Showing posts with label luxury. Show all posts
Showing posts with label luxury. 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?


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hyundai Debuts iPad Ad During The Oscars

It's an interesting sell for a $60k plus luxury car - feature the owner's manual. Manuals are something so mundane and expected, but what wasn't expected from a car manufacturer is an electronic version included in the glove-box on an Apple iPad.

But does it matter? Does the owner manual matter in a luxury sedan? Of course no one is going to buy a $60k car because they get a $500 tablet computer. The Hyundai Equus ad has nothing to do with attracting luxury car buyers, it's really about the brand showing they are being innovative and hopefully some of that innovation will rub-off on other shoppers who may consider another Hyundai vehicle, sans iPad.

Is the Equus iPad app really that innovative? There have been other versions of owner manuals including the cassette tape I received when I bought a 1997 BMW 318i. Sure it was no iPad, but it was better than flipping through the paper copy in the glove-box.

Some found the debut of Hyundai's Equus iPad Owner Manual ad during tonight's Oscars a "Brilliant" idea. It is a solid idea and a great way for owners to get to know their car better, especially with all the technology in today's cars. It is an excellent way to explain the complexity of today's vehicles. Fortunately, my former 1997 BMW didn't have today's electronics and could be expressed on a tape deck.

Of course you don't need to spend tens of thousands of dollars to experience the Equus iPad Owner Manual; instead, you just need an iPad and an iTunes store account. Click here to download the Owner Manual app.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Luxury Site Offers Cheap 2011 VW Jettas

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Extending Your Brand Through Song

Marketing has brought cars with music together for decades. Ads like Cadillac’s infamous Break Through spot featuring the energy of Led Zepplin along with a strong Baby Boomer emotional appeal or the wholesome goodness of Dina Shore singing “See the USA in your Chevrolet” all have their place in automotive and music history.

Some things never change, as there seems to be a surge in music and automotive marketing. It seems all brands – luxury and non-luxury – have found some sort of alignment with the passion music brings to a product and with so many genres of music and so many vehicles with different audiences finding the right fit may be easier than ever.

Shakira Shakes Her Hips for Seat

One of my favorite integrations comes from Volkswagen’s European Seat brand featuring Shakira. The campaign is developed around one song: Good Stuff. The Seat Good Stuff website is full of music, cars, games and chances to win tickets. Sharkira’s wild hair and long legs take prominence over the Seat Ibiza, which even has a Special Edition Good Stuff model to align with the campaign. Of all the current music and automaker integrations this is the only one that has built a car for sale to the public. Seat gets the prize for having not only the most elaborate, fanciful site but they also integrated things to the product level with tinted windows, iPods, and 16” “Sonda” wheels.

The campaign is further connected through a Good Stuff Facebook fan page that currently has 3,748 fans. Like most campaign Facebook sites there is very little engagement, especially from the brand as the team in charge only posted one wall post back in February.

Overall the integration is well executed, minus the lame attempt at a Facebook presence, with plenty of artist and vehicle alignment. Bringing the experience online further strengthens the brand’s sponsorship of Shakira’s European Tour. The site has several links to listen to music, find chances to win concert tickets, extend alignment with the brand through Seat’s Club Seat member website, and let’s users easily share the content with others through common social networking sites.

Ram Trucks' Letter Writing Request

Going after a completely different demographic than Seat, Chrysler Group’s new Ram Truck brand wants its potential customers to write letters to America’s soldiers at war. All letters will be collected at Zac Brown Band concerts and Ram Truck dealerships.

"This unique endeavor is derived from respect and admiration, from both the Ram Truck Brand and Zac Brown Band, for the men and women in the military," said Marissa Hunter, Head of Ram Truck Brand Communications, Chrysler Group LLC. "It is our hope that these letters serve as a source of appreciation and comfort."

In exchange for the letters, Ram Truck will give letter writers a free special Zac Brown Band CD entitled "Breaking Southern Ground."

All of this is for the launch of Ram’s Heavy Duty truck. The “Letters for Lyrics” campaign is fully integrated into the Ram Trucks shopping website. There is a page explaining what people need to do to get the free CD and several accompanying videos are viewable on the site along with links to the Ram Heavy Duty truck. There are a few icons available to promote social sharing, but they are not prominent. The main message here is to get people to write and visit a Ram Truck dealership. Hopefully, when someone comes to get a free CD, they’ll also take a test drive in any Ram or Dodge product (the two brands share the same dealer network.)

Lincoln Music

Early this year our team at Lincoln launched the Lincoln Music Experience Sweepstakes along with a Lincoln branded Music micro-site (in full disclosure: I’m the digital brand strategist for the Lincoln and Mercury brands at Team Detroit, in case you didn’t read my bio.) Over the past three years, music has played a significant role in the re-branding of Lincoln. The ads feature a space themed design treatment and usually a reinterpretation of a classic 80s song by a breakthrough brand.

To further extend Lincoln’s affiliation with music, the Lincoln and Music website originally was designed to promote a sweepstakes where one could win a Lincoln vehicle and tickets to see the band Shiny Toy Guns. Site visitors can also download music, explorer Lincoln’s THX II sound system, and had an opportunity to vote to choose the next up and coming band for the next Lincoln commercial.

And The Band Plays On

These three examples show how a variety of brands are using music to tell their product or brand story. Each vehicle segment also appeals to different target consumers and finds ways to reach out to potential customers through contests or giveaways.

All are driving consumers to the vehicle shopping pages and include some sort of social media link sharing. Since this is also about music, every site includes at least one downloadable MP3 music file to take the brand’s sound with its visitors.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

This Guy Is Definitely Not Getting a Lexus LFA

I think it’s a pretty good guess that the guy who owns this Lexus SC400 won’t be eligible for the exclusive Lexus LFA super car. It’s not that I’m assuming the person can’t come up with $350,000. Even if he could, it’s highly doubtful Lexus would let this SC400 owner buy one.

In the case of the LFA, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Lexus has come up with some non-financial criteria for those it will let buy the LFA. According to Paul Williamson, national manager at Lexus College, Toyota’s dealer training school, "We want it to be seen on the right roads, in front of the right restaurants and not just being enjoyed by one individual in their private garage."

To make that happen, the Lexus sales team is being very picky – oh sorry, exclusive – about who it doles out its 165 or so LFAs that will make it to the United States. “People selected to purchase the car will be based on factors such as the other cars they own, where they live, and how often and where they drive,” reports the Wall Street Journal.

This obsession with exclusivity is a tactic by Lexus to make the LFA one of the most hard to get products in the automotive world and put Lexus in the same breath as super car brands like Ferrari. In fact, this strategy from Lexus reminds me a lot of the difficulties of obtaining a new Ferrari.

Ferrari typically sells its car to existing Ferrari owners as it sells the few numbers of cars it produces to the Ferrari faithful. I’m not sure the brand asks where Ferrari owners will drive the cars or how often or restrict purchases by owner location, but who knows what selection criteria may go on behind the scenes.

So do these tactics help the Lexus brand increase its perceived exclusivity in the luxury marketplace? I doubt it. If anyone can go down the street and buy a Lexus IS-F or RX400h, the whole concept of hard to get is limited to just the LFA.

The LFA, however, is an amazing halo vehicle and is sure to get the Lexus faithful and aspirational more behind the accomplishments of the brand. The halo vehicle effect will provide some bragging rights for the owners of other Lexus products. Plus the LFA is an excellent embodiment of what the fairly new “F Performance” series of products represents and that should lead to some positive brand perception to products like the IS-F and future “F Performance” vehicles.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Lexus GX: Girl Power Promise Deflated

I received the above promotion for the All New Lexus GX in my email last night. It shows a Victoria Beckham / Grace Jones Super Woman who is identified as "The Driver: Trusted transporter of precious goods." It's raw girl power aged 20 years to fit the middle-aged target consumer. It's tough, stylish and strong.

Sure it's a bit funny coming from what most people consider the boring Luxury brand that builds quality vehicles, but this is marketing to the edgy luxury consumer and another example of luxury female focused marketing, similar to the recent BMW 5-Series GT.

Unlike the 5-Series GT marketing where the email marketing leads the interested to a site matching the email creative, Lexus brings the consumer to a brochure-ware site experience that leaves out all of the girl power messaging. Instead the consumer is showed a product demonstration overview video and provided several links to learn more about the car. Pretty stale stuff after the rock star promise.

So what happened to Victoria Beckham / Grace Jones Super Woman? She's gone and so is all of the "transporter of precious goods" messaging designed to appeal to the target consumer. What a shame because there was so much scrumptious fun that could have been if Lexus continued through with its creative idea.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chrysler Joins the Up-market Movement

Here we go again… Chrysler wants to become a luxury brand. Fiat is seeing the Chrysler brand “competing in the luxury space,” according to a recent article in US News & World Report.

This isn’t the first time, nor the last time, that a non-luxury brand will try to move into the luxury segment. Volkswagen was the most recent example of a brand that wanted to move up-market by bringing products like the VW Phaeton to dealerships that also served the needs of Beatle and Golf owners. VW’s former CEO Ferdinand Piech wanted to bring VW into the luxury segment with the Phaeton. The Phaeton, a $70-$100k boat of a sedan, left the States after two years of dismal sales; though, there are some rumors VW is going to try it again.

One of the big lessons VW gave the industry is that luxury isn’t about wood grain trim and chrome rings around every dial. No, luxury is about cache and service two things VW lacked. Sure a Jetta has some cache for a recent college graduate, but when you are 40 years old and still driving a Jetta it doesn’t exactly scream you are a successful business tycoon.

Please don’t get me wrong the Jetta is an excellent car and what you drive has little do with your success, for example Jeff Bezos CEO of Amazon drives an old Honda Accord. My point is more about the perceived lift a luxury brand gives its consumer and while pulling up in VW is nothing to be ashamed of it doesn’t carry the same social obnoxiousness of pulling up in a Mercedes, an obnoxiousness people will pay a premium for.

The problem brands like VW and Chrysler have with trying to become a luxury brand is that they see their products as having similar attributes of luxury cars: wood grain, premium leather, and advanced technologies all the things that a BMW or Mercedes is doing with their products. And while the gap of what makes a luxury car luxury is certainly diminished today, the whole perception issue has more to do with luxury than a car’s materials or wiring.

Part of the confusion is how far mass market cars have come in only a few short years. Take for instance the photo at right showing the 2002 Lexus GS and 2010 Ford Taurus interiors. Which one is the luxury car and which isn’t? The Taurus looks far more upscale than the Lexus from only a few years ago, but no one would consider Ford a luxury brand.

Whether a brand deserves to be luxury or not is irrelevant. Exclusivity is a big part of being a luxury brand and a lot of that has to do with higher pricing which by definition excludes others from purchase. But you just can’t slap a $5,000 increase on the sticker and say you’re luxury. If it only it were that simple.

“Perceived value—through quality of design, materials, and manufacture—is another key component of the luxury goods equation,” writes Harvard Business School’s Julia Hanna whose article “Luxury Isn’t What It Used to Be” describes luxury’s changing landscape. The key word here is “perceived” and changing people’s minds to perceive your brand as luxury can waste a considerable amount of marketing dollars, product ideas and time. Chrysler might have an easier time convincing Boston Red Sox fans to root for the Yankees, than trying to take their brand "a notch above Lincoln, a notch above Cadillac.”

It will be interesting to see how Chrysler goes about pulling this off. Another mass-market brand, Hyundai, will be trying the same thing at the same time as they introduce a $60k plus car, the Equus in 2010.

Hyundai, which is becoming a formidable competitor to Toyota (read the Auto Extremist for more on that), has definitely improved its product line with the recent Genesis sedan and coupe, but the Equus will be the ultimate test at redefining the Hyundai brand.

One issue Hyundai and Chrysler will both have to consider is the importance service has on luxury automotive branding. VW had a big issue meeting the needs of Phaeton consumers who had to share service bays with lower end consumers and a VW service staff that wasn’t used to meeting the expectations of luxury owners.

As a personal anecdote, I used to own a Chrysler and can attest it will take a large investment to bring my local Chrysler dealership up to the same standards as the Lexus and BMW dealerships I now frequent. Service waiting area, dealership showroom and most importantly the service employees’ customer attention all need addressing. All of this is part of becoming a luxury brand and before any brand perception can change, customer service needs to be a cornerstone of the transition, more than body panel fit and finish.

Chrysler may be sourcing some products from the European Lancia brand as part of their relationship with Fiat. Lancia is a virtually unknown brand in the States and not a luxury brand in Europe, but the Lancias are seen as a more premium line in the Fiat family. Perhaps Chrysler can convince U.S. consumers that these new European products are luxury models that deserve luxury cache and hopefully luxury price tags.

We shall learn more come November 4 when Chrysler will announce its Five-Year Business Plan. Until then, Chrysler will continue to be a mass-market brand ready to leap into the challenges of brand reconstruction. Good luck.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Luxury Certified Pre-Owned Sales Up! (really)

From the Wall Street Journal, Sales of Used Luxury Cars Rise: “Demand for used luxury cars is remarkably strong compared to the wilting new vehicle market. The trends suggest affluent car buyers aren't paralyzed. But they are searching for a new balance between saving money and hanging on to the lifestyle to which they became accustomed in better times.”

Picking up a used luxury car is a good idea in today’s market where Used Exotics are Going for Honda Accord Money.

So who is pushing certified pre-owned (CPO) in their marketing? BMW, who is mentioned in the article, is running a promotion for 0.9% financing. Lexus is doing a 2.9% promotion n the RX model. Other brands are also providing financing incentives across their CPO fleet.

I did a quick survey to see how the luxury brands promote CPO on their homepages. Of luxury brands in the USA, 77% have CPO links on their main navigation. Some brands make it a bit more difficult to locate pre-owned models. Mercedes-Benz is one who does not include a link to CPO from their main navigation; though, they do promote the content using a link from the main image on the homepage (it’s a simple small-font text link.)

Bentley actually makes the most prominent promotion of their used-vehicle offerings. There are two prominent access points to used car listings. Bentley suffered a new vehicle sales drop of 20% for all of 2008, so moving product, even used is imperative to keep sales going in this economy.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

L/Studio Advertises on Facebook

While responding to a status update this evening on Facebook, I noticed a Facebook advertisement for the Lexus L/Studio site. The best part is that the status update I was responding to was on the topic of the Real Housewives of Orange County, leading me to believe Lexus has bought up some interesting keywords around the guilty pleasures of bad reality television.

There is no mention of Lexus in the ad. The advertisement features Lisa Kudrow, ignoring any mention of the automotive brand. This is obviously a lifestyle play by Lexus and one that is still receiving some investment as it looks to find an audience.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Non-Automotive Video Content from Lexus L/Studio

What makes auto manufacturers think they make great film studios? I think all of this goes back to BMW Films and their well-received series from several years ago. Unfortunately, Lexus has decided to throw their hat in with L/Studio, a new web experience that features several unique webisodes and documentaries that is “an eclectic collection of unique perspectives meant to inspire you… and to help you innovate in your own way.”

Now when I think about innovation I don’t think smarmy, poorly written comedy webisodes staring Lisa Kudrow (of Phoebe from Friends fame.) Nor do I think about brief documentaries about high-heeled shoes, so it isn’t clear what inspires innovation from the content on L/Studio. There is one video called “The Long Run” that covers the conditioning of an ultra marathon runner but this is really more about motivation than it is about innovation. If inspiring innovation was really their cue, the documentaries provided by Acura on the Acura Advance campaign are probably more inline with Lexus’ goal. At least with the Acura site, one gets a glimpse into the lives of truly innovative people who are impacting our world and not just some trite attempt at comedy.

Besides content not really fitting the objectives set by Lexus, whom is this supposed to appeal to? Since this is a luxury brand, it must be trying to appeal to luxury buyers and content like the baby boomer Ray Manzarek from The Doors segments or the high-heel documentary certainly reach an older more established consumer. The high-heel documentary that is currently being run as an online media spot on YouTube with the message of “The Height of Obsession” and a pair of black stiletto heels appeals to any woman I suppose, considering I have yet to meet a woman who isn’t into shoes, but once consumers get to L/Studio do they ever go back?

Repeat visits is something Lexus is expecting since there is a whole registration process one can do where you can add friends from L/Studio’s current user community, recommend videos, or mark some as favorites. This part of the site is the most baffling. Am I really going to have any social network here? Most likely not. I found only one user of the site who made a recommendation of a video after looking at about 20 random profiles using the “Find a user” tool. A social community online is usually an expression of your offline world, you “friend” people you know and with some minor exceptions you reach beyond your real world social networks. The lack of any real networking on L/Studio is really not surprising since the ‘invite a friend’ capability is hard to find on the site and inviting friends to sites is something people rarely do. And if L/Studio is all about attracting a 30-40 something luxury consumers, inviting friends and engaging in a social network on an automotive funded video site with limited content is even more highly unlikely.

So, what should Lexus have done with all of this content? They at least should’ve made the video content more viral by allowing viewers to post the videos within social networking sites instead of assuming people would become part of a L/Studio community and invite all their friends. The video content should’ve also been posted on YouTube to get the content into a place where video is most expected to be on the web. So, extending content into more likely environments instead of driving consumers to a campaign site with an unknown, vague brand like L/Studio seems futile.

I also think the mission of L/Studio to “inspire innovation” is really lost by the content that was developed for the site. The content is just all over the place and really there is no common thread or anything that really inspires one. Most of it is contrived, sitcom-like content that looked like a way to keep writers busy during the 2007-08 writers strike and the documentaries really are not that captivating, and I’m a huge fan of documentary film. So content alignment to the goals of the site really needs to be addressed. Is it entertainment? Is it motivation? Is it for musicians? What is it? It isn’t clear and unfortunately leads to a site with no defined audience, which like most sites with undefined audiences will live a brief life since it will fail to gain a vibrant audience.

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