach their fans.

Let’s Talk Toyota

This morning as I was finishing this article an article showed up on AdAge about “The Cult of Toyota” and how since the recall Toyota fans are rallying to the brand with a 10% growth in fans since the recall announcements that started at the end of January.

From the article:

“According to Doug Frisbie, Toyota Motor Sales USA's national social media and marketing integration manager, the automaker has actually grown its Facebook fan base more than 10% since late January, around the time of the marketer's Jan. 21 recall announcement and its Jan. 26 stop-sale date.

“In fact, Mr. Frisbie said the automaker has been somewhat surprised by the large number of customers who have leapt to Toyota's defense in ‘an authentic way.’

“That's a testament to the resilience of the brand, but also to Toyota's ability to quickly pick up one of the most important tools in a crisis-communications handbook: social media.”
First of all, the number is 15% in February, but that’s not my issue with the assessment.



If we look back at Toyota’s growth in fans month-by-month we notice two things. One, they have doubled their percentage growth of fans gained from 7% to 15% from the January to February. So, AdAge is right the brand is attracting more fans since the recall so the recall must be the reason. Maybe not if we look at what else stands out in the data – they grew even more in November 2009 yet there was no recall then nor did they market for fans that month.

I would argue one couldn’t really account any surge in fans due to the recall. This is only four months of data and it is not clear what a typical growth in fans is for the brand. It looks to be somewhere around 11% on average so a 15% gain in one month really isn’t that significant especially when you consider how many other brands not marketing and not going through any major PR issues are also gaining fans in the double-digits.

One of the interesting things about doing this monthly "Facebook Fans by Brands" report is seeing how the spin is done to showcase things that seem unusual to the casual observer, but are really not. What would be interesting with the Toyota situation is to evaluate the brand’s conversations on its Facebook fan page since the recall. Now that might show something unusual or interesting.

A Couple House Cleaning Items

Suzuki decided to move their Facebook automotive content to a new Fan Page for Suzuki Autos that did cause some dip in their numbers since my prior calculations were using a more broad Suzuki Fan page that encompassed all of the brand's vehicles including motorcycles and recreational products.



Finally, I have been tracking Scion's brand page for quite sometime but just learned this month, when the fan page was updated with information about it being an Unofficial Fan Page, that it is not managed by the brand. Also, the page received a new friendly URL http://www.facebook.com/UnofficialScion. So, I have removed Scion from the report since they currently do not have a Fan Page for the brand; though, they do have one now for their Release Series vehicle line.
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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Punchy Campaign from VW Complete with Foul-Mouthed Senior Citizen



Volkswagen’s new advertising agency Deutsch is proving it can be as irreverent as Crispin Porter & Bogusky with their first ad campaign for the VW brand featuring a foul-mouthed senior citizen named “Sluggy.”

What's this all about? It's derived from the game of "Punch Buggy." Punch Buggy supposedly started in the 1960s and according to Wikipedia is "a car game generally played by young children in which participants lightly punch each other in the shoulder upon first sight of a Volkswagen Beetle while calling out 'Slug bug!' or 'Punch buggy!' in reference to the Beetle's nickname, the Bug."

Sluggy is fabricated as the person who started the game of slugging a person every time a VW passes by. It goes something like this: If a VW car, of any model or year, drives by you get to punch a person. Hopefully, the person being punched understands what you are doing and no one loses a tooth.

Sluggy's Videos, Tweets and Blog Posts

The videos are definitely entertaining. The concept reminds me of a popular cultural icon on Twitter called @ShitMyDadSays that features quotes from a curse ridden old man who makes outlandish comments about life.

The game comes with some rules developed by Sluggy with a companion blog and Twitter account (@SluggyPatterson) to assist people who want to learn the game. Rules include where to hit a person, three hits when seeing a VW with Hawaii license plates and many other tips for extending interest in the game.


Making the game real with evolving rules and the ability to ask questions that may spawn more rules is an excellent way to extend the online experience. First of all, it brings life to the game for people who want to play. So watch out if someone slugs you as a VW Jetta drives by.

The use of social media to ask questions, clarify rules and interact with the personality of the concept is interesting and better than most of the social media campaign outreach we usually see in the automotive industry. Here VW can have conversations with fans of the campaign instead of just simply pimping the website or YouTube video links. There is a natural conversation that exists with this idea and it lends itself well to platforms like Twitter and Posterous.

Obtuse Online Media

One area that could use some work is in the online media marketing of the campaign. I found the campaign from a banner ad on Yahoo! mail. The ad had the confusing message of "PunchDubDays" with a circle and a fist next to the text and copy saying "We're taking a hit for you."

The campaign’s message is a bit difficult to comprehend. Perhaps it's designed to be obtuse as a way to get people to learn more about PunchDubDays, but this seems weak compared to doing something a bit more playful in the ad placement. Creating some visual interest instead of the logo and campaign headline might be more compelling to draw people into the fun of the concept.

Other than the minor messaging issue, the campaign is well executed in the social space, it taps a cultural trend of listening to old men with no filter, and the writing in the videos is stronger than VW’s sister brand Audi’s Green Police campaign.

Campaign website: http://www.vw.com/sluggy/

Twitter account: http://twitter.com/sluggypatterson

Blog: http://sluggy.posterous.com/
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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Top 10 Automotive Marketing Efforts of 2009

Well here it is my take on the expected, every blog and news source is doing it - Top 10 List. I looked at marketing efforts across TV, print, events, and digital to come up with ten U.S. marketing implementations that caught my eye. They did for a variety of reasons and yes I know the list isn't perfect and I could have added or removed some things in here.

I also would've included more Ford, Lincoln and Mercury efforts but did not do so because I didn't want to come across as being too self-promoting, besides, others will certainly talk about some of the great stuff we did this past year; though, there was one marketing event I just couldn't avoid talking about.

The Top Ten:


10. MINI Motor-Tober (link)



I had a hard time finding ten automotive marketing efforts that really stood out in 2009. A few efforts really standout while other ideas could exist in a Top 10 list or not. This set of banner ads from MINI during the month of October really impressed when few were able to capitalize on a particular holiday. In fact, many of the holiday ads right now are so uninspiring: red bows, snowflakes, and snow-caped mountains. Yawn.

Last October MINI got it right by running several banner ads that played on the “face” of the MINI Cooper’s front fascia. Their campaign extended across mediums into TV, national radio and of course online. The ads show how an automotive company can have fun with holiday-focused campaigns while maintaining the brand’s integrity and spirit.

9. Audi BMW Billboard War (link)



If you are a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that I’m a bit of a BMW fan. I’m honestly trying to stay as objective as possible and almost didn’t include this bit of copy-writing back-and-forth, but it caught the attention of a many online and even the New York Times.

Audi ran a billboard in Southern California reading “Your move BMW” with an image of their very impressive A5 coupe. The local BMW dealership, Santa Monica BMW, retaliated by buying the billboard across the street reading “Checkmate” with an image of the new BMW M5 coupe. Audi soon answered back by changing their A5 billboard to a R8 with the lame less effective "Time to check your luxury badge. It may have expired" billboard, but by this time the joke was over and BMW had clearly won the copy-writer race.

What this demonstrates is how foolish ads are when you bring in your competitor. By acknowledging BMW, the Audi A5 ad had made it easy for BMW to mock the comparison. Even without the mocking billboard, BMW still won because Audi was running an ad that made you think, “what does BMW have that has Audi so concerned?”

This is an approach similar to what GM is doing with their “May the Best Car Win” campaign and with the Buick LaCrosse campaign that is very openly challenging Lexus. I’ve heard several podcasts, read many articles, combed quite a few forums and what seems to be happening is that Honda and Toyota owners are all laughing at GM for making small 1 or 2 MPG wins over a competing Honda or Toyota model only to reinforce their current ownership decision because the real win is resell value and long-term quality. If anything, the GM spots are causing Honda and Toyota owners to mock the GM ads in similar fashion BMW mocked Audi.

The Audi BMW billboard war was just a lot more fun and showed how something as simple as a few well-placed words on a billboard can be more viral than any overly thought out video or social media campaign.

8. Volkswagen Meet the Volkswagens (link)



This is a fun ad campaign that incorporated the data from someone’s Facebook profile. It “illustrates the future of database-driven ‘smart ads,’” according to Rick Mathieson, the author of The On-Demand Brand.

The application did some basic word matches to determine which Volkswagen would be best for the person’s data it was analyzing. It was a simple, interesting way to connect a consumer with a VW product that they may not have considered. I think what was most interesting is that the application showcased how Facebook data could connect with a company’s products in a non-intrusive way.

Unfortunately, the application never said why a Passat CC is right for me. But if I was going to buy a VW it was pretty spot-on, proving someone knew what to look for on my profile.

7. Subaru WRX STI Gymkhana Two Project
(link)



Ken Block, a world-class rally racer, showcases his rally Subaru in this video which promotes his company DC Shoes partnered with Subaru for the Gymkhana Two Project. The British auto enthusiast show Top Gear even picked up the Ken Block buzz when they had Ken showcase his rally skills on a recent episode.

This video is quite possibly the best cross-promotional marketing I’ve seen. It gets it right for Subaru, DC Shoes and Ken Block.

What makes this effort so captivating is how seriously cool the stunt is and how it caught a significant buzz on the web. To date, the video has over 9 million views! Now that’s how viral video is done. Admittedly the video showcases the DC Shoes in the video’s beginning but it certainly demonstrates how uber cool a Subaru can be too.

6. Honda Insight Gig Ad (link)



The best line in the Honda Insight campaign is “the Hybrid for everyone” line. It quickly separated the Insight from its costly competitor the Toyota Prius. Unfortunately, the product positioning statement in the ads didn’t give Honda the boost they needed. Most of this is due to a poor product, not poor marketing. The product couldn’t compete with the MPG King, the Toyota Prius. Plus the Insight suffered from too much of a me-too Prius design that was based on the outgoing model, making it look even more substandard once Toyota launched its much sleeker redesigned 2010 Prius.

That said, the Insight’s marketing caught people’s interest with its below $20,000 pricing strategy and a marketing campaign that made the Insight look like a formidable candidate to take on its more expensive hybrid rival by showing hybids can be affordable, unfortunately Honda just was a much lesser car in what was becoming a crowded hybrid sedan market with the Ford Fusion Hybrid and the new Prius.

5. Kia Soul Hamsters (link)



An automotive brand hasn’t let a little creature define it’s product since the flop of “The Caddy that Zigs” when the Cadillac Catera TV ads featured Cindy Crawford and a talking duck. Fortunately, Kia avoided the pitfalls of cartoon animals and decided to go with head bopping Zhu-Zhu pets to go along with it’s “A New Way to Roll” campaign. The cute hamsters were an instant hit as many in the target consumer group, 20-somethings, enjoyed the hip hamsters.

The latest iteration is seen in a Kia ad featuring the Forte Sedan, Forte Coupe and Soul that features one of the hamsters plastered to a showroom window. It looks like the brand is accepting its hamster-ness. The delicate line Kia must watch for in 2010 is not becoming only about hamsters. It could really go too far: newspaper-lined floors instead of floor mats anyone???

4. Volvo XC60 Integrated Twitter YouTube Road Block
(link)



Social media was the buzz du jour in 2009 and it most likely will continue in 2010. One of the more intelligent integrations of social media, online media, and event marketing was this effort from Volvo during last spring’s New York Auto Show.

Volvo was promoting the City Safety feature of its all-new XC60 SUV. City Safety automatically engages the brakes if the driver gets too close to the car in front. It’s a bit of a complicated, hard to understand feature that is best understood through real-life experience. To accomplish this for everyone who didn’t run right down to their Volvo dealer to try it out, Volvo decided to have people visiting the New York Auto Show experience it outside of the show’s convention center. Once someone tried it out, they could Tweet their experience giving instant feedback to the world. Volvo incorporated the comments in a live feed in a banner ad they ran on YouTube for that day.

I’m certain that we will see a few other automotive companies emulate this integration as the auto show season kicks up here in 2010.

3. Nissan Cube Mobile Device
(link)



If there is one ad that really captures where the automobile is in the mind of Millennials, it’s Nissan Cube’s Mobile Device TV spot. The ad features a car that does not move and merely acts as a connection device for connecting with one’s friends, music and lifestyle. Everything moves around the Cube. The wheels are stationary. It is not about driving, it’s about socializing.

Nissan’s treatment of the car as more of a smart phone on wheels is quite interesting. It really says the car’s benefits to a person’s life is not horsepower, a growling exhaust note, or a sleek design. Nope. It’s quite the opposite here. Here the car is more about its connectivity to your life and how well all your gadgets interact with it. This is a drastic change in how a car is sold and I’m quite certain it won’t be the last.

2. Hyundai Assurance (link)



Ad Age readers voted Hyundai Marketer of the Year. The main reason is 2009 was a year all about results. A company that could maintain sales or market share was a winner in this brutal economy, but Hyundai did more than that. It was one of only two auto manufacturers to increase sales through all of 2009 (compared to 2008 sales.)

The most notable thing Hyundai did from a marketing decision was implement their Assurance program that said it would let buyers of a recently bought Hyundai return the car if they lost their job (a few easy to understand restrictions applied.) It was an idea born out of consumer research that found potential Hyundai buyers were apprehensive mostly due to their concerns of rising unemployment impacting them. So, Hyundai answered with this campaign that was further promoted during the Super Bowl in early 2009. The high-profile TV spot was a great way to get the word out and it kept Hyundai sales in the positive while most manufacturers were losing 20-30% year-over-year sales.

General Motors and Ford both came back with their own versions of the Assurance program but by that time most in the industry were talking about the latest sales boosting craze – Cash for Clunkers that would define the summer months.

Hyundai continued to launch all kinds of extensions of the Assurance program, adding $1.49 a gallon gas price for a full year and additional cash incentives. None of the other ideas caught as much attention as the original Assurance program, but that didn’t matter as consumers understood Hyundai had a safety net program for uneasy shoppers. The brands impressive results with great new products and timely marketing campaign kept one company in this industry from a negative year.

1. Ford Fiesta Movement (link)



I don’t usually add anything from Ford, Lincoln or Mercury to this blog, but I can’t ignore the Fiesta Movement and what it has added to the automotive marketing space in 2009. The Fiesta Movement is all about generating buzz, buzz, buzz! It did so by giving 100 “Fiesta Agents” a European model Fiesta for 6 months and letting the Agents document their fun with the car using YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, basically across social media. Agents were chosen primarily for their social media influence and creativity.

Why I think this is the #1 automotive marketing effort for 2009 is not about me praising my own client or marketing firm I work for; rather, this idea of letting influencers (whatever that means) experience cars in an unusual, very involved way is going to be the big idea for many campaigns to come. Rumor has it that Honda is already thinking about doing something similar with the Insight as is another undisclosed auto firm.

The attention Ford has received from the Fiesta Movement is quite impressive and sure to be copied. It was a great way to get the word out about a product that was originally almost 18 months away from debuting on dealer lots. In fact, the awareness of the Fiesta is similar to Ford’s Edge CUV that has been in the market for several years.

The only question remains is how will all the early buzz of the Fiesta Movement impact sales? Will people not see it as a new fresh car to buy after 18 months of promotion before launch or will the momentum continue as Ford intends as The Fiesta Movement Part II is underway right now?

Either way the Fiesta Movement will probably be one of the few if any campaigns our industry will remember 5 years out from 2009 and that is mainly why I gave it the top spot in my list.
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