Showing posts with label hybrid. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hybrid. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Audi Puts Claire Danes in Prison to Sell You Diesel

Audi just launched their latest campaign promoting TDI Diesel vehicles to Americans.  It's definitely not their first attempt to raise the profile of diesel in a market where gas prices are still in the $3-$4 range and more and more options such as hybrids, electric and high-mileage gas cars continue to provide choices for the fuel conscious consumer.

The latest campaign features actor Claire Danes in an Orange is the New Black prison inspired theme where Danes has her name mispronounced as the running joke in the long form ad. She imagines travel to an award show with a chauffeur. Or what a drive would be like solo in the new Audi A6 TDI.

All of it ends in the ability of the Audi to drive 700 miles using one tank of gas. It's a long three plus minutes to get to the final payoff with lots of beauty shots of the Audi driving the open road. Unlike a lot of fuel saving vehicle ads there is no information about how many MPGs the car produces or what benefits diesel may have over other fuel economical cars, just that it's better than driving with an odd over-sharing limo driver.

Today's Business Insider wrote about Audi ignoring the easy way to promote diesel, inspired after sitting through this celebrity inundated commercial. The writer suggests Audi should dump the ambiguous "TDI" nomenclature and just tag the cars as "Diesel" on the car itself. This simple move would show that diesels are quiet, attractive, and not smelly.

Personally, I like the ad "The Station." While it may not promote solid MPGs or tell me why I should buy TDI over EV, PEV, or a Hybrid, it definitely is memorable and tells me Audi makes diesel cars, not that an automotive enthusiast needs a reminder.

So what do you think? Do you like the Claire Danes ad and Audi's latest approach to selling diesel?


Friday, April 22, 2011

Lexus Sponsors YouTube's Indy Film Content

YouTube is making a play for developing custom content or content that can't be found elsewhere online as it defends its competitive video position against rival Hulu. Part of that defense is the YouTube Screening Room which has been around since 2008, but appears to be making a comeback with YouTube finding new sponsors to promote the films.

What is the Screening Room? From the channel's description, it features "top films from around the world to find the audiences they deserve... While the majority of these films have played at international film festivals, occasionally you'll find films that have never before screened for wide audiences."

Today American Express is sponsoring the Screening Room, but last Tuesday Lexus did its marketing sponsorship duty and brought the Screening Room content to the YouTube audience with a front page banner ad, intro commercial before the film played, and some banners promoting the all-new CT200h filled the screen.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Celebrity" Ride and Drives

Celebrity is back. Okay, it never really went away, but it seems there is a new spin on how to get celebrities interested in trying out a new car. Pair the celebrity with an interesting personality who can keep the conversation interesting and also find some time to highlight the features in the car.

For Lexus, the formula centered around the attractive comedian Whitney Cummings driving celebrities - from all walks of life - including a skateboarder, actress, and a social media author in the all-new CT 200h. The CT 200h is a new hybrid hatchback that arrives at dealerships in March 2011. There isn't much new with the CT 200h, but Whitney is a great host and makes most of the videos watchable. She definitely is the star more so than the car.

The CT 200h campaign is called the Darker Side of Green, but they extended the campaign by calling the drives Darkcasting. Why Darkcasting? It is described as "the first ever in-car after-dark talk show." I'm sure the claim of "first ever" will go unchallenged. Each drive takes place at night and the cast is Whitney as passenger and her "celebrity" driver.

You can see social media author Brian Solis in this video:

Chevrolet Casts "The Perez Hilton of the East Coast"

Chevrolet includes lifestyle and celebrity blogger Micah Jesse as a key person in their latest campaign Cruze-Arati.

Unfortunately, Micah mistakenly assumes he is doing the "first mobile talk show." Perhaps he can claim the first ever in-car daylight talk show. I'm fairly certain that claim is still available.

Micah does an in-car interview with "celebrity" Kelly Bensimon from the Real Housewives of New York City.

One odd difference is how Micah interviews Kelly on the side of the road. Did Chevy's lawyers not allow the interview to happen while the car is in drive?

Cruze-Arati is a bit more than just in-car interviews. In fact, most of it revolves around six topical experts talking on subjects like Technology, Music, Sports and Fashion. It's mainly about socially active people driving around in a Cruze and showcasing some "crazy" stories around each of the topics. There is even a Twitter account, @Cruzearati, to follow all the antics.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Honda Goes the Gamer Route Again, But Are They Missing the Mark?

Honda is the online gaming brand of automotive marketing. Their latest effort is part of the Honda CR-Z launch called 3-Mode Mania. The game gets its name from the three different driving modes available on the car: Sport, Normal and Econ. It's an interesting way to showcase the different driving behaviors of the vehicle, unfortunately the game play is so basic one hardly notices any difference when selecting the different modes.

The Tron-like driving path is very simple with thin red lines displaying the track and you drive what looks like a Monopoly piece car; though, there is a choice of colors to personalize the experience. I tried the game a few times and found it a bit dull since it was too simplistic and like I stated earlier the modes really didn't provide much distinction in game play.

I do find it interesting though that Honda went with an online game for a 2-seat hybrid vehicle. The game for the Honda Fit made a bit more sense since the Fit did market to a younger audience, but the CR-Z seems like a third-car for empty-nesters. Unfortunately, it won't attract the former CRX fans as the CR-Z really missed the mark on being a reincarnation of that excellent, sporty 2-seater.

So my bet is the CR-Z is more likely to be bought by an over-50 demographic with a decent amount of disposible income who want a mild hybrid with a bit of a sporty feel. Personally, it was difficult just writing that last sentance because I'm still not sure who will really buy this car since it lacks decent hybrid numbers, missed the CRX reinvented crowd, and only sits 2 people without all the fun of typical topless or fast third car.

I'd also guess the target consumer is not much of a gamer, unless the brand decided to focus on youth; even though, hybrids barely make a dent in the younger age groups. Therefore, the CR-Z buyers are not likely to play the online game 3-Mode Mania. Perhaps Honda should rethink doing a game every time they launch a small car and instead focus on the activities of their likely buyers. Just a thought...


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lexus Goes Dark Green with Its Latest Hybrid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Lexus Wants You to be an Advertising Innovator

Think you can do automotive advertising? Lexus has partnered up with Current to have video content creators develop an advertisement for a Lexus hybrid vehicle. The prize is $2,500 for the winning VCAM (Video Created Ad Message) selected by Lexus. Plus the winner’s commercial will air on Current TV in the U.S.

Current has been doing these VCAM contests for about four years and this is another innovative effort with their advertiser/sponsors. The VCAM program is a way to get novice, semi-professional video producers engaged with brands in a new and innovative way.

The marketing team is reaching out to film students and have held a couple chats on Current’s website to get people excited about the contest.

Last week Lexus and Team One, Lexus’ creative agency, held a chat session with those interested in participating. You can listen to the chat via a MP3 file. There were about ten people on the January 8th call.

I do love how the creative team and brand held open conversations with people who may be participating in the contest. It gives participants a chance to ask questions about what the brand is looking for and why the brand decided to do a unique approach like this.

The approach also allows the creative to get more “unexpected” as one of the agency leads pointed out in the goals of the program during last week’s chat. Producers can do something that isn’t the typical car ad. It will be interesting to see how those not in the automotive industry will interpret an automotive product. It will be interesting to see if that nets something beyond what we all normally see in automotive marketing.

Contest Requirements:
  • Your VCAM should start with a sentence relating ‘h’ to your subject: ‘h’ is _____________” (e.g. “h is building a better mousetrap”) You do not have to use the Lexus ‘h’ icon.

  • Incorporate the Lexus endtag below at the end of your VCAM.

  • 60 second maximum (including endtag). Remember, longer is not necessarily better.

  • Showing a Lexus Hybrid vehicle is not required.

  • Upload deadline: Monday, February 1st at 12pm (noon) Pacific Time.
More details here.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Is Chevy Dorking Up the Volt's Vibe?

First it was the announcement of 230 MPG with a giant happy face outlet plug. Now it's a campy, Suzanne Vega sounding song with a lot of whistling that is promoting GM's buzz workhorse - the Chevy Volt.

Electric Vehicle (EV) technology is not easy to explain and is definitely creating a lot of confusion as companies promote ridiculous MPG claims and even crazier torque claims.
"Our goal is to craft that education in a manner that is family friendly (as it should be because we are America’s original mass /heart brand), entertaining and simple to understand for a rather sophisticated product.

A Volt song helps us to achieve those objectives. 'Chevy Volt and Me' explains what Volt is all about as a better EV in simple friendly terms," explains Maria Roher, GM’s director of global Volt marketing.
So let me get this straight. To explain the complexity of the Volt's three-phase AC induction motor rated at 120 kilowatts, or 160 hp, powered by a 6-foot-long, 375-pound array of lithium-ion cells mounted low along the Volt's floorpan requires a whistle laden, rhyme challenged song to help the common person understand what the Volt is all about?

Now what rhymes with lithium-ion? Conan O'Brien? Uruguayan? Scion?

I don't know. Seems to me the target Volt customer is going to be an early adopter and someone very knowledgable, well-educated and looking to better understand the details
of Volt's green footprint and technological advances. Perhaps a see through diagram of the powertrain from Popular Mechanics would be more helpful.

Nissan's LEAF effort is much more appealing to an educated audience looking for answers about this whole new Electric Vehicle segment. For the general population, Nissan went with a simple, concise video to educate new users about the vehicle.

Sure the LEAF doesn't get jammed in your head like a Lady Gaga song, but one quickly understands what it is, what it is not, and how it functions. For the more advanced mind, the LEAF site can be used to dive deeper into answers from the novice to the intermediate shopper.

Of course I understand the Chevy Volt song isn't the only effort Chevy is doing to promote the Volt. In fact, a lot is going on to share information about the Volt and the GM team has been releasing every minute detail about the Volt to keep the buzz going.

Chevy Volt has it's own presence on where visitors can get answers to several common questions about the car. A Popular Mechanics like diagram is also available to show how the Volt works. A few videos, images and even a full Volt Community called VoltAge is available to keep up with the latest on all things Volt.

I just wonder if a few of the marketing efforts like the "Chevy Volt and Me" song and the What Is 230? website will define the car in an unflattering way. And after the car sells to well-off early adopters, the Chevy Volt has to appeal to the general population in a cool, compelling way to make it as desirable as the concept car it originated from.

UPDATE: This is really getting weird. The GMVolt YouTube channel posted the "Chevy Volt Dance" from the LA Auto Show on December 13, 2009 complete with breakdancing.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Vote For Your Friend's Lavish Lifestyle

A common theme lately is the marketing contest that asks you to engage your social network. A couple months back it was Maserati trying to get friends and family to vote for your garage so you could win a photo shoot with Architectural Digest. This time around it is Lexus generating awareness for their new luxury hybrid the 250h. But instead of some fame in a magazine spread, Lexus' grand prize winner will get the keys to a 250h for a full year.

So what's this all about?

The new contest idea is to get one person to enter the contest and then promote their entry in the contest by socially "advertising" their entry by getting their friends to vote for them. The early adopters of this approach are the photo contests. Over the past several years I have received a mountain of vote for my kid or pet requests from those in my social network. Well now automotive brands are adopting this vote for me and I can win something tactic.

From a brand's perspective, why just do the standard sweepstakes entry form when you can now tap into someone's social media network. It's better to get out into the social media environment through sites like Facebook where people probably have a similar demographic makeup with their network. This way, as a brand, getting one entry into a contest becomes a way to get their friends to visit your site, which generates awareness for your product, to a broader audience. It's a very attractive approach for marketers who are always trying to increase views and engagement on their websites.

Lexus has decided to follow this approach to promote their new hybrid. I noticed the contest from a post a former coworker of mine had on his Facebook news feed. He had a link to his entry for him to win a Lexus.

What really caught my eye though was the first comment someone left for him. "You kiddin'? More spam for you, no lexus for me? I don't think so!" This is what has always bothered me about the vote for me giveaway contests. What's in it for the voters?

To vote for your friend you must register your name and email on the Lexus 250h site. Sure you can check the box to not receive communications from Lexus, but this still creates a barrier for many and people still don't feel that comfortable leaving their contact information when their is no benefit for them.

Also, in a time now when luxury living is becoming less socially acceptable there is a concern that vote for me to get luxury item x is a bit of a repulsive proposition when your social network may have lost a job or home to foreclosure recently.

One ploy that does lessen the luxury-pampering stigma is when users or brands tie in some kind of charitable element to the contest. One Lexus 250h contestant claims she will give half of her financial benefit if she wins to a charitable organization. This way your contest voters are now doing something beneficial for all, not just for their friend who wants a luxury car.

Charitable pleas are rare, leaving the question: What's in it for your voters? This is the one fatal flaw of the approach. That may not matter though if the social media outreach is getting your product in front of others radar. And to that point, my former co-worker’s entry into the Lexus contest definitely made me aware of the contest and the vehicle which may not have happened through the typical banner ad.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Toyota Wants You to Create Your Own Hybrid Site

I had no idea what was until today. A desire to read about Manhattan's media news and gossip never became part of my Internet routine. Apparently, the team buying media for the 2010 Toyota Prius is up on New York City gossip and the other properties that make up Gawker Media, that surprisingly includes the automotive blog Jalopnik. A few well-known technology blogs like Gizmodo and LifeHacker are also part of the network.

The Prius team wants you to create your own Hybrid site in the Gawker network. You can checkout My Gawker Hybrid Site, but please don't assume you'll learn a thing about hybrid or green. I couldn't choose any content feeds that were specifically hybrid related nor can I create content relevant to hybrid; instead, all I could do was choose feeds from existing media properties owned by

Apparently, I can someday make comments once I have "auditioned to be commenter". Audition? Maybe this is a New York thing where social media participation is like getting into Studio 54 in the late 1970s? How I audition isn't clear. I haven't received an email from Gawker explaining how the site works, nor has Toyota sent me anything after setting up my own Hybrid site.

The only sense I can make about this whole site integration is the following. Maybe hybrid on Gawker is a reference to hybrid content in the sense of mixing content or different elements of news from various sources; instead of the automotive sense of the word referring to cars running two engines - one gas and one electric?

Besides some odd online media decisions the Toyota Prius is doing very well with its core audience with over 75,000 pre-orders and waiting lists for the car in Japan. The national TV ads look great too with their creative concept that brings a human element into the typical green fields, blue skies and bright flowers found in just about every hybrid commercial.

If there are any thoughts on what the Gawker link is that makes this work for Toyota Prius, please share. I just don't get why someone would want to create a Hybrid site on Gawker. What purpose does a Gawker user site accomplish? If it's just a portal, it's a very weak one at best. Perhaps, it's just that the MRI score for the Gawker media properties indexed high for the target consumer Toyota is going after and there really isn't much thought beyond letting users create a site.

Other thoughts? Any Gawker site users out there who can enlighten this blogger?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Smug Shoppers Cutting Back

Oil has dropped considerably, losing 50% of its price since hitting $100 a year ago. A global economic crisis is setting in and consumers are cutting back on their auto buying in a dramatic way. This change has dramatically impacted hybrid sales. Yes, hybrids - the darlings of the automotive industry as consumers were supposed to move to green vehicles in a major way after seeing $4 plus gas prices in 2008.

Well guess what? Gas prices fell more than half in late 2008 and hybrid sales followed with a 53% drop in sales from a year earlier, compared to a 37% drop in car sales overall. Go figure, someone isn't as willing to pay a $3,000 - $5,000 markup for adding an electric engine to a gasoline powered car when their wealth is falling and their job stability is in doubt.

All of this change should shift how hybrid cars are marketed.

You have to wonder first if the hybrid message is losing its cache with the newer innovative technologies like Electric Vehicle (EV) cars coming in 2010 that will certainly be the focus, desire of the green consumers. I also question if hybrids will simply lose sales because its consumers are those in the lower $100k household income range that are being impacted considerably by the loss of value in their McMansions and stock portfolios and are already cutting back considerably on luxury labels like Coach, Williams-Sonoma, and Juicy Couture. Hybrids have come to be more of a status symbol than a true revolution in automotive design. Don't get me wrong, they are a step in the right direction, just not a major shift since they still require gasoline engines to function.

The marketing shift should focus beyond just green-minded consumers. I think Toyota has done well with their Lexus Power of h campaign, but it is solely tailored to a green consumer and does not extend beyond them. Certainly, green consumers are already aware of the hybrids and it is now more about reaching to the customer who isn't buying green products and showing them that hybrids aren't all flowers, blue skies and green valleys. It's about making hybrid a more intelligent choice (e.g. innovative technology, proven efficiencies) and showing hybrid isn't something that is just for wimps or smug greens.

It will be interesting to see how hybrid marketing evolves in the coming years, especially as hybrids start spanning different vehicle segments. Cadillac is definitely struggling with its Escalade Hybrid, but that doesn't surprise anyone. The good news is that cars like the Tesla Roadster (full electric) and the new Ford Fusion Hybrid aren't tin can econoboxes or vanilla looking sedans. Some style is finally coming into the green vehicle segment.