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March Marketing Madness: Nissan, Chevy, Dodge

Nissan’s Snowy Deja Vu
  It’s certainly been a winter for record-breaking snow and nasty weather. So maybe it’s no surprise that Nissan used a snowy street scene with snowmen for a TV commercial to launch its redesigned 2014 Rogue.
The spot, which aired first in Canada and then in the USA touts the all-wheel-drive of the new Rogue compact SUV. TBWA created the commercial, dubbed “Winter Warrior.” Both the :60 and :30 versions show evil snowmen attacking a Rogue driver on a snowy street. The production resembles a thrilling movie chase scene. The motorist manages to escape, naturally, because of the AWD system.
Have a look if you haven’t seen it yet


It is a pretty fun spot that shows off the Rogue’s drivability on snow-covered roads and cleverly sneaks in its three-row seating.
The only problem is that this commercial is so VERY similar to one American Suzuki had a few years back for the all-wheel-drive version of its Kizashi sport sedan. Suzuki’s commercial, called Wicked Weather,” ran in 14 key US markets during the Super Bowl in 2011. So it got pretty good exposure. And it ran tons of other times before and after the Big Game. Even Suzuki’s snowmen, created by Siltanen & Partners, look an awfully lot like Nissan’s.
Judge for yourself

TBWA creatives could have dreamed this one up on their own. Or could it be that somewhere in the back of their brain’s memory file there was a glint recalling an ad with snowmen attacking a car with AWD?
Coincidence? We may never know, but you have to admit the executions are very, very close.
American Suzuki Motor Corp. isn’t likely to make much of a ruckus. The automaker is phasing out its car sales operations here in Chapter 11 bankruptcy court.
Chevy’s Crazy Kids
Speaking of coincidences, a Chevrolet Cruze commercial is getting lots of attention- in a good way. The spot, called “Speed Chaser,” for the Cruze broke during the Academy Awards broadcast and was made for a mere $4,000.
The :60 spot was created by South independent Korean filmmaker Jude Chun, who bested 72 other submissions from around the world in Chevy’s MOFILM , a global community of indie filmmakers. It shows children making the commercial, using props and special effects. The ad has a written on-screen disclaimer: “Children should not play in or around vehicles.” That was probably added by GM lawyers.
In one scene, one of the kids uses his hands to flip over a model-size Cruze, much to the dismay of a young female back-seat passenger. Have a peek

Many ads with cute children are well received with viewers and this one is no different. But Chevy got into big hot water in 2004 for a slick Corvette commercial that broke during the Summer Olympics. Called “A Boy’s Dream,” it showed a young boy putting the sports car through its paces, even taking the Vette airborn as a young girl behind the wheel of another Vette passes him in mid-air going in the other direction. It only ran once. General Motors quickly buckled under pressure from safety and advocacy groups afraid young kids would try to drive their parents’ cars like banchees.
It was a mistake in my mind to pull the ad from Campbell-Ewald in Warren, Michigan because it was clearly a dream sequence. If your kid doesn’t know the difference between reality and dreams you have bigger problems than this commercial.

Yes, this ad also had a written, on-screen disclaimer:  “This is a dream. Do not drive without a license. Obey all traffic laws.”
What a difference a decade makes, eh?
Dodge’s New Celeb Mouth
When it comes to Chrysler Group ads, one can expect to see celebrities.
Now here comes Joan Rivers stumping the beauty of Dodge-brand models in regional dealer ads from Doner in suburban Detroit.

JoanRivers

They’re part of the automaker’s multi-brand “Award Season (sales) Event.”
In the spot for the Dart, Rivers touts the car’s beauty and power. “Look at the leather seats,” she coos. “They are softer than the leather on my face,” says Rivers, who regularly pokes fun at all the plastic surgery she’s had as host of “Fashion Police.”
The spots are airing through April in some 122 markets.
The comic’s appearance in the Dodge ad is shocking to a lot of people. “Are they reaching out to 70-year-olds,” wondered a Facebook poster.
The answer is no.
Rivers, whose career has spanned 5 decades, has managed to keep herself in the public eye and is winning over a younger generation. Rivers and these commercials should generate more positive buzz for Dodge.
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You can follow me, Jean Halliday, on LinkedIn and Facebook

On Twitter: @jhal2001

 

The Best Global Auto Ads

Drum roll, please.

The One Club today revealed the best international auto advertising  during the press days of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The non-profit group, dedicated to recognizing advertising creativity, honored winners of the Automotive Advertising of the Year Awards.

BEST PRINT-OUTDOOR

Fiat and its Brazilian shop Leo Burnett Tailor in Sao Paulo topped the print-outdoor category. Their winning campaign, dubbed “Letters,” carried the safety message, warning of the dangers of texting while driving. The stark ads showed letters of the alphabet and used the negative space around the letters for people or things a driver might not see while texting and driving.

FiatOneShowWinnerThe One Club received 550 entries for all categories, which were rated in two rounds on a scale of 1-to-10 by a panel of 50 creative directors and journalists, including myself. Judges were to consider the originality of the ads, whether the work moves the brand forward and whether it creates high brand recall. The One Club said near the end of the second and final round of judging that the scores of the 56 semi-finalists were “very close.”

BEST ONLINE VIDEO

Honda Motor Co. Ltd. in Japan bested the online video category with its 1:29 short film from Dentsu in Tokyo called “Sound of Honda/Ayrton Senna 1989.” The video honors Senna, the late, legendary F1 race car driver and his fastest lap in 1989, when he set the world record qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix on the Suzuka circuit. Thanks to Honda in-vehicle technology, first introduced in the ’80s and used in Senna’s famous lap, the automaker was able to recreate that famous lap using engine sounds and LED lights at the Suzuki Circuit.

It may seem a big geeky, but it’s very cool.

Honda said it got more than 2 million views from Brazil, the US, Japan and the rest of world in just 2 months. Senna, a Brazilian, died 19 years ago after a crash during the San Marino Grand Prix. He drove a Honda-powered car for the Marlboro McLaren team in all 3 of his World Champion titles.

Last month, this video won the Grand Prize for the Entertainment Division of the 17th Japan Media Arts Festival.

BEST EXPERIENTIAL

BMW North America tied with Toyota Motor Sales USA’s Toyota Division in this category.

BMW wanted to build awareness for its upcoming, futuristic new i electric sub brand. BMWoneshowWinner2

Working with its agency, kbs+ in Manhattan, BMW created a digital storefront “Window Into the Near Future” at street level in New York City. As cars passed in the window’s reflection, they were turned into BMW’s i3 and plug-in hybrid BMW i8 concept vehicles.

Toyota wanted to show bust the misperception that its Tundra pickup wasn’t as tough as its rivals from Detroit. Toyota and its ad agency, Saatchi & Saatchi in Los Angeles, partnered in a unique opportunity – using the Tundra to tow the 300,000-pound Space Shuttle Endeavour to its new home at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

Toyota got the word out with online videos and TV ads, which generated tons of news media coverage and social media buzz. Thousands of people lined the streets of Los Angeles to watch the pickup tow the shuttle a quarter-mile to the Science Center.

The Tundra Endeavour Campaign generated 131 million Twitter impressions, a billion unpaid media impressions and Tundra sales jumped by 31%. A Twitter drive raised more than $400,000 for the Science Center.

BEST INTERACTIVE

Hyundai Motor America found a way to spread the word about 2 new Elantra models, the Coupe and the GT. Hyundai’s ad agency, Innocean USA in Huntington Beach, California, created the “Driveway Decision Maker.”

Consumers could choose an Elantra to take on a virtual test drive through a colorful digital world and land in their own driveway. Using  Google Street View, people could also see the Elantra in front of any location in the world, including the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Hyundai said the effort helped lift Elantra to the brand’s best-selling model.

BEST TELEVISION

Honda and Wieden+Kennedy in London hit another one out of the park in Europe with a clever corporate ad that showed off the company’s innovation and products.

The “Hands” film, aimed at the UK,  is simply a delight to watch and was one I highly praised here in AutoAdOpolis last September.

The film went viral and has already tallied more than 10-million views on You Tube.

People’s Choice

Nearly 20,000 visitors to The One Club’s site tapped Honda Motor Europe’s “Illusions” TV spot as Public Choice winner. Created by McGarryBowen in London, the ad for the launch of Honda’s CR-V 1.6 Diesel showed a montage of optical illusions to position the SUV as a big car experience with smaller car costs.

Bravo to all the winners!

Last year was the first year The One Club honored top car advertising during the press days of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. In 2012, the group presented awards to the top 10 ads from the prior 25 years.
MAKING TRACKS: Congrats to Paul Edwards,  promoted at General Motors to VP of Chevrolet marketing in the US. Edwards, 44, had been executive director of GM’s global marketing since 2010. He joined GM in 1992 and succeeds Chris Perry, who resigned.
MAKING TRACKS II: Mike Jackson, has been named to the new role of president of Phelps, an independent, integrated marketing firm in Los Angeles. Among the stints during Jackson’s 30-year career in the ad business, was VP-marketing and advertising for GM in North America.
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Mystique of Dodge’s Ron Burgundy Blitz

Dodge’s over-the-top Durango blitz starring Will Ferrell, seems to be heading into the realm of cult status.

The campaign features dozens of video with the actor reprising his 2004 film role as the obnoxious 1970s’ “Anchorman” Ron Burgundy.

Yes, Chrysler Group CMO Olivier Francois is at it again, showing his penchant for using big names in advertising.

The Dodge brand’s irreverent big tone and attitude make Ron Burgundy the perfect pitchman for the new 2014 Dodge Durango,” he said.

The Dodge brand irreverent? Since when? I do recall the irreverent “that thing got a Hemi in it” Dodge ads with comic Jon Reep. But that was back in the DaimlerChrysler days. And those Hemi ads were for the Dodge Ram. Now Ram is a separate brand from Dodge.

Chrysler said it didn’t pay anything for Ferrell to appear in the campaign. That’s because this is a co-promotional deal. Every Durango ad touts the upcoming “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” movie with Farrell, arriving around Christmas. Don’t kid yourself, Chrysler is spending tens of millions of dollars in media promotion to promote this movie for Paramount Pictures.

The buzz for the Durango push has been incredible, already attracting 15 million views on YouTube since hitting national television in October. The media push includes print, Facebook and Twitter.

If you have somehow miraculously missed seeing any of these commercials from Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, here is one of the latest, posted December 7, touting the Durango’s good looks

In just 4 days this attracted almost 90,400 views.

Dodge’s ad agency, Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, worked with Farrell’s Funny Or Die website to write the spots.

The news coverage of this enormous campaign has been mind-boggling. Traffic to Durango’s web site has jumped by 80%. Most important, Durango sales have increased dramatically: 59% higher in October and 36% in November versus the same year-ago months.

And what would a major blitz be without a sweepstakes? There was also a 6-day online contest last month to win a 2014 Durango and other prizes. Visitors to Handsonronburgundy.com had to keep their “hands” (via their mouse) on the Anchorman the longest. The contest kicked off online with a YouTube video that, even though the contest is over, is still attracting views, now topping 287,000.

Are you laughing yet?

Several fellow reporters have told come to me puzzled about the work, saying “I don’t get it.” They, like myself, are baby boomers.

Simply put, this work is not for us. It’s aimed at a younger target.

My unscientific research reveals that younger people have a very different sense of humor and definition of funny than boomers. Think of TV’s “The Office.” The show is wildly popular even though plenty of us boomers don’t “get” it.

And thus it is with Mr. Burgundy and Dodge.

I must admit that the work breaks through the clutter. With some 70 executions- how could it not? The Burgundy character in his tacky outfit, bad hair and clueless attitude pulls viewers in like a magnet whether you saw or even know of the first “Anchorman” movie.This is not your father’s car advertising. The draw is similar to the “rubber-necking” effect of motorists slowing to a virtual stand still to check out traffic accidents. It’s advertising you might love to hate.

Speaking of fender benders, Ferrell called the Durango “a terrible car” in an interview with Conan O’Brien, a few weeks ago. “They gave me one for free, and I drove it four feet and the thing cracked in half,” he told the late-night host.

Ouch!

Doing some quick PR work, Chrysler explained that Ferrell was merely acting as Ron Burgundy and they weren’t upset.

But quite a few of online comments reacting on YouTube to the segment agreed with Ferrell and blasted Chrysler quality. Not exactly a very good thing. Not at all.

You’ve got to wonder whether Ferrell will be back as a Dodge spokesman for Anchorman 3.

My guess is no.

MAKING TRACKS: Brent Dewar joins NASCAR as COO. Dewar worked at GM from 1978 to 2010, with stints that included VP of Chevy globally and VP of marketing and sales.

MAKING TRACKS II: Gareth Kay becomes co-owner of the new San Francisco office of Minneapolis-based creative consultancy Zeus Jones and will also be founding partner of the West Coast office. Kay was chief strategy officer at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco.  His resume includes stops at Modernista, Lowe and TBWA.

Follow me, Jean Halliday, on LinkedIn and Facebook and on Twitter :@jhal2001

*This first appeared as Jean Halliday’s “AdRant” in CNWs subscriber-only, online auto industry report.

(This first ran as

W+K “Hands” Honda a Hit

Honda hit another one out of the park in Europe with a clever corporate ad from Wieden + Kennedy, London.

The spot, dubbed “Hands,” shows off the company’s range of products under its corporate ad tag “The Power of Dreams.”

It runs nearly 2 minutes. The work is so captivating, it sucks the viewer in and the time flies. That’s no easy task in today’s mile-a-minute culture of media bombardment.

Simplicity is the key here. The only narration is at the start: “Let’s see what curiosity can do.”

If you haven’t seen it…you MUST check it out to see what GREAT auto advertising looks like.

In the 11 weeks since Honda posted it on YouTube, it’s tallied nearly 7.3-million views.

That’s a hit in my book. I predict this spot is going to be as hot as “Cog,” that famous, similarly-long spot Wieden + Kennedy, London, did back in 2003 for Honda’s the Accord in Europe.

Wieden, founded in Portland, is one of the largest independent ad agencies left in this world. The agency has also created lots of memorable work for Chrysler Group.

Kudos to the crew at W+K in London!

MAKING TRACKS: John Felice, who was general manager of Ford Lincoln Sales since fall 2011, moves up the ladder in October to VP-marketing, sales and service in the US. FordJohnFelice

Felice, will  succeed his boss, Ken  Czubay, who is retiring. Felice joined Ford in spring 1984. His stints at Ford include truck product marketing manager at the Ford Division in the US and Exec Director, marketing, sales and service for Ford Asia-Pacific & Africa.

SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT: AutoAdOpolis doesn’t normally stump for causes. But a non-profit is trying to save Ford’s historic Highland Park plant, the birthplace of industrial mass production and the $5-a-day wage that fueled America’s middle class. It’s sad that other parts of the world cherish their iconic places and here in America we simply let them deteriorate – or tear them down.
The Woodward Avenue Action Association is in the midst of a fundraiser to buy property to set up a visitors center for tours of the old Model T plant.
fORDHighlandplantPeople wanting to help should visit
Donations can be just $5. The group is also looking for corporate sponsors. For more info, go to  www.woordwardavenue.org
Automotive Heritage Welcome Center

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Ford Mimics Movie Ads

Auto advertising for seasonal clear-out sales are often boring. Many look the same.

The most common ingredients are running footage, someone talking VERY loudly and on-screen deals. Sometimes the marketers use existing commercials, but shorten them to add in info about the special deals.

The Ford brand thinks it has a better idea for its sales event this summer.

The Big Idea for Ford’s so-called “Summer Spectacular”event stemmed from the annual hot-weather blockbuster season for movies.

Each of the dozen new : 30 spots looks like a movie trailer. The first few seconds of all the spots are the same, showing the name “Ford,” but no cars. In addition, there’s four separate versions aimed at the Hispanic market, starring actor Cristian de la Fuente.

The brand believes the executions will not only break through the clutter, but boost the brand’s image and consideration, David Mondragon, general marketing manager for Ford and Lincoln, told me. Ford has increased favorable opinion on its brand by 20 points since 2008.

Ford’s ad agency, WPP Group’s TeamDetroit in Dearborn, tapped two Hollywood directors known for their prolific work on movie trailers. Kurt Mattila and Kyle Cooper, both of Prologue Films,have worked on movie trailers, including 2008′s “Iron Man” and “The Incredible Hulk,”: respectively.

Here’s one of my favorites– for the C-Max Hybrid- directed by Cooper

The Focus spot directed by Mattila features a love-sick vampire trying to convince his girlfriend not to break up with him. Other movie genres include the Super Duty pickup as a super hero; surfing for the Fiesta and a spy-chase for the Mustang GT.

But when you’re creating so many unique spots, there’s bound to be one or two that just aren’t as compelling.

To me, that’s this one- for the Escape, called “The Heist”

While it does cover the bases for the Escape’s cool features and benefits, it just feels forced.

You can see all the spots here

 FYI, during a Google hangout Ford’s social media maven Scott Monty did with director Mattila, it leaked that Ford will be making a special product announcement at Comic-Con International’s Convention coming up later this week in San Diego.

 In the past, Ford has used TV star and narrator Mike Rowe for sales events. Mondragon told me Rowe “is a great asset for Ford,” having narrated the recently-ended Eco Boost Challenge ads, and still doing Ford service and and truck ads.

Earlier this year, the brand’s regional dealer advertising adopted the same ad creative process used by the national team. Instead of just TeamDetroit developing the creative, multiple WPP shops get Ford’s brief and submit ideas, Mondragon said.

The TV buy includes both national and regional, airing through August. Ford and its regional dealer ad associations are spending as much on media for this as for the national buy. The buy includes 90% of movie theaters in the US during July and August, says. Mondragon, who served CEO of Ford of Canada for more than three years,

To extend buzz and reach, the media plan is integrated with a movie-ticket giveaway on moviefone.com, called the Summer Spectacular Movie Ticket Giveaway plus $3 off movie rentals on Amazon.com.

Ford will soon be announcing four movie nights that will take over theaters to display vehicles, show the ads and offer a movie to hand-raisers. Dealers will also be inviting customers.

The automaker started the Ford Summer Spectacular Giveaway of 2013 models this month. To enter to win one of the 10 vehicles, visitors to fordeventgiveaway.com must view videos touting the product features and benefits. The site has a link to Facebook if visitors want to get their friends involved.

It’s encouraging to see Ford trying something different for a sales event.

Doing something different doesn’t always work, as evidenced by the Limited Engagement Spring Event work this year from Nissan’s Infiniti brand.

Check it out and you’ll see what I mean

At first glance doesn’t it seem to be a clothing commercial? It IS visually interesting, but it takes too long to get to the point. Sorry, TBWA/Chiat/Day- it’s off the mark.

One male viewer on YouTube posted this wise crack :“Guys, the takeaway from this commercial is: Drive an Infiniti and the ladies’ clothes will just fall right off “

Clearly, that wasn’t what Infiniti was going for.

 MAKING TRACKS: Congrats to David Murphy, who is moving to Michigan to become president-USA of WPP’s TeamDetroit in Dearborn on August 1. davidMurphyTeamDetroit

Murphy has worked on car accounts over his career, including Lincoln, Jaguar, Land Rover and Toyota.

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Lexus New Global Ad is “Amazing?”

It is sometimes surprising to see ads that get approved by clients and make it into our dens and onto our digital devices.

Such is the case with the first commercial from a new global brand campaign for Lexus, created by CHI & Partners, London.

Directed by big-name British director Daniel Kleinman, the spot shows a despondent 11-foot,  robot-looking puppet moving through a city in search of…..something.

This search goes on way too long, as viewers ponder what the hell is being sold here.

The creature finally finds a mate. No voiceover is used throughout the entire 1:30 online version of the ad, only the the haunting voice of Kristina Train singing “I’m Wandering.”

It is not until the final two seconds of the commercial that we actually see a Lexus with the words “Amazing in Motion” and the smaller “amazinginmotion.com web site. If you’re sharp enough to notice, the same “Amazing in Motion” words accompanied by the smaller “Created by Lexus” “appear on screen for the first two seconds of the longer video on You Tube.

Here’s the first spot, called “Steps,” that is playing all around the world

Excuse me, folks, but what does this have to do with Lexus? I honestly do not get the branding part of this first spot. What does it really tell us about Lexus?

How about nothing! Seems like a big waste of a lot of money!

You can bet Lexus paid big bucks for: Kleinman to direct; licensing Train’s music; and  creating these giant puppets.

Kleinman is no slouch. He’s won top awards for his ad work at Cannes, directed more than 100 music videos for big-name stars, and created the title sequences for the James Bond’ movie series from 1995 to 2006, returning in 2012 for “Skyfall.” He is co-founder of production company Rattling Stick.

But the ad looks more like a music video or movie promo than an ad for Lexus. Maybe that’s the point, but someone sold Lexus a bill of goods with this strategy.

Check out the Amazing in Motion web site, which thus far is a never-ending patting on the backs of the people who created these 11-foot puppets. And you can see a lot of the same info in behind-the-scenes videos on You Tube. Oh gee, they used a cool 3-D printer! Yeah, that’s a cool piece of technology, but SO WHAT?

Incredibly, I couldn’t find any Lexus vehicles on the site. Maybe that comes later. Along with some “Amazing” ads ……..hopefully.

When Lexus debuted in the US in 1989, it had some of the best advertising in the luxury-car category. Team One and the Lexus brain trust put together an amazing brand strategy with executions that are still remembered today.

How did this brand veer so far off course?

Once the brand started to enter other markets around the world, someone at Lexus decided the brand needed a uniform, global brand blitz. And aren’t faceless puppets who don’t say anything perfect for every market?

This idea of latching onto the word “Amazing” goes back to at least June 2011. That’s when Lexus introduced a video called “Engineering Amazing” to tout its hybrid technology.

Someone at the mother ship sure liked the word “Amazing,” because it was back a year later in a Lexus Europe video called “Creating Amazing,” explaining how the automaker was doing that.

Sorry, Lexus, but “Amazing in Motion” doesn’t have the same gravitas as “The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection,” the line created by Team One for the brand’s US launch.

Now THAT was powerful.

We can only keep our collective fingers crossed and hope that upcoming executions in the “Amazing” blitz are much more relevant to brand Lexus.

Meanwhile, luxury car brand Audi is getting a ton of buzz from an online-only video, timed beautifully to coincide with the new “Star Trek Into Darkness” movie. The video, created by Audi of America’s PR shop, PMK BNC, is dubbed “The Challenge,” pitting Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek’s original Spock, against the newest Spock movie actor, Zachary Quinto.

Quinto drives the Audi S7, while Nimoy is in a Mercedes. The 2.5-minute video spot highlights the Mercedes’ shortcomings compared to the Audi. YouTube viewers are loving the fact that Nimoy sings “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins” while driving to his rendezvous with Quinto. (Nimoy recorded that campy tune for one of his albums back in the 60s).

Here it is if you haven’t seen it

The video seems to have widespread appeal: to Trekkies, Audi aficionados, Hobbit lovers and Quinto fans.

This is a clever and funny way to show old luxury vs. new luxury, a main brand position for Audi.

Audi tallied 5 million-plus views on YouTube in the first week. That’s huge, folks!

On the flip side, Lexus got just under 3,000 views in the US for its first “Amazing” video in its first 12 days.  But Kristina Train, the singer in the Lexus video, fared much better with the same video, reaching nearly 12,000 views on You Tube in just 4 days.

That pretty much says it all.

MAKING TRACKS: Brad Fogel joined Innocean Worldwide Americas this month as COO in Huntington Beach, California, the ad agency for Hyundai Motor America. BradFogelCOOinnoceanFogel had been president of Grey in San Francisco since May 2010, also overseeing the Los Angeles and Atlanta offices. Fogel played a role in Grey’s win of BMW of North America’s $80-million western regional account. He had been at Grey since 2007 and had stints at Publicis & Hal Riney, Hill, Holiday, Saatchi & Saatchi, Y&R and FCB. He also has experience on the client side, having served as CMO of 24 Hour Fitness for almost 3 years until July 2007.

He succeeds Jim Sanfilippo, who left last June after four years and is now a independent consultant.

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Also on Twitter @jhal2001

* A version of this first appeared as my monthly Ad Rap column in CNW Research’s online, subscriber-only, industry newsletter.

 

Mazda’s Game Changer?

Mazda North American Operations has had a dicey time elbowing for share of voice against much bigger players in the car business. Russell Wager, who joined Mazda last fall as VP of US marketing, admits there were months, like November and January, when the company didn’t advertise on US television.

RussellWagerMazda“It’s okay for us to be the little guy,” Wager said.

But like Davis vs. Goliath, Mazda has a new attitude – and a new strategy – to boost its presence not only on TV, but also in search and digital, as well as high-profile places like Times Square and a promotional tie-in with an upcoming movie.

Wager compared Mazda to MLB’s Oakland A’s, which ranked last out of 30 teams for payroll costs, but still finished 4th overall. He declined to reveal specifics of Mazda’s ad budget.

Mazda spends about $280 million a year on ads and media, well below the major car brands.

Mazda is kicking off its biggest ad campaign in 13 years in May. Themed “Game Changers,” ads will highlight pioneers of the past who figured out a way to excel in their areas of expertise. You know, like Mazda.

The first work features Olympian Dick Fosbury, who revolutionized high jumping with his new “back-first” technique that won him a Gold Medal in 1968.

MazdaFosburyPrintAd

“We are going to look at game changers- people who used courage to defy conventional wisdom,” said Harvey Marco, chief creative officer of Garage Team Mazda, the brand’s ad agency since 2010. He said other big names featured in the ads will be Mary Quaint, the mini skirt inventor, and Laird Hamilton, the big-wave surfer who dreamed up tow-in surfing, which involves a jet ski pulling the skier into monstrous curls.

There will be plenty of people who never heard of  these folks. But that’s okay since the Big Idea should overcome that.

Although the campaign breaks for the launch of the 2014 Mazda6 sedan, the new umbrella theme will spread to all models, all branding, in all messaging, including events, regional dealer advertising and sales offers.

That approach differs from how Mazda did things in the past and the uniform ad platform “will make our (ad) fund go further,” says Wager. Mazda is boosting its digital and search spending by 40% this year from 2012. Wager says the brand will reduce its reliance on TV. Although broadcast will account for the biggest chunk of the overall ad spend, at 65%, Mazda will be on television all year. Although digital will comprise 25% of all spending, the undisclosed total is 40% more than 2012 (and includes search). Print and out-of-home ads account for the remaining 10% of the budget.

Look for Mazda to takeover Yahoo’s home page with jumper Fosbury, carrying the headline “This is how he changed the game. This is how we changed the game.” (with the new Mazda6).

And from now on, Mazda ads will show only red vehicles “so they  pop off the page,” Marco said.

Mazda’s new consumer research, done over the past 5 months, and new analytics approach, will boost retail sales and reach, Wager said.

Mazda partnered with the upcoming space thriller “Star Trek Into Darkness” as part of the 6′s launch. Check out this  :30 commercial Mazda did to help promote the film

It makes sense for Mazda to team up with this sci fi flick to tout its SKYACTIV Technology that improves driving, safety and fuel economy.  Mazda has an app related to the movie that assigns 5 missions, including a trip to a Mazda dealership to take and upload a photo. Dealers will also get movie tickets to share with  service customers.

Mazda takes the “Game Changer” theme to print and out-of-home ads, like this interactive board carrying the headline “When you  Change Everything, You Change Everything.”

Mazda6adChange

I may be nitpicking, but this ad (shown) and several like it remind me an awful lot of the work BBDO Detroit did back in 1992 for the launch of the new Dodge Intrepid. “We’re Changing Everything,” was the ad theme for that campaign. Okay, that was back in 1992, so maybe I am nitpicking.

Anything that can get little Mazda more exposure is a good thing.

MAKING TRACKS: Life IS stranger than  fiction. Steve Majoros joins Cadillac as global marketing director. Majoros was a managing director at IPG’s Campbell-Ewald ad agency. C-E had been Chevrolet’s ad agency for more than 90 years and is said to be in the pitch for Cadillac’s business. What does that mean for Fallon, Caddy’s current ad shop? Bad news, probably.

MAKING TRACKS II : Word is Hyundai creative ad agency ,affiliate Innocean Worldwide Americas in Huntington Beach is close to hiring a new COO after a year-long search. Stay tuned, folks.

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and on Twitter @jhal2001

GM Moves Chevy to McCann, Starts Caddy Review

Well, it was probably the worst kept secret around.

And General Motors finally confirmed it, announcing late in the day today (March 14) it was consolidating Chevrolet’s global account at IPG’s McCann Worldwide. Strangely, GM distributed the statement, which was attributed to McCann.

Whatever.

The bottom line is this: Omnicom’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners is out.

Goodby won the Chevy account in 2010 without a review shortly after the arrival of Joel Ewanick as CMO. Ewanick had worked with Goodby during his years heading Porsche marketing and also for a while at Hyundai.

Shortly before Ewanick was forced out last year, GM pushed Goodby into that silly 50-50 venture with McCann to handle Chevy, called Commonwealth. I predicted it was a bad idea to try to get 2 holding companies to work together.

http://autoadopolis.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/is-chevys-global-creative-solution-a-good-idea/

GM should have known better since it had tried it before on the media side… and it flopped.

Most AutoAdOpolis readers know I have not been a big fan of most of Goodby’s work. I don’t put all the blame on the agency because it has done some great work for other clients.

The smoke signals for Goodby’s demise really started billowing late last year when GM’s Alan Batey, interim CMO, (pictured below) moved oversight of the crucial Chevy Silverado launch to Publicis’ Leo Burnett.

aLANBatey

Burnett  also has GMC and Buick and one could certainly argue that work for those two brands hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire.

So one has to wonder why Batey chose to only fiddle with the agencies for only 2 of 4 GM US vehicle brands, essentially giving Burnett a free pass.

But even more curious is Batey’s timing.

After all, Tim Mahoney will start April 1 as GM’s newly-hired global CMO for Chevrolet. Mahoney, on vacation this month after leaving VW of America, will also be global GM marketing operations leader, indicating he’ll also oversee other car brands. He’ll report to Batey.

GM has been mum on whether Batey, also VP of sales and service in the US, will remain interim global CMO. So Mahoney could well be Batey’s successor. So, if Batey wanted to make some big moves and undo most of what Ewanick did, he knew he had to hurry.

But why not wait until Mahoney arrives?

Batey’s marketing power plays would have had to have been okayed from the top, since Batey reports to GM Chairman-CEO Dan Akerson.

This entire mess doesn’t portray GM in a very positive light.

What the hell are you guys thinking?

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On Twitter @jhal2001

Are Chevy Ads Finding New Roads?

Chevrolet recently introduced its new “Find New Roads” advertising tag with a splashy :90 TV commercial that broke during the Grammy Awards. The montage of cars, each with different music, is visually interesting. In case you missed it, here’s the spot from Chevy’s ad agency Commonwealth, a 50-50 joint venture of IPG’s McCann Erickson Worldwide and Omnicom’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners

It’s good to see that General Motors’ biggest brand included the sexy Corvette in the commercial. But why are there no crossovers or pickups? Those segments are certainly a big part of the brand’s bread and butter these days. The scenes in the spot are pretty nifty. The robo dog is cool and who doesn’t like deer? The  first part of the Sonic section looks very much like a spot for retailer Target, another Grammy broadcast sponsor.

But the whole thing somehow doesn’t gel as one; doesn’t come together. Who is finding new roads? Where are the new roads?

What probably bothers me most is the boastful line “with the best lineup of vehicles ever….”

Memo to Chevy: Who said you have the best lineup ever? It’s better to use third-party ratings than pound on your chest with that blanket statement. Why? Because there’s plenty of skeptics out there and people are more likely to trust third party sources. Hopefully Chevy will have some testimonial ads touting its “best lineup” ever.

And say goodbye to Tim Allen as the voice of Chevy advertising. He was thrown out with the “Chevy Runs Deep” ad tag that lived for a little over two years, created by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco. That’s OK, you can still hear the actor narrating ads for Campbell’s Soup. You’re now hearing John Cusack doing Chevrolet ad voice overs.

The second spot out there with the “Find New Roads” ad tag is for the 2013 Chevy Traverse.

Check out how the ad shows seating for 8, whether they are real or imaginary

Sorry, Chevy and Commonwealth, but this ad is awful close to Kia’s 2010 Super Bowl commercial for the Sorento, showing the critters from kids’  popular cable TV show Yo Gabba Gabba come to life

It certainly looks like Chevrolet and Commonwealth stole the idea from Kia and their ad agency DavidandGoliath. These sort of coincidences happen from time to time in this business. There was one season in the ’90s when 2 or 3 different car brands featured grocery store parking lots and shopping carts in their commercials.

The longer you’ve been in this business, the more examples of these coincidences you see. Here’s another one, this time it’s Kia, which in recent weeks broke a national spot for the 2014 Sorento. Check out how Kia touted the crossover’s power-folding mirrors and programmable power lift gate in a tight parking space

Of course lots of people would never jam their $23,000-to$33,000 new vehicle into such a tight spot. This Big Idea isn’t so fresh. Check out this commercial from WPP’s JWT (now TeamDetroit) for the 2000-model Ford Focus

And so it goes. If you’ve got any to add, please leave a comment and thanks for taking the time to read AutoAdOpolis.

MAKING TRACKS: General Motors has shifted Craig Bierley from ad director for Buick GMC to the same post at Cadillac. Craig, a Michigan native, has been with GM for 22-plus years, starting there as a financial analyst. He succeeds Molly Peck, who was moved last fall from the Caddy post to USA ad director of Chevrolet. The merry-go-round continues over there.

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and on Twitter @jhal2001

Auto Brands Tease the Big Game

It’s more than a week before the Super Bowl and the carmakers advertising in the Super Bowl are rolling out their teasers and actual commercials. Smartly, the brands are upping their exposure  in social media.

Volkswagen of America just released this 1:30 gem teaser it calls “Get Happy,” starring Jamaican regaee legend Jimmy Cliff

 

Love the crying “cat lady” and the whole spot just makes you smile. VW is very smart to push its own web site, vw.com, where it is offering downloads of this exclusive track and directing viewers to #GetHappy. Kudos to Deutsch Los Angeles.

Of course the teaser isn’t necessarily what VW will air in the game on Sunday, Feb. 3. VW fooled us all last year with a whacky teaser of dogs barking the “Star Wars” theme, then in the game ran a Beetle spot of a dog getting in shape so it could chase the car. I do know VW will air a brand spot in the Big Game.

Here it is

I think I prefer the teaser.

“You can be a little bit crazier with the teasers,” CMO and chief product officer Tim Mahoney, told me. And since he’s arrived at VW in spring 2011 he said he and his team has learned that “you can stretch the conversation” about your brand when you release your Super Bowl teaser earlier rather than later. In 2011, VW got several million views for “The Force” Super Bowl spot on YouTube less than a week before the Big Game.

The VW brand has advertised in the Super Bowl since 2010, when it returned after a 9-year hiatus.

Mercedes-Benz is getting a lot of attention for its pre-Super Bowl video for the all-new CLA starring Kate Upton. Uploaded on YouTube on Jan. 21,  the 1:30  attracted an impressive 3 million views by the middle of the day Jan. 24. The commercial, from Merkley + Partners in New York City, is a spoof of a scene from the 1967 prison drama “Cool Hand Luke,” in which a sexy young thing teases the chain-gang guys with a suggestive car wash. Here’s Mercedes’ take

This seems unusual for Mercedes-Benz, but hey, sex sells, right. R&B star Usher will also be in the final ad airing in the fourth quarter.

Mercedes also went big for an earlier teaser too, buying the rights to the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil,” in this video posted just a few days ago on Jan. 19

Meantime, two car brands- Audi and Lincoln- are letting consumers get involved in decisions for their Big Game commercials.

Starting Jan. 25 at midnight for 24 hours, Audi will have people pick one of 3 endings for a :60 Super Bowl commercial. The story line for the 2013 Audi S6 spot is a teen boy at his prom. Somehow that doesn’t sounds very prom-ising.

This still photo from the spot is about all that’s out there now from Audi

AudiTeaser13SuperBowlDoesn’t give us  much to go on, eh? Should make for a wild and crazy week for Audi’s ad agency, Venables Bell & Partners in San Francisco as they edit the most popular ending into the commercial.

Here’s Audi’s final cut 

Ford Motor Co.’s lux Lincoln brand asked Tweeters in December to help it write the Big Game spot for the new MKZ sedan. Lincoln teamed with Jimmy Fallon in videos, in social media, on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/LincolnMotorCo and and via the site steerthescript.com.

On Saturday, Jan. 19 Lincoln released a 1:15 video of sneak peeks of the spot

Hmmm- tortoises, a motorcycle gang, llamas and a UFO? That’s certainly an interesting combo, eh? But only a disappointing 1,506 views on YouTube by this afternoon, Jan. 24.

Lest we forget, Lincoln said back in early December it had signed a deal with with NFL rushing leader and three-time Super Bowl champ Emmitt Smith as a “brand ambassador” for the MKZ launch. So I fully expect to see him in the final cut on Game Day. HudsonRouge in Manhattan is Lincoln’s ad agency.

Lincoln is NOT really a Super Bowl freshman. Lincoln was an advertiser in the Big Game in the mid-90s. And it had an ad buy for the 2005 Super Bowl for the Mark LT pickup truck. But Lincoln pulled out in the eleventh hour after advocacy groups complained it made light of the Catholic Church’s sex scandals. The spot showed a clergyman tempted by the keys to the 2006 pickup left on the collection plate. Instead, Ford used the ad slot during the game for an existing Mustang convertible spot.

The Toyota brand said weeks ago TV actress Kaley Cuoco would star in its Super Bowl spot. Here she is this :36 teaser, dubbed “I Wish,” arrived Jan. 23 on YouTube with the “Big Bang Theory” star and the RAV4

I don’t think this is going to get much attention for Toyota unless the actual :60 commercial airing in the first quarter from Saatchi & Saatchi in Los Angeles really dials things up. The look of this is too similar to the one the ad agency did for the recent launch of the new Toyota Avalon

You just get the idea they wanted to use this cool camera technique. Toyota also turned to social media to woo people for a chance to be in the commercial on game day. And Toyota is a sponsor of the post-game show.

Toyota finally released the in-game commercial

Hyundai still hasn’t officially released its ads or teasers, although I and other members of the media have seen the rough cuts . (You can check out my earlier blog about Hyundai’s Super Bowl ad plans here

http://autoadopolis.wordpress.com/2013/01/23/hyundais-super-bowl-ads-better-than-2012/

This is my favorite among Hyundai’s two in-game spots, called “Stuck” for the Sonata Turbo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SohqIBOb03k

Here’s the other in-game spot, just released today, called “Team”

Chrysler Group is again keeping a lid on specifics about its ad plans for Super Bowl. But you can pretty much count on something over the top.

Kia, readying its fourth year as a Super Bowl advertiser, seems late to the teaser party. But word is out it bought a :30 slot in the third quarter for the Forte and a minute-long slot in the fourth for the Sorento. DavidandGoliath, Los Angeles, handles. Here’s the teaser, which was released AFTER I originally posted

Car brands that aren’t returning this year are Chevrolet, Honda and Acura.

It’s a shame they’ll miss the big hoopla.

MAKING TRACKS: Ian Marlowe quietly shifted gears on auto accounts last year from group account director on Audi at Venables Bell & Partners in San Francisco to global brand director at TBW on Infiniti in all  markets. Did former Audi of America Prez Johan de Nysschen, now president of Infiniti globally, cherry pick Marlowe?

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On Twitter @jhal2001