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Showing posts with label Volvo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Volvo. Show all posts

Friday, August 17, 2012

Confusing Your Models



This is a new one.

Model Carolyn Giles is suing Volvo after the company supposedly ran some ad units on an Australian dating website inviting singles to "spend a night with the Swedish model of your choice."

The issue with the ad has a lot to do with the double meaning of 'model.' Unfortunately, the copywriter's play on words is bringing Volvo into court..

The misleading copy of 'model' is now a $23 million lawsuit Giles has filed against Volvo, Hertz and her modeling agency. It's doubtful the damages are anywhere near that significance.  Regardless, it is a good lesson in ad copy and media buying.

Sure a good play on words can grab the site visitor's attention just make sure you still respect the integrity of your talent.

Source: [Dailymail]
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Monday, April 9, 2012

Remember When Parking Lots Were Full of Wagons, Not SUVs? Neither Do I.





This classic ad from Volvo kind of reminds me of my home. Off I go to work in my convertible, while leaving my wife with the wagon.  Though she is no meek wallflower and definitely has no issue "mobilizing."

Yet it's interesting to see the ads of today that show wagons as vehicles of adventure and escape; though Volvo does not call the XC70 a wagon but rather the much overused term Crossover.

This ad showcasing the off-road prowess and speed is what it takes to make a wagon cool again than so be it. At least we are no longer talking about how many refrigerators full of groceries a Volvo wagon can carry.

You've come a long way baby.






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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Our Family's Personal Story of Buying a Car



This post is going to be a bit different than my usual post on the blog.  I’m not going to write about marketing all that much, since sadly marketing had very little to do with what cars our family narrowed down to.  Is this because marketing has little impact on car shopping? No.  I’m sure it had more to do with my being fairly knowledgeable about the cars currently in the market so discovery wasn’t a factor.

It’s been over four years since I last went through the car buying experience. There is never a dull moment when buying a car.

A lot of information is online, including every dealership’s inventory that makes seeing what’s already on dealer lots easy, sometimes.  I found several dealers didn’t fill out all of the specifications including such basic things as interior color and packages.  I even had one dealer I did an email inquiry on ignore my simple question about interior color and instead told me to, “Come on down and test drive it. You’ll love it!” “You know what I’d love to know what the interior color is,” I responded in a follow up email. 

One thing I learned is that dealers still have a ton to learn.  Their email systems with auto-response are a mess, often making communication more troubling. In another situation, I submitted a request to get a dealer’s “ePrice.”  What came back was a lovely form email telling the MSRP as the “ePrice” on a car that’s body style is 5 years old and I know full well had at least a couple thousand dollars of room to negotiate. You think they would’ve tried a little with even $500 off.

Our car buying decision was a joint process between my wife and me.  It was to replace her 1999 Lexus RX300 that was starting to suffer old age with too many repairs last year.  Since our moving to Dallas from Detroit, we do a lot more out of state travel.  My wife isn’t a big fan of flying so driving back and forth between Texas and Michigan is at least a twice a year thing. 

So we needed a car that worked for our family of four (twin 5 year old boys in tow), had all-wheel drive thanks to Michigan winter driving still, had plenty of cargo space, and navigation. Plus a decent turning radius after 10 years of the Lexus that required a three-point turn in every situation.

About a year ago, we were online and I was showing my wife the integrated child booster seats on the Volvo SUVs and wagon.  This $1000 option, included in the cold package, had my wife talking about wanting a Volvo most of last year.  The XC90 was her primary choice.

While I liked the Volvos, I wanted to look at some other choices too.  I started researching used Porsche Cayennes and X5 Diesels, knowing new was out of my league.  She wanted a new car so my dream of Euro CPO was out of the question.

Our first experience with a Volvo was a overnight extended test-drive before Christmas break in a XC90. I had been down to a dealership in late November and the sales guy kept leaving me messages, but I wasn’t serious enough to buy or call back yet. Finally he left one message saying he can offer us an overnight test-drive. I took him up on it.

It was massively disappointing – showing how the test-drive is the most significant part of a buying decision.  The XC90 had soft, floaty handling and some of the interior items, because the car hasn’t been refreshed in a major way since 2002 when it launched, felt cheap and poorly executed.  I remember most the ugly window switch that looked like it came out of a late 1990s Ford, which it probably did.  Also the third row was completely useless. 

We returned the XC90 telling the salesperson at Park Place Volvo in Dallas that we were going on vacation for the holiday and to call us back first week of January.  I still have yet to hear from this dealership…

Fast forward to early February. 

I’m very fortunate. I have some great contacts in the auto industry and thanks to Scott Monty and Sam Delag of Ford I was able to secure a 2012 Ford Explorer to see if I could get my wife interested in a Ford.  Let me preface, her good friend had an Explorer in the 1990s and hated it. In fact, I helped our friend buy a Toyota Highlander after the miserable experience with her Ford. So, my wife was very skeptical.

I told her Ford really has changed. Of course, I knew this very well having worked at Ford’s Agency of Record Team Detroit for 3 years before coming to AT&T in Dallas in 2010.

We spent about 5 days with the Explorer and it dramatically changed my wife’s opinion of the brand.  It also had us both extremely close to buying a Ford.  There was a lot to love. MyFord Touch was loaded with technology, including changing ambient interior light colors – the best feature according our kids.  Also the automatic, and useful, third-row seating was very impressive. 

What we didn’t love was the size. It felt huge on the road and Dallas has a lot of narrow parking spaces so I found myself having to pass 2 or 3 before finding a spot I wouldn’t get 50 door dings in. 

The size was also what we loved the most. It is a great road trip SUV and we could easily imagine some great drives across the States in it.  It had everything too with heated/cooled seats, dual-sunroofs, and great comfortable seats for all three rows.

We returned it to Grapevine Ford who was fantastic for letting us try it out.  Trevor, the sales guy who arranged everything, was excellent and I highly recommend him. 

Next we had arranged for a Volvo XC70 T6 station wagon from Volvo of Dallas for a weekend.

It was loaded with every feature imaginable; though, felt less optioned then the Ford Explorer we just returned the week before. Goes to show you how complete the Explorer is.

I have to say I loved the Volvo on two main points: handling and engine.  It satisfied everything I wanted out of a family hauler.  The turbo 300 horsepower and 325 pound feet of torque engine is slightly better than a stock version of my 2007 BMW 335i.   Handling on the T6 model is also firm and responsive.  It’s no BMW but it was a world of difference from the unimpressive XC90’s handling. 

Our boys really liked the integrated booster seats.  My wife felt the car was easier to drive than the larger Explorer and the technology seemed a lot simpler too. While MyFord Touch had a lot of cool features, it made for a very confusing interface after the more straight forward; though, less feature rich Volvo. 

The bad news on the Volvo was no third-row, a tiny sunroof, and no air-cooled seats.   Also the Volvo was about $4,000 more. 

In the end we went with the Volvo knowing that while we would appreciate the size and third-row of the Explorer a few key times in the year it wasn’t really necessary. Plus the Volvo was just easier day-to-day for my wife to drive and I loved the engine and handling of the XC70 T6. 

We also had a great salesperson, Jonathan Tullis, who made the whole transaction easy and straight forward, plus he follows up with customers.

While there are a lot of factors that go into choosing a vehicle, I find it funny that so little had anything to do with word-of-mouth, ads or social media. Though offers did matter since both cars had great financing rates that were a factor in our consideration.

Quite simply the biggest factor of our choice was a $1,000 option: the integrated child seats.  If that option was available in other brands, we most likely would’ve looked at them, because in the end it’s all about product. This time Volvo took an early lead and a strong finish with one simple product feature advantage no one else had.

We basically bought 300 horsepower car seats.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Is 3D Projection the New Flash Mob Marketing Event?




I've watched a few flash mob marketing events on YouTube and wonder why am I watching this. It's interesting for maybe 10 seconds but a 1:38-minute video of Can't Touch This... Is this really a good use of my time? I find I have the same experience with the latest trend in event marketing - 3D Projection Imaging.

Just like flash mob videos, 3D Projection Imaging videos always show the people at the event with their mobile phones capturing the moment and being in awe of what is happening where they are. That experience doesn't translate well for someone watching it happen on a YouTube video while at their computer. I guess you just had to be there to really get the experience.

3D Projection Imaging is cool looking and it is certainly more likely to get shared than say the typical TV ad or other attempt at social content, but that's a guess as I don't have any deep dive analysis into whether that is true or not. What I do know is that interesting content that is promoted effectively is likely to see more shares than stuff that is boring and/or has no media push.

Hyundai comes with the latest attempt at trying to capture interest with their Accent promotion and even include a Making of Film. The execution is nicely done with the suspended vehicle looking as if it is driving in multiple scenes there on the building. And even if 3D Project Imaging is starting to get old (see several automotive examples below), it is something fairly recent here in the States and showcases Hyundai's tag line "New Thinking. New Possibilities" in a creative way.

For more examples of how automotive marketers have used 3D Projection Imaging in campaigns, please checkout the following examples from Volvo, BMW, and Volkswagen.

Volvo gave it a try in Frankfurt, Germany on September 2009:



BMW's execution May 2010 in Singapore:



Volkswagen Polo showcased their attempt in April 2010. Be forewarned this example shows what one can do without a big budget:



Thanks to the Digital Buzz Blog for covering the Hyundai example. Checkout their review here.


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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Volvo Asks to be Part of Your Social Connections



Volvo sent out a "Stay in the Loop" email that solely communicated connecting with the company on Facebook and Twitter. It's the first time I've seen any automaker send out an email communication out to their mailing list that only promotes the brand's social presence. Most emails are putting some sort of link to a Facebook page or Twitter account, but that is usually relegated to the end of a quarterly email communication.

There's nothing really significant here from Volvo, but it is interesting to see the brand solely promote its social links with zero promotion of a vehicle. What's nice is the call-to-action is straight forward, but do customers or potential customers really want your company sending them emails about liking them on Facebook?


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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Volvo Wants You to be Naughty



The new Volvo S60 is sexy. You heard me right, a Volvo can be sexy with its smooth, flowing lines. I saw the concept car last year here in Detroit and it was the most interesting, beautifully designed Volvo since the P1800. Fortunately the production version of the concept from the 2009 show has remained pretty much intact to become the 2011 Volvo S60.

Yes it is sexy, but is it really naughty? Volvo’s marketing team thinks so. They had some fun prior to the car’s debut today in Geneva with two video teasers promoting the Volvo S60 reveal website: http://naughty.volvocars.com. The two preview videos were a good way to build some buzz about the vehicle’s new website and created a mental shift of thinking of a Volvo as naughty. Naughty definitely sparked some interest since it seemed so far outside of Volvo’s normal brand image of family safety.

Michael Persson, director of global marketing communications for Volvo says “The all-new Volvo S60 is a particularly dynamic car with an exciting design and innovative safety features… We are showing what it can actually do and just how much fun it is to drive.”

The Naughty Volvo Cars website features a couple videos of the S60 aggressively driving in some empty road slaloms. One of the tests is an Elk Test that demonstrates “the S60’s amazing responsiveness in an emergency maneuver.”

After watching the tests the website viewer can submit ideas to make the Elk Test “even naughtier, more playful.” Users are asked to submit ideas with the top five ideas going up for a group vote with the top voted idea to be filmed by the Volvo S60 team.

Ideas are shared on a Discussion board on the Volvo brand Facebook fan page. As of today most of the ideas were not ideas at all, but instead Volvo fans asking for the return of a Volvo S60R as several enthusiasts figured a naughty Volvo implied a fast, Type R Volvo that did not happen today.

The site is pretty straightforward stuff. Navigation is clear and the video content is presented in a clean, easy-to-use format. The use of a Facebook discussion board made for an easier development schedule, but it does seem a bit disconnected since it doesn't warn the user a new window is opening and that the Facebook page is there to submit naughty ideas.

It also still isn’t entirely clear what is so naughty about the S60 after watching the videos and reading the site copy. The message feels very disconnected especially when the site asks, “want it naughty?” It just sees a bit odd for a vehicle that is probably going to sell to wealthy, middle-aged, professional men and women who buy a Volvo to protect their kids.
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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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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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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Volvo Tests Males Attention to Detail



Volvo has some fun in this European ad for the Volvo C70 hardtop convertible. The concept is well, a wife-swap idea, but it also pokes some fun at how clueless we men are when it comes to paying attention to the details in life. Or is that we are so self-absorbed that it really doesn't matter which attractive woman we are sharing our cars with?

Most interesting is how the ad gets away with a wife-swap theme without coming off creepy or offensive. Other than some brief shoulder nudity during the women swapping blouses, the ad is simply a great way to showcase the two unique variants of a hardtop convertible. As someone who ones a hardtop convertible, I get a lot of people who are surprised my car is a convertible and not just a coupe. It really is two cars in one and the Volvo ad plays off that idea in an interesting, creative way.


One has to wonder if this new idea runs counter to another Volvo C70 ad called "I Adore You"? In this ad, a couple share a mutual love for the C70 as they gaze into each others eyes. Perhaps this is the start of the relationship and months or years later we get the new wife-swap ad showing it really doesn't matter who you are with as long as you're in a Volvo.
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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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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What Drives Edward? The Volvo XC60




It's highly unusual for a car company commercial to generate any buzz, but team up with this Fall's most buzz worthy film and people start watching and commenting about your ad. The latest movie that uses a car as star in a film is Twilight: New Moon. A Volvo XC60 is driven by the film's protagonist, Edward, and with fans eagerly waiting for the film's debut this Friday, the commercial is satisfying some of that need with over 240,000 views and 160 comments on YouTube. And the hysteria is reaching epic proportions with comments like this from fans, "SEXY CAR DROVE BY A SEXY˛ˇ MAN !!" Way to go Volvo, your SUV is "sexy!"

What's most intriguing about the Volvo promotion is that it extends beyond the normal email or online marketing campaign for a contest. In this case, the contest is further promoted in a TV spot which by most contest standards is quite unique. But with a popular film to tie it all together, it's providing some excellent awareness for Volvo's first entry-level luxury SUV.

The promotion online includes a sweepstakes and contest with the contest requiring visitors to solve six phases, each borrowing knowledge from fans of the Twilight series. The first to solve all six phases wins a brand-new Volvo XC60.

The contest is the most confusing thing about the promotion. I have been getting emails from Volvo promoting each phase of the contest, but every time I click to "play the latest phase" I end up at the homepage of the WhatDrivesEdward.com site instead of viewing the instructions for the latest phase. Some deep linking into the What Drives Edward site would've been very helpful.

Volvo, probably realizing most Twilight fans are in their twenties and early thirties, decided to additionally promote their entry-level car the Volvo C30. Both in email communications and on the What Drives Edward site, there are side-by-side images of the XC60 and C30 for visitors to click-on to get more information about the cars. This is a nice way to extend the product portfolio to a more relevant product for site visitors, since the SUV may not appeal best to the contest participants.

If you wish to try your Twilight knowledge, there are a few days left to get the six contest phases solved or you can just enter the sweepstakes for your chance to win a XC60.
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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

An Automotive Strategist's Look at Twitter


I uploaded a presentation on Slideshare.net I developed on how I came to find Twitter a useful medium for an automotive enthusiast or marketer. Basically, the deck looks at how I approached Twitter and found a way to make it work for me. I also reviewed a couple of automotive experiments on Twitter and how they are giving auto lovers a place to congregate and engage with brands, publications, and other enthusiasts.
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Friday, April 17, 2009

Volvo's YouTube Ad Integrates Twitter Live Feed


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

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

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

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

Here are examples from the Twitter user comments:

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

More information about the execution can be found at ClickZ.com.
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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

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


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

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

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


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

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

So get out and touch a car. Maybe you’ll want it more or you’ll pay more if you actually open a door, sit down and wrap your hands around a supple leather steering wheel. Just remember to be careful, because if you a break it you bought it.
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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Who has the Biggest Stimulus Package?


Now that the word bailout has been replaced with the friendlier stimulus word, marketers are ramping up on their messaging to work stimulus into their ads. Hyundai and Volvo are the first automakers to adopt the term.

Volvo is running Tier 2 TV spots for regional dealerships with the language “Stimulate Your Stimulus”. Not sure what that means since no one is really getting a stimulus unless you are AIG or a major financial institution, that issue aside, it does seem like a very weak message. They are also using the phrase in their email marketing efforts.

Hyundai is simply adding some stimulus language within their online media efforts to promote their well-received Assurance program.

Unfortunately, there is a logic issue with the stimulus language for marketing purposes. The stimulus effort is a policy effort to help stave off unemployment and foreclosures. Adding a car payment to one’s financial situation is counterintuitive to the whole concept of a stimulus. Of course, I understand the language in the ads is to promote cost savings by putting money on the hood and reducing financing rates, but with so much contempt for buying big ticket items it seems attaching the word “stimulus” to your message to get people to spend $20,000-$40,000 is not a compatible concept.
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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Is Twitter Right for Automotive Marketing?


I have been following Twitter for a short while, about three months (you’re welcome to follow me @cbaccus.) So, please understand that I am not a Twitter evangelist. I’m also not anti-Twitter. I simply want to learn what is effective and see what brands (particularly automotive brands) are doing on this channel.

Varying Efforts: Ford, Volvo and Nissan

So far, there are a couple of efforts that have caught my attention. One is the work of Scott Monty, the social media person from Ford’s PR team, to see what he is doing to promote Ford’s brands on Twitter. The other efforts come from product launch “trials”. Volvo recently started a XC60 Twitter account and so has Nissan with their Nissan Cube launch. They are two efforts that are using Twitter to try to gain an audience.

First let’s look at Scott’s endeavors at Ford.

For disclosure purposes, Scott is a client of mine in a round about way. I don’t work directly with him but I work for the agency of record on the Ford marketing account and have met Scott, but I don’t know him well nor have I worked on any direct projects with him. I just have simply observed by following his blog and Twitters.

This week Scott is getting trashed by Jalopnik, a very popular automotive blog. The dig was mainly one about the power of Twitter as a way to sell cars along with some personal attacks focused around Scott’s strong ability to self promote. I’ll focus on the selling cars part of the criticism levied by Ray Wert of Jalopnik who questions if Monty’s efforts really impact automotive sales.

From listening to Scott, he has established some strong relationships on Twitter and claims to have had some impact on changing Ford’s brand perception through his communications with those who have forgotten about Ford or have a negative perception of Ford from prior experience. The most public example is Scott’s traction with technology blogger Scobleizer.

Scott is a PR guy at Ford. So, he is primarily focused on improving Ford’s image by influencing media coverage. Improving the brand’s image should eventually result in increased sales and, yes, it may take years to really have any significant impact on sales. But I wouldn’t call what Scott is doing marketing. He is doing public relations.

The other efforts by Volvo and Nissan are truly marketing efforts. Volvo’s communications on Twitter 90% of the time promote drive events where the new vehicle is being toured around the States and the marketing team is using Twitter to promote event location and timing. If you are not interested in these events or are too much of a Twitter fanatic that you can’t just look up the event location on Volvo’s XC60 blog than the Twitter follow loses all value. The other 10% of posts comment on questions people ask the account administrator.

Nissan’s effort was to create a personality for the vehicle. They Tweeted (is that what it’s called?) witty phrases that imitated the car’s personality. It was rather urbane stuff, but for the Nissan Cube fanatics I’m sure it was kind of fun for them and probably produced a grin or two every time a new Tweet came across. Plus the Tweets kept the vehicle in the consumer’s mindset. The problem is very few people followed it with barely a 100 followers, and considerably less once you exclude the agency and Nissan employees who followed it.

The Importance of Twitter

The above examples are not sweeping endorsements of Twitter for automotive marketing, but don’t give up just yet. Understanding why Twitter is even considered right for marketing in social media is still important to automotive brands.

There seem to be two dominant, related themes that are drawing brands to Twitter.

1.) The Power of Relationship Marketing that has been promoted in books like Groundswell.
2.) The idea that mass advertising has lost its impact. Seth Godin says, the strategy is to market to the Innovators, “because they care. These are the people that are obsessed with something and, when you talk to them, they’ll listen, they like to listen and it’s about them and if you are lucky they’ll tell their friends.”


So Twitter is about relationships and it’s about word of mouth impact. Some brands are finding success through Twitter by leveraging the popularity of Twitter advocates. American Express recently started Open Forum, an online community for small business owners with Guy Kawasaki a well-known author and entrepreneur, writing for the community. Kawasaki has also leveraged Twitter and has attracted roughly 60,000 people, who follow Guy on Twitter, to the Open Forum site. Examples like this is creating a lot of buzz showing the power of Twitter to attract eyeballs to corporate website endeavors. It’s not the only avenue to promote the site; it’s simply part of the marketing strategy.

Is It a Medium Worth Automakers Time?

So can automotive brands find success in this space? Possibly. I would think more success will come from efforts that are about long-term relationships than setting up temporary Twitter accounts for a vehicle’s launch, those will die when the launch budget dries up and besides relationships take time.

I do like how Scott Monty created accounts around different themes for the Ford brand, like @FordDriveGreen. Unfortunately, very little is posted on these Ford branded Twitter accounts and most of the Ford communications are done via the @ScottMonty account. So, very little relationship marketing is happening from a branded account; instead one person is becoming the relationship, which is risky especially when Ford and Scott part ways.

That said, there is hope that relationship building could happen and could positively impact a brand’s perception if it is an early adopter, which is something Scott Monty is trying to do at Ford by using Twitter so extensively. I agree with Scott’s approach that Twitter is about building relationships and relationship marketing is a driving force that does have some success stories and will have more, even in the automotive world… eventually. Provided they are done right with an achievable goal, effective branding, developing meaningful relationships through honest dialog, and by participating in social media beyond just promoting your marketing driver events.
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