Showing posts with label dealership. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dealership. Show all posts

Friday, July 19, 2013

Honda Asks Twitter Want a New Car? Responds with a Get a New Vine

On Monday July 15th, Honda launched a social media campaign using the short-form video application Vine as a way to reach people expressing their frustrations with their current car. They noticed a lot of people in social media share their daily vehicle problems, which could open up an engaging opportunity to help promote Honda’s Summer Clearance Event.

Prior to the day, they shared this video promoting what the social media team intended to do. Basically they would respond to people with car issues by creating a 6-second Vine video using the hashtag #WantNewCar.

Monday came and Honda created several Vine videos showing dealership sales people in khaki pants and blue shirts filming whimsical videos at Honda dealership.  They responded in the following way with people in need of a new car.

So how did it do as a way to increase social conversation for Honda? 

The following three charts show a couple things.  The first looks at the use of the #WantNewCar hashtag, with most of the activity coming from the paid Promoted trend on Honda bought on Twitter July 15th. 

The second chart looks at mentions of “@Honda” to see what kind of lift came from people talking about the brand account or retweeting content from the campaign.  The top piece of content shared was this Vine using YouTube sensation Rebecca Black that received 34 retweets and 25 favorites.

The third chart looks at overall mentions of “Honda” in the last 6 months. Ignoring the April spike due to the Boston Police looking for a Honda sedan at one point during the bombing manhunt, the conversation around Honda didn’t really move much and was normal during this past week’s vine event. This comes as no surprise as a lot of engagement on the #WantNewCar hashtag focused more on people wanting some other car than a Honda; though, quite a few people did ask Honda for a free car.

Mentions of "#WantNewCar"

Last 6 Months Tweets Mentioning "@Honda"

Last 6 Months Tweets Mentioning "Honda"

The campaign did provide some decent lift and received positive response from media and social media fans.  Plus it’s a fun creative execution that tried to engage Twitter users in a playful way.  That said, the hashtag might have been more of an issue with this campaign.

The night of the event I followed the conversation closely and came away with three common responses from the online community.
  • Most people who engaged with #WantNewCar thought Honda was asking them to share a negative experience with their current car (or lack of owning a car) so that they could win a free car from Honda.

  • Those who were hoping for a new car for free asked more often for something other than a Honda.  Pick your favorite aspirational sports car and that was likely what people were tweeting about.

  • Finally for those who found out that they were not getting any possibility of a free car, and may only get a free vine video, well that didn’t go over so well.

And while the Honda Vine videos were not as revolutionary or compelling as some other campaigns, the company did recently release this brand video showcasing Honda’s history in a fascinating way.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Toyota's Recall Pain Mocked by Honda Dealer

One great thing about dealership marketing is how they can react to news immediately and get a response without all the production time and creative planning it takes to develop a campaign.

So with all of the news about Toyota’s decision to stop selling 8 of its vehicles, including the best selling car in America the Toyota Camry. It is no surprise that one dealer took the initiative and immediately poked fun at his main competitor.

The above dealership sign posted by @Edmunds is supposedly from a Dallas, Texas Honda dealership.

Monday, October 19, 2009

FTC: Bloggers Not the Target, Advertisers Are

If you are a follower of social media news, I’m sure you didn’t miss all of the discussions about the FTC announcing guidance for bloggers having to disclose any freebees they receive from companies. It’s been a hot discussion topic across blogs, the advertising industry and major media outlets. In fact, if you want to understand the topic better than I can ever describe it, checkout the New York Times article discussing not only the impact on bloggers but what it means for traditional media too.

A lot of this issue has surrounded bloggers being singled out for receiving swag, while magazines, newspapers and TV reviewers get all kinds of products free to review from manufacturers. With the new rules, many bloggers feel the FTC guidelines (they are not laws) unfairly make bloggers the target of government regulations for a practice traditional media has taken part in for decades. This is a valid concern, but what does this mean for the automotive industry and its use of bloggers?

Is this passive compliance?

There is a $16,000 fine associated with each violation, so the threat is real but is it likely to be levied? The Silicon Alley Insider reports, “FTC assistant director Richard Cleland tells Joe Ciarallo at PR Newser, the FTC would never go after a blogger. It would only go after the advertiser.”

After a couple weeks digesting the FTC rules many feel they are meant as self-policing regulation to show that the government will take violations that mislead customers seriously, but most of the change will be an industry understanding of how to behave with consumer interests in mind. Doing proper disclosure is a good thing as is properly making well-informed statements about products being reviewed.

In a recent addition of the marketing Podcast The Bean Cast, host Bob Knorpp shares his email exchange with advertising lawyer Michael McSunas about when such a fine would occur. Many feel, as reported in last week’s Agency Spy blog, that the FTC sets up these rules as a guideline and never enforces the compliance with a fine. McSunas feels a fine would only be sought if the violation was for "deceptive practices or maybe a complaint." This is probably correct but of course it’s an educated assumption until we see the FTC take action or no action.

Disclosure is Easy, Inaccurate Statements More Complex

Regardless of when or if a fine will ever be levied, the FTC rules have caused a bit of a panic for bloggers who don’t want to face government fines after possibly inaccurately reviewing the latest hybrid car or family minivan.

It’s also caused concern for marketers who don’t want to be a case study for the FTC and want to make sure no inaccurate statements are made about their products, so it creates an issue for them to now review everything written about them that they send for review to a blogger. This issue is fare more concerning than the disclosure rule a blogger is supposed to make for receiving any item to review.

Marketers more likely the target

One issue automakers may worry about is statements casually written by bloggers that could be construed as competitive claims. To quote the FTC Rules directly:
"The Commission believes it is reasonable to hold the advertiser responsible for communicating approved claims to the service (which, in turn, would be responsible for communicating those claims to the blogger).”
For those who may not know, automakers must legally confirm competitive statements like best mid-size sedan fuel economy or roomiest third-row. Of course, some claims are utter nonsense since companies choose who is in their segment, though it does have to be within reason. Also claims can select what they want to compare against, like using highway mileage instead of combined mileage or vice-versa to show a competitive advantage.

With bloggers, the concern is a possible lack of depth within a particular industry of products where a blogger may claim something like “wow this car has the most roomiest interior of any SUV.” False claims like this now have federal oversight from the FTC that may cause reluctance from a corporate lawyer reviewing a blogger outreach campaign.

So, the big question is will fear of inaccurate statements by bloggers reduce company participation in social media? Don't know. Maybe in the near-term, but I doubt long-term since companies and bloggers will learn how to comply with the FTC rules and some initial hysteria may dissipate over time.

It’s about consumer protection... really

If this is about consumer protection and less about collecting fines, the FTC rules should be welcomed as it shows blogger importance has reached a level worthy of attention. There have been marketers like Sony who have created fake bloggers to write about the PSP. Other issues have been companies outright paying for positive reviews. Something had to be done to handle the few violations of public trust.

My experience in automotive is that it is quite clear when a blogger is given a car to review and from where that car came from. So disclosure is already being done. Claims are the more pressing concern and may lead to additional materials being presented to bloggers at the time a vehicle is offered for review.

In conclusion

Hopefully, the FTC rules will remove any suspect social media campaigns that create fake bloggers or do payola deals. Also, I believe we’ll see the rules in action by their inaction and how this may do very little to change what is going on today on most blogs. Sure we’ll see some more emphatic statements about how a blogger received a product, but beyond that the impact should be minimal and the working relationship with bloggers and auto manufacturers and dealers a continuing positive experience for all.

For more information about the FTC Rules:

Truth in Advertising, Offline or Online from @NYTimes

Episode 75: The Monopoly on Crappy Work from @TheBeanCast

IAB Says FTC Blogger Rules Trample Constitution from @AdWeek

FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials from

Finally, this blog post was sponsored by Gas Station Coffee for when you are too lazy to brew your own or walk 1 minute to the nearest Starbucks.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Yes, a Car Dealer Can be a "Trust Agent"

The book Trust Agents by Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan) and Julien Smith (@julien) is getting rave reviews in social media circles. It’s a book about using the web to build influence and improve one’s reputation online. What’s amazing is it is not your typical social media book that talks about what Twitter is or what is happening with kids on MySpace; rather, it is about practical advice around reputation management and how having online respect can lead to a better performing business or career.

That said, I finished the book feeling a bit icky. Don’t get me wrong, it is an excellent book filled with a lot of insight and solid advice. I felt icky in the same way I would feel icky reading a book like How to Win Friends and Influence People which feels like a way to manipulate people and in a sense that’s part of what Trust Agents is about. It doesn’t emphatically say here is how you manipulate people or you should manipulate people, in fact its authors are very clear that the book isn’t for that purpose.

So I got to thinking about the most manipulative caricature in the automotive industry – the car dealer – and how he or she might find “Trust Agents” a valuable read. But I don’t think most will use Trust Agents in evil-ways nor do I think car salespeople are bad people; rather, I think car salespeople can learn a lot from Trust Agents. In fact, a lot of the lessons could change public perception of the conniving car salesman.

It’s no surprise people hate car shopping and mostly dislike the dealership experience. Social media provides an opportunity to change that perception, but it is not a short-term fix and those dealers who enter social media relationship building might get frustrated because getting a quick sale isn’t what social media is about. You just don’t one day start a Facebook page or a Twitter account and get a bunch of traffic in the showroom the following week.

What’s most valuable about Trust Agents is how it outlines what to expect, the time it takes to build respect, and how building a following can turn into amazing things down the road. Understanding the process is one of the solid insights of the book.

First dealers must understand the concept of “One of Us.” “One thing that distinguishes certain people as trust agents is the simple defining question of whether a specific community sees them as ‘one of us,’” states the authors. This is a very fundamental concept in social relationship building. The great thing is that I have experienced dealers who get this very well.

For example, I have become “friends” with the person running the Jupiter Chevrolet Twitter account (@JUPCHEVY. I assume it’s the same person, a male; though, I could be wrong.)

What makes @JUPCHEVY interesting is that he is someone who is obviously passionate about cars and regularly engages with his followers. The Tweets aren’t the typical dealer communications about what latest vehicle arrived or that they are open Saturday; rather, the communications show a passion for the GM products but also shows some personality. Look at @JUPCHEVY’s Tweets and see what I mean.

This is relationship building and Jupiter Chevrolet has become “one of us” in many discussions on cars with other auto enthusiasts. He has shared photos of his classic Camaro, participated in various #carchat sessions with other auto enthusiasts, and engages in a very human, non sales, kind of way.

So what about sales? Now, I don’t live anywhere near Garland, Texas, where this dealership is, but it doesn’t matter. I have a good friend in Dallas and if he ever needs a car, I’d recommend Jupiter Chevrolet in a second. Sure it’s a stretch to say the relationship building will lead to a sale from me, but just think of that. A stranger up in Michigan will recommend your dealership in Texas to people in his social network and with all of us talking on Facebook and other social properties it’s not that much a stretch that some relationships may lead to sales.

It’s important to note that @JUPCHEVY hasn’t become “one of us” because he is a car salesman. Nope it’s because of what is mentioned in Trust Agents, “the most important thing is to execute against who you are; be authentic, start pumping out free content, and become part of the conversation.” I know this dealer loves cars and is passionate about his industry. It’s that passion and integrity that has created this trust.

Trust Agents states the obvious, “we tend to buy from people who are like us.” What’s cool about social media is how it can humanize even the most despicable of professions. But it takes time, commitment and a genuine interest in being a sharing person and not just talking about what you have to sell and when your doors are open. The best dealers are those who get that sales is all about the relationship and some very strong relationships can be built online. Trust Agents shows how this can happen and what it means in this new world.

What I’d like to believe is that a lot of car salespeople have a passion for their products and their industry and that they too can be similar trust agents like @JUPCHEVY. Sure it’s not for everyone and there does need to be genuineness in one’s communication. It’s possible one could fake it, but trust takes time and hopefully those who are trying to manipulate will get burned out by the time it takes to build a following.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Rejected Dealers Find Voice in Social Media

Several dealers (or is it ex-dealers?) are sharing how the recent dealership closing arrangement under GM and Chrysler’s government expedited bankruptcy proceedings are a violation of “constitutional rights”, “property rights” and “franchise laws.” Since no one is listening to the dealers, who were negatively impacted, they have offered their stories on YouTube for all to see. Since few of us watch CSPAN, this outreach may reach the intended public audience that should hear what has happened.

News stories from local media outlets and personal statements make up the Rejected Dealers YouTube Channel. It’s an interesting social outreach from a group who feels slighted that the country pretty much ignored their side of the story. YouTube is giving them a voice and organizing this content under a channel helps make the impact that much more stronger, especially if you spend some time listening to a few of the videos.

Some dealers discuss how the government’s Automotive Task Force was given wrong information about how much of a cost the dealerships are to the manufacturers. They feel this information missed the financial benefits the dealerships give the OEMs, the local communities, and the tax base.

The dealers are obviously intelligent, articulate business people who are very passionate about the business they or their families built. Each video creates a very personal connection with the dealer and how sorrowful the result of the Automotive Task Force decision is.

I know this isn’t the usual marketing coverage I write about on this blog, but it’s a compelling look at how social media can enable grassroots messages in the automotive industry. What’s on this channel is social outreach and giving people a voice beyond their normal channel. The end result is a compelling string of stories telling what has happened to hard-working people who were shafted by a rushed bankruptcy process.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Will Sidewiki Become an OEM or Dealership's Worst Social Media Nightmare?

Google just released a new technology they call Sidewiki. It allows anyone who installs Sidewiki on their browser to read and add comments to any website (requires Internet Explorer 6+ or Firefox 2+, for now.) A side panel that can expand or contract sits on the side of the browser window. Comments in the Sidewiki window are unique to each website and are viewable to anyone with the technology installed on their browser.

Social media strategist Richard Stacy explains the technology best in SocialMediaToday, “Because this is linked to the browser, the site owners themselves have no say here – you can’t opt-in or opt-out. At one level this could be a move which forces every website into the social media space – whether they like it or not.”

I thought about this technology and immediately became concerned about all of the vendettas people have about their poor experiences with a particular brand, car and dealership. Now people can instantly share their disgust with your brand and products as long as you have a website. You can’t turn it off, you can’t delete their comments and you are now instantly part of the social media party whether or not you want it.

Take for instance a person who owns the car I own – a 2007 BMW 335i convertible. He started a website called that covers his ownership frustration with water coming through his convertible top. Now he can go to BMW’s website and his dealership’s website and share his frustration with everyone who visits these web pages. Provided someone has Sidewiki installed, they now may avoid that dealership or that product and move right on to a competitor simply because of this one person’s issue or worse if many people have a similar issue with a vehicle, everyone now can voice their frustration collectively on that brand’s own website’s Sidewiki.

I did a test to see how this would work and added a Sidewiki complaint to a dealership I bought from over 10 years ago. As you can see, in the image that leads this story, it is quite easy to share one’s frustration and leave negative feedback (note: I deleted the comment after taking the screenshot for this story.) Not an unusual problem in social media, but now I can do it right on that dealer’s website and they have only a few options: ignore the comment, defend what happened in their own words, or hope others will come to their defense.

The most frustrating part for a dealership (or any commercial website) is that now no one has to search for feedback by reading various blogs and digging deep into search results. In fact, a site is probably using media buys to drive people to their site and now this drives them to all of the Sidewiki commentary too.

Now anyone with an issue can raise that issue right on the company’s website and the minute there is some sort of Public Relations fiasco, just think how bombarded a site will get with Sidewiki comments?

It’s a new world out there and every website now has public feedback turned on. Sidewiki is very new and it may not develop as I am outlining it here, but my guess is that we will see this technology spread. What will be interesting is to see how brands respond and if Google will eventually have to pull the plug or change functionality (like allowing sites to disable Sidewiki functionality.)

Friday, July 24, 2009

An Insider Look into the Minds of Car Dealers

There is one site on the web that every automotive marketing industry person should frequent regularly and that is the Automotive Digital Marketing site. There are some real gems out there, as the above video uhm... proves. Okay, it proves that progress is an elusive thing and that local TV production hasn't evolved much in thirty years, but if you want to see what is "viral" in dealer videos you will find it on the site.

Silly videos aside, what is great about the Automotive Digital Marketing site is that you get a look into the struggles, marketing efforts, and insights of dealerships across the country. I find a lot of the discussions quite interesting and the use of video is sometimes educational, compelling, and baffling.

The ADM Forum is where a lot of the learning and insights exist on the site. Dealers engage in a range of topics and share their experiences and even strategies. It's a really well done area with a solid community following so you know there is some critical mass from those who are regulars.

Basically, the site is an excellent resource and probably the best resource on the web for getting a dealer perspective. It's the automotive dealer equivelant to the marketing industry's Ad Gabber site. I highly recommend joining the community if you are interested in what is happening at the Tier 3 level.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"Your GM Team" Wants You to Remain Calm

Now that Troy A. Clarke, President of GM North America, has gotten his wish by getting GM employees to successfully campaign the government for money (see this article in Wired back in November 2008.) He is now reaching out to the entire GM customer and potential customer database to send the email you see at left. This “Important Message from Troy Clarke…” that discusses three key messages the New GM wants people to know.

1. GM Dealers are still open for business.
2. GM Vehicles are backed by their warranties.
3. GM will build the “most compelling” vehicles with their remaining brands.

The letter from Troy is really Public Relations, not marketing, reaching out to make those interested in GM feel certain the company is standing behind its products. It’s not flashy, there are no graphics except a small thumbnail of a GM logo, and there is no attention grabbing email subject. There are no Calls to Action except one that invites the reader to the site, but it’s hardly a Call to Action in a marketing sense.

What I wonder about this email is who read it? It had a poor subject line: “An important message from Troy Clarke, President, GM North America”. My Yahoo! email inbox cut off part of Troy’s name and hence left out his GM job title from the subject line, so it looked like spam. The account was “Your GM Team”. Well, I don’t have a GM product so why would I have a “GM Team”? Fortunately, I read everything in the email account this was sent to, since I use the email to receive all marketing correspondences from companies I follow. I doubt most non-GM owners would have read the email and I’m sure many GM owners would’ve ignored it too.

Assuming someone actually read it, what did they come away with? Did the GM email “earn your trust in several ways”, like it sets out to do? I doubt much trust was earned. What I came away with is that the dealers are waiting for customers as the email stressed that dealers are open for business; implying GM corporate is hearing a lot from dealers that people don’t know they are open, so please tell them so customers will come.

GM vehicles are backed by a “U.S. government backed” warranty. This was just another reminder of management that is not led by GM, but by government bureaucrats. Any language stressing the association of government with GM is a negative as boycotts are already underway and I would argue that stressing the association is not helpful.

The last takeaway is that GM is committed to building a company Americans will be proud of. This seems extremely premature. Especially after just recently celebrating 100 years of business, GM is now telling potential customers that they are now planning to build products the world wants.

One criticism, I hear just about everywhere is: why has it taken GM so long to build products consumers want? This one I disagree with, as there are plenty of great products that GM builds right now. The Chevy Camaro, Pontiac G8, GMC Acadia, and several other products are strong competitive products but you would not know it from Troy’s email. Apparently, nothing is really compelling today. We all have to wait for that leaner GM to build great cars. So, as a potential customer I’m supposed to wait how long before this happens? But I thought you wanted me to come to all of those dealerships that are open for business right now?

I’m sure something had to be said to keep potential consumers interested in GM’s current products, but this letter lacked the essentials to keep people interested. Instead, tell me about the offers on the car I’m interested in (you obviously got my name from a form I filled out on a Pontiac G8.) Sure stress that warranties are still backed and include some contact information about the dealerships being open and staying in my local area. Unfortunately, Mr. Clarke’s form letter ignored the product I was interested in, gave me the impression no GM products are competitive today, and it demonstrated GM is a company that is barely alive with “government back” warranties and dealers who no one knows are open.

GM deserved better than this letter and my only hope is it ended up in a lot of spam folders. I really liked what GM's Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said the other day about GM's products not being what put them in bankruptcy; rather, it was legacy costs and the difficulty of fighting legacy perceptions about the GM brand that just are not true today. GM is not a bunch of weak, uncompetitive products and that really needed to be said in Clarke's message.

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.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I Guess the Idea Sounded Better on a PowerPoint

Hilo Chevrolet, of Hawaii, decided to roll-over their Asian competitors Honda and Hyundai by throwing monster truck wheels on a Chevy Suburban as a way to crush the competition. Unfortunately, the demonstration backfired when the Suburban blew a hydraulic hose and leaked vital fluid while the Honda remained waiting for more.

This just a week after a Ford dealer in South Carolina insulted Asians with his rant about Japanese cars being "Rice Ready, Not Road Ready." I get the not road worthy part, but what the hell does "Rice Ready" mean? It's another example of a gregarious dealer trying to show his triumphant patriotism in an idiotic manner.

With all of the fear and worry mounting from a month of bad Big Three press and questions surrounding a Bailout (that thank heavens finally came through), it is of little surprise that local marketing departments have lost their minds. The problem is neither of these two examples help the U.S. auto cause and, at worse, backfire. American cars have a poor history that many of us remember who owned 1970s and 1980s models. Repairing the reputations has been a tough road, but the good news is that quality issues have lessened dramatically, high safety ratings are not exclusively denominated by any country, and style is improving.

I'm personally excited to see such cars as the Pontiac G8, the 2010 Ford Fusion, the new Mustang, and great little roadsters like the Saturn Sky and Pontiac Solstice. These are all products I would love to have in my garage and are far more fun and interesting than a bland Toyota Camry or Honda Accord (though both are fine cars.)

It's just sad that some dealerships are losing their minds and making their brands look as bad as the all the complainers against them. What the U.S. auto manufacturers need is more myth busting around poor quality and less patriotic flag waving. People who do not work for a brand buy a car because it is the right choice for their needs and expanding some minds by showing American brands are worth looking at, because it's not 1985 anymore, is a good thing and good for a healthy competitive marketplace. So please park the monster truck and no more name calling.