Category Archives: Auto Advertising

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

 

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?

Follow me, Jean Halliday, on Forbes.com, LinkedIn, Facebook

On Twitter @jhal2001

Hyundai’s Super Bowl Ads Better Than 2012

Hyundai Motor America took the wraps off its commercials for this year’s Super Bowl, the automaker’s sixth straight year as an advertiser in the Big Game.

The spots, at the time of writing, were still in rough cut and not available to post. (will add as soon as possible). But they should arrive today on You Tube, Facebook and other social mediums. Hyundai’s VP-marketing Steve Shannon told me yesterday the automaker is blasting the new ads out about 5 days earlier than last year ahead of Game Day in hopes of getting a bigger lift in online traffic and buzz.

SteveShannonIn the good old days before high-speed internet access reached the masses, Super Bowl viewers would have to wait until game day to first eye ball the commercials.

Shannon told me the spots have been pre-tested via focus groups with people screened for liking the Super Bowl and its ads.

I guess Hyundai and its ad agency Innocean USA in Huntington Beach, passed the test because the commercials are coming this week, along with an extra surprise Friday about a custom-written song in one of the spots from a psychedelic alternative rock band. Shannon said that on Jan. 25  Hyundai will announce the name of the band, which doesn’t do a lot of commercial work. The new song for Hyundai will be a bonus track on the band’s upcoming new album. And Hyundai will offer 100,000 free downloads of the song via iTunes on hyundai.com the same day the new album debuts.

That ought to stir some more buzz- at least with the folks who know and like this band.

The band members have several cameos in Hyundai’s only :60 spot. It’s for the new 7-passenger Sante Fe and airs in the slot before the kick-off. The name of the commercial, “Epic Play Date,” says it all. A montage, with just a splash of animation, shows a family moving from a pancake breakfast at home to a riotous day of fun. A saber-tooth tiger comes to life in a wild life museum,  ostriches chase the family at a petting zoo and there’s a game of outdoor bowling, with one of the sons inside a giant, blow-up bowling ball.

Actor Jeff Bridges does voice over for all the spots, which carry the two-year-old tag “New Thinking. New Possibilities.”

Hyundai has a pair of new :30s breaking IN the game.

The one in the first quarter, dubbed “Team,”is also for the launch of longer-wheel-based Sante Fe. A bullied young boy rounds up his dream team of friends to seek revenge in a football game. The song “Bang Your Head,” from Quiet Riot, plays through the spot as the boy’s Mom picks up his posse in the crossover suv. There’s no question at the end who will win the football game. The dream team of 6 kids in the Sante Fe are over-the-top. Among them: red-headed twins pumping serious iron and a bear wrestler. This spot has a nice football link, but not a real big finish.

In the second quarter, Hyundai has a another :30, called “Stuck” for the Sonata Turbo sedan. Because of the car’s zippy engine, the couple inside can easily pass a variety of vehicles they find offensive, including a hefty guy on a motor bike showing part of his derriere and animal-print panties, a tanker truck oozing some suspicious-looking green goop and big dogs slobbering out of an RV onto the Sonata’s windshield. The kicker at the end is delivered by actor Jeff  Bridges: “Trust us. It’s better to be in front.”

Hyundai’s fourth commercial is for the zippy Genesis R-Spec, a :30 that will also air in the pre-game broadcast. Named “Excited,” it shows the 8-speed car screaming around a race track as sportscaster Gus Johnson is heard in the background doing the play-by-play. On screen notices tell us how this 429-HP car bests a BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche in horsepower and/or 0-60.

Those stats are likely to shock fans of those German brands, but you can’t blame Hyundai for wanting to get the word out to 100-plus-million viewers. Still, this is not the place for bragging. Not to worry. This car-on-track spot isn’t interesting enough to cause a ruckus.

Hyundai’s fifth commercial isn’t new, it broke last fall as part of the launch of the smaller, 5-passenger Sante Fe. This this :30 spot, called “Drive In,” during the pre-game broadcast, was under the umbrella theme “Don’t Tell” (Mom or Dad) because each parent is doing exciting things with the kids without the other spouse. In case you haven’t seen it

I like the “Don’t Tell” series and gave it a nod in my Year In Review post.

“Stuck” for the Sonata Turbo should get plenty of laughs, and along with “Epic Play Date” for the Sante Fe are the best in my book from Hyundai’s game-day offerings this year. I predict the two will rank higher than Hyundai’s ads in last year’s Super Bowl, when the “Cheetah” spot for the Veloster Turbo ranked 23 by AdMeter. That was not the lowest-ranked car ad in the 2012 game, mind you. That “honor,” at Number 54, went to Team One USA and the Lexus GS ad it created.

We’ll just gave have to wait to see how all these spots perform after all Super Bowl viewers see them.

MAKING TRACKS: Sad to say Andy Prakken left Team Detroit, where he had been exec VP-chief media officer for 8 years, overseeing media planning and buying, brand content development and analytics operations for Ford in the US and the rest of the world. Andy worked on the Ford account since at least 1991, when he was a media director at J. Walter Thompson, one of Team Detroit’s predecessors.

Hmm, Andy’s departure coincides with the Team Detroit’s hiring of Betsy Lazar to his old job. My take is Andy either did not want to take a back seat to Lazar, who left General Motors after 20 years in 2009 to become VP-global media of Kellogg Co., or he got in sideways with his new boss at Team Detroit, Mark LaNeve, another GM grad who worked closely with Betsy. Not to worry. Someone will quickly swoop up Prakken.

Follow me, Jean Halliday,  on Forbes.com, LinkedIn, Facebook

And on Twitter @jhal2001

2012 Car Ad Review

As the curtain opens this week on 2013, it’s time for AutoAdOpolis’ annual year in review. Which carmakers and ad agencies executed outstanding efforts, which had some decent doubles and triples and which were just plain so-so?

Let’s start with the good news.

Chrysler Group scored big with its launch work for the return of the new, modern Dodge Dart. Ad agency Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, really hit it over the fence with this commercial that also debuted the tag line “New Rules”

Not only is this spot clever and witty, the art direction really catches your eye. Plus, this ad actually gives viewers a real sense of the brand.

Chrysler also gets high marks for the commercial for Fiat USA, dubbed “Immigrants” from The Richards Group. The :60 spot, which broke in the summer, hilariously depicts the next-gen 500 arriving to our shores- the hard way.

Like the Dodge spot, this is fun to watch and should put a smile on your face. It’s a perfect way to convey the car’s Italian heritage, which wasn’t the case in 2011 when Chrysler partnered with Jennifer Lopez for Fiat ads- a total disconnect that looked more like a music video for her new song than a spot for the car.

Both the Dart and 500 spots spotlight music from popular artists, a tactic preferred by Chrysler Group CMO Olivier Francois to grab viewers’ attention. The song in the Dodge ad is “No Church in the Wild” by J-Z and Kanye. The Fiat commercial pushed the new “Sexy People” single from Pitbull featuring Arianna. In neither case do the songs overpower the commercials.

Speaking of smiling, how about Volkswagen of America’s brand blitz that bowed with the :30 spot called “Smiles,” showing people of all ages laughing. There are no cars in this brilliant commercial from Deutsch in Los Angeles. It really captures the essence of the brand with the line “it’s not the miles, you how you live them.” The spot directs viewers to the whyvw.com sites, where they can post stories about their VWs or learn more about the cars from other owners and from VW.

Quite a brave move for a car marketer to not show a car in an ad, so kudos to VW’s CMO and chief product officer Tim Mahoney and his right-hand man Kevin Mayer, VP-marketing.

One of the most memorable spots that didn’t show a car was Jeep’s award-winning 1994 commercial, dubbed “Snow Covered” from the now-defunct Bozell in Southfield, Michigan.

Audi of America, which has been one of the industry’s best and most consistent advertisers in terms of creative, hits it out of the park again early in 2012 with a spot called “Ahab” for its all-wheel-drive Quattro system. The commercial spoofs Herman Melville’s epic sea captain character in search of an elusive whale with a northern tow truck operator and his frustration with never “hooking” an Audi with Quattro stuck in the snow. A very smart and entertaining execution from Venables Bell & Partners in San Francisco.

While we’re on Audi, the brand’s Super Bowl “Vampire” commercial for its LED headlights did the best among all the top 10 spots in the 2012 Big Game, ranking 7th for Most Liked, according to Nielsen consumer research the best showing for any carmaker. The commercial was certainly over the top and tapped into the nation’s current craze for vampires.

Audi also ranked highly in my 2011 review. 

It was good to see American Honda Motor Co. raising the creative bar for both its brands in the Super Bowl. The Honda CR-V commercial starred Matthew Broderick spoofing his role in the flick “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

The commercial was one of the best from RPA in Santa Monica for Honda in a long time and blew away the earlier launch work for the CR-V. The spot ranked 10th Most Liked among all Super Bowl ads by Nielsen research,.

The automaker’s first-ever Super Bowl commercial for Acura was also a hit. In the Big Game, a media outlet where advertisers need to go big or be invisible, Acura met the challenge with a funny spot for the NSX starring funny men and car nuts Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno. USA Today’s AdMeter, based on consumer voting for their favorite Super Bowl ad on Facebook in 2012, ranked Acura’s spot number 13 and Honda’s 16.

Unfortunately, Honda and Acura’s over-the-top Super Bowl commercials weren’t enough to keep their ad agencies, RPA and sibling rp&, both in Santa Monica, out of the hot seat. Both accounts recently went into review.

Toyota Motor USA’s Lexus brand also made some inroads into improving creative with the launch of the new 2013 ES and first ES Hybrid. One of the launch commercials, dubbed “Split World” grabbed your attention with special effects and a script that made sense. Bravo to Brian Smith, VP-marketing at Lexus and kudos to Team One

Sister brand Toyota still isn’t there yet. But Toyota’s “Real Owners. Real Stories” TV commercial for the Camry, with online video assets and accompanying web site is not only well done, but is getting tons of input. Toyota figured out how to tweak a year-old site for the Camry launch and took it up a few notches

When it comes to Ford Motor Co., its Ford brand has had some of the most consistent work in the category all year. The advertising from TeamDetroit in Dearborn is visually interesting, makes relevant points and is strategic without shoving people’s faces into it.

Take this launch commercial for the 2013 Fusion. Great way to bring to life the Big Idea of standing out from rivals, which disappear.

Let’s look at Hyundai Motor America. After a pretty decent run with some of the best ads in the industry, seems too many of Hyundai’s ads are getting a bit formulaic. The brand’s Super Bowl commercials, from Innocean Worldwide Americas in Huntington Beach, California, were nothing to write home about.

There are some signs of improvement with the September launch work for the 2013 Sante Fe, themed “Don’t Tell” mom or dad

Shows there are still signs of creative life at the ad agency and at Hyundai.

I’d like to recognize Cadillac as one of the most improved auto advertisers. After a less-than-stellar appearance in the 2012 Super Bowl, General Motors’ lux brand blew out of the gates with impressive summer launch work for the new ATS compact sedan. The work, from Fallon, Minneapolis, was themed “Cadillac ATS vs. The World,” showing how the car performs on some of the ing on and some of the planet’s wildest and most challenging roads. Cadillac smartly posted lots of behind-the-scenes videos on YouTube, as well as links on Facebook and elsewhere.

Keep it up! We’d like to see all of Cadillac’s sibling brands take it up a notch also. Although there were some break-out ads for Chevrolet last year, there simply haven’t been enough of them.

Note to GM and its ad chiefs: Please take some risks!

Looking forward to seeing more break-through work from all auto advertisers in this New Year.

MAKING TRACKS: Steve Rosenblum recently started as general manager of Publicis Kaplan Thaler in Manhattan, which handles the account for the Tri State Honda Dealers Association. Rosenblum had been consulting since leaving General Motors in late 2011 after 15 years in various ad and marketing positions.

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and on Twitter @jhal2001

Who Should Be GM’s Next CMO?

AutoAdOpolis is wondering who General Motors will tap as its new CMO after the automaker unceremoniously forced Joel Ewanick to resign as VP-global CMO.

It will take a while for GM to get to it, which will give this red hot story a chance to cool down and get the media’s attention looking elsewhere. But GM SHOULD find a successor by the end of the year. It needs a strong-willed CMO to pull things together, streamline the ad approval process and improve advertising- fingers crossed on that one.

For now, GM named a sales and ops insider, Alan Batey, as interim chief.

The Brit, who joined GM in 1979 as a mechanical engineering apprentice, had held several key management posts overseas. Batey was only just moved in May to the newly-created post of GM VP for US Sales and Service from the same post at Chevrolet in the US. Nothing in his bio offers any hints at his marketing expertise. But not to worry, since the buzz is that GM will find a new CMO.

 Note to GM and its CEO Dan Akerson: Please don’t pick a sales guy or gal for your new CMO. We’ve been down that road with GM before- and let’s just say it didn’t exactly work out. Also-engineers and finance experts need not apply. GM needs another change, which translates to an outsider.

But what if GM opts to hire back one of its “grads,” now outsiders again? There are several interesting possibilities.

When I first heard about Joel’s ouster, the first name I thought of as a successor was Mark LaNeve, who left GM in 2009 shortly after the automaker emerged from bankruptcy and not long after he was moved to VP-sales from a four-year stint as VP-sales, service and marketing in North America.  But just as GM’s CMO fiasco was exploding, LaNeve was preparing to join Ford Motor’s ad agency, Team Detroit in Dearborn, as COO. Timing is everything, eh?

One of my sources, a former GM ad agency exec, suggested W.W. Brent Dewar, another GM alum. Dewar retired from post-Chapter 11 GM in early 2010 as ChevroletVP-general manager and global co-ordinator. Dewar, a 31-year vet of GM, was one of those execs either loved or not loved by insiders. According to Dewar’s Facebook postings, he certainly seems to be enjoying his times and travels with his family.

What about GM grad Mark-Hans Richer, who left in 2007 to join Harley-Davidson as senior VP-CMO? Richer has the right experience, having worked at DDB Needham Worldwide in Chicago before joining GM in 1998 as ad manager of  Chevy trucks. He has international experience too; he was director for Latin America on the McDonald’s account at DDB.

Richer is willing to take risks, having helped orchestrate a watershed media stunt as Pontiac’s marketing director to give away new G6 cars to the entire audience of Oprah Winfrey’s in September 2004.

His launch of Pontiac’s sexy, Solstice roadster should be a text-book case study. Under Richer’s baton, Pontiac won a slew ad of awards, including two Cannes Gold Lions, Gold Effies and a Super Reggie.

But I don’t think the odds are very good for a Richer return — even if GM would make make him an offer. He’s back in his home town of Milwaukee working on an iconic brand. I really think he’s having too much fun at Harley. Richer spent a week in China earlier this month to ride the Tibetan Plateau on a Harley to help kick off the brand’s 110th anniversary.

Which candidates should GM consider? Please take this quick poll

 

Thanks for your input!

MAKING TRACKS: Congrats to Dan Riley, promoted to VP at Time Inc. from group ad director in Detroit since November 2008. Dan joined Time in 2001 as ad director of People.

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On Twitter: @jhal2001

AUTOMAKERS UNVEIL SUPER BOWL ADS

 

The countdown clock is ticking until the kick-off of Super Bowl XLVI and more auto advertisers are revealing their Game Day commercials. Noticeably absent in the pre-game hype- AGAIN this year- is Chrysler Group. Last year, Chrysler was mum until its 2-minute “Imported From Detroit” spot for the Chrysler 200 aired during the game. Sometimes surprises are good. This year, Chrysler will have a :90 commercial that we’ll all just have to wait to see.

American Honda Motor unleashed a long version of its Super Bowl commercial, starring actor Matthew Broderick in a modern-day version of his movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

This 2:25 video shows Broderick calling in sick and escaping in his all-new, fourth-generation 2012 Honda CR-V to have some fun.

This is a fun spot that’s bound to break through the clutter during the Big Game this Sunday. Honda’s longtime agency, RPA in Santa Monica, tapped big-time director Todd Phillips (The Hangover, Old School) for this work.

The commercial is one of the best RPA has done for Honda in a long time and is far and away superior to the first launch work for the new CR-V that broke at the start of the year, including this one from RPA, called “Proposal”

Honda’s CR-V Super Bowl commercial is also tied into the Leaplist. Honda.com site, where there’s a CR-V Leap Year Contest to win a new CR-V and other prizes. Honda has smartly tied in with social media, encouraging its Facebook fans to find and comment on the dozens of “Easter eggs” in the spot reminiscent of the original Bueller flick. That link is http://www.facebook.com/hondacrv

And here comes the Toyota brand, which is advertising in the Super Bowl for the first time in three years.

Toyota is pushing the seventh-generation 2012 Camry with this entertaining commercial called “Reinvented” from Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles

Although this version is a minute long, this spot will be sliced to a :30 commercial for the Super Bowl and one of two :30s the brand will have in the game. Toyota says this commercial is scheduled to air in the third quarter and will be backed by a social media play kicking off after the spot airs. Viewers will be encouraged to go to Twitter and tweet with the #Reinvented hashtag about what they’d like to see reinvented. Toyota will respond to select tweets in real time with a creative depiction of that idea.
Toyota doesn’t have a history of exciting advertising, so this one is a breath of fresh air.

Not so for Kia, which has only released a sexy teaser for its Super Bowl commercial, starring Victoria Secret model Adriana Lima for the new Optima

We’ll see if the old adage “Sex Sells” works for Kia in this case. Don’t bet on it. We much prefer Kia’s “Epic” entry in last year’s Super Bowl for the Optima, also from DavidandGoliath in Los Angeles.

Kia’s affiliate, Hyundai is back for its fifth straight year as a Big Game advertiser. Hyundai said it will have five spots on game day: two during the pre-game, one in pre-kick slot and two in the game. Innocean Worldwide Americas in Huntington Beach, California, is the brand’s creative agency of record.

Hyundai is using the very-recognizable and uplifting theme from the movie “Rocky” for this minute-long spot, called “All For One,” about team work at its Montgomery, Alabama plant

Then there’s this one, called “Think Fast,” for the 2013 Genesis Coupe, which comes with a 348-horsepower, V-6 engine

How about this one for the 201-horsepower Veloster Turbo?

Sorry, but a guy getting mauled by a cheetah isn’t that funny.

Hyundai is also patting itself on the back for its big win for the 2012 Elantra as Car of the Year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this month with this commercial, called “Victory Lap”

Look for that one to air sometime before the game starts.

Lastly is Cadillac, which is pre-launching its new ATS with this snoozer called “Green Hell” from Fallon

There are certainly a lot of car ads made at Germany’s Nürburgring, so this commercial won’t break through the clutter. If you’re going to advertiser in the Super Bowl- Go Big or don’t bother!

Late Edition Addition: Honda’s Acura brand is pulling out all the stops for its first appearance as a Super Bowl advertiser. The brand has a minute-long spot featuring Jerry Seinfeld, who tries his hardest to move from number 20 to first on the list to get the new, upcoming 2012 NSX. There’s appearances by the Soup Nazi, Jay Leno, an, an alien and dancing holographic monkeys. You can see the longer 1:52 version here

Acura says it wants to strengthen its brand awareness. No doubt. The brand sold 123,299 new vehicles in the USA last year, an 8% drop from 2010.

The spot, called “Transactions,” was created by Acura’s agency rp&, a sibling of Honda’s longtime shop RP&A in Santa Monica.

OUCH! And Chevrolet has taken direct aim at Volkswagen’s already-released Big Game commercial teaser, with dogs barking out Star Wars’ theme song.

General Motors’ volume brand has uploaded a dog video of its own, from the popular OK Go group. Chevy teamed with the band for a new MTV video arriving this weekend featuring the Sonic. Chevy doesn’t call out VW by name, but in describing the video on YouTube says “we’ve all seen videos with talented dogs. Chevrolet’s favorite came from OK Go last year.”

Let the game begin!

(See my earlier posts for Chevrolet, Volkswagen, Lexus and Suzuki’s Bowl entries)

MAKING TRACKS: Anthony Kuhn joined Everist Genomics Inc as Director of Strategic Alliances. Tony has lots of ad agency experience, having worked at TBWA, Lowe and Bozell.

FOLLOW ME, JEAN HALLIDAY : on Facebook & LinkedIn

On TWITTER @jhal2001

The SUV is back????

Chrysler Group is really pushing the 2011 Dodge Durango, which went on sale earlier this year after a two-year absence from the market. Dodge issued a press release Aug. 4 touting the arrival of a slew of new television ads and online videos for the new Dodge Durango.
Actually, the most recent Durango commercial broke July 12 during baseball’s All Star Game.
That ad, called “Long Lost Performance,” does indeed spotlight Durango’s performance
watch?v=EcY4Di6OgWw&feature=related
Dodge also uploaded that commercial on YouTube July 12. It seems the automaker wasn’t too thrilled that the ad had attracted under 25,000 views, so it issued the press release on Aug.4.
There’s already been some blogosphere banter about how the first commercial is too focused on performance. I have different issues with the campaign.
What’s interesting is Dodge’s blurb on YouTube about this spot: “With crossovers trying to convince drivers that cars can be SUVs and with SUVs hiding out pretending to be minivans, the Durango commits to being a true SUV.”
As you can see the ad blitz for the Durango by Wieden + Kennedy, based in Portland, is themed “The SUV is back.”
The critics focusing on the performance matter are off base. The real issues are:
A) The Durango is NOT an SUV according to industry definitions
and
B) The SUV is NOT back.
Let’s start with A. The new Durango still looks like an SUV, except gone is its old body-on-frame truck base. Now the Durango sits on a car-like unibody.
And on the B issue, there is NO WAY sport utes are ever going to be as strong as they were in their heyday.
Between 1997 and 2002, sales of sport utes jumped 56%, or one for every eight licensed American drivers, according to the Census Bureau. Or, in raw numbers, there were more than 24-million suvs in 2002 than 1997, when there were 15 million on the road.
Sales of truck-based SUVs peaked in 2000 at nearly 3 million units and in 2002, utes were villified by religious groups that launched a “What Would Jesus Drive” campaign against them. Critics blasted the big suvs for hurting the environment and cited the gass guzzlers as the key reason Uncle Sam was fighting in the Middle East.
Volatile gas prices starting in 2006 and escalating in 2008 pretty much put the final kabosh on big truck-based utes, when owners bailed out of the segment faster than anytime in history.
So let’s call it already– the SUV is dead!
HOWEVER, its car-based cousin, the crossover, is picking up the slack. Yeah, the semantics matter little to many Americans since crossover utility vehicles, or CUVs, often LOOK like SUVs. The difference is CUVs are car-based, while SUVs are truck based.
But the Durango is really a CUV and calling it an SUV is midleading. It may have started out an SUV when it first debuted, but it isn’t anymore. The misnomer will cause more consumer confusion.
The new ads, which include online-only videos, includes this TV spot comparing the “luxurious” interior of the Durango to a certain high-performance car that rhymes with Merrari
watch?v=3QKmMvbluZg
Let’s not forget that Fiat now owns more than half of Chrysler Group and also owns Ferrari, the high-end car brand referred to in the commercial.
The new Durango blitz isn’t all about performance. Consider this online video touting the rain brake support safety feature
watch?v=CcLZIIpKd3g&feature=relmfu
Of course the WORST Durango commercial ever – from GlobalHue – didn’t last on the air very long about five years ago

watch?v=jdUP3dtRynk

The other problem I have with these new spots is they don’t carry the same ending that Dodge launched at the Chicago Auto Show with much fan fare.
That’s a mysterious move since Dodge used the ending in this first Durango spot back in February hailing the model’s return

A missed branding opportunity.
The new Durango is much improved from its predecessor and deserves a more truthful ad campaign.  And just saying “the SUV is back” doesn’t make it so.

MAKING TRACKS: Tim Boutorwick is now a product insight strategist as a contract staffer for Fallon’s Detroit office on the Cadillac account. Boutorwick has more than 20 years of auto agency experience. This is his third time in the last 5 years he’s worked on Caddy, first at Leo Burnett Detroit in Troy and then at Modernista, Boston.

Chevy Runs Deep

Gotta admit I was skeptical when I first heard a few days ago that Chevrolet’s new ad tag was “Chevy Runs Deep.” What in the world does THAT mean? There were some immediate negative reactions in the online chat rooms that the line was mysterious and would never be as iconic as some of famous ones from Chevrolet’s long-time ad agency Campbell-Ewald – “Like a Rock” for trucks and the classic “See the USA in Your Chevrolet.” Cynics were saying Chevy was in deep all right.

But I changed my mind after sitting through this morning’s press conference in Detroit with GM’s US marketing chief Joel Ewanick, Chevy’s marketing VP Chris Perry and Jeff Goodby, co-chief of Chevy’s new agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. Seeing the new work obviously helped put the whole thing in perspective.

The first commercials in the new campaign show off Chevy’s 99-year U.S. heritage with a look to current models and the future. (Some footage was shot recently with vintage cameras to give them an old look). There’s an obvious attempt to tap into emotions, but it isn’t overly sappy. The positioning of Chevy as this country’s all-American car brand is done without waving the flag in your face. There IS a bit of chest-beating – like the line “This isn’t just any car company. This is Chevy.” But thankfully the ads don’t do too much of that and the narration of actor-comic Tim Allen helps.

Take a look at the :60 brand anthem commercial that’s breaking tonight during the World Series broadcast

[http://tinyurl.com/chevyanthem%5D
The three other commercials are all :30s and are part of what Perry called “shared moments” of “those emotional events that kind of connect us as a society.” One shows owners posing proudly with their first Chevrolets. Another is of couples bringing their newborns home in their cars, with Mississippi John Hurt’s soulful rendition of “You are my Sunshine.” The final spot, for Chevy pickups, is a montage of dogs in the trucks, with Hank Williams’ “Move it On Over” (his first big hit in 1947).

There’s not a lot of narration from Tim Allen in those three commercials and that works fine.

The out-of-home posters are so cool that lots of people are really going to want them. I’ll be first in line! There’s also digital, print and social media.

It’s good to see Chevy making a serious play in the ad game after more than a year of ad agency turmoil and insanity. GM needs Chevrolet to do well. Chevy accounts for 7 out of every 10 new vehicles GM sells, Ewanick said today.

Before you criticize “Chevy Runs Deep” remember what Publicis, and Chevy’s old management had planned for an ad tag- “Excellence For All.” Ewanick dumped both the agency and the tag and hired Goodby, Silverstein, which now has roughly 100 people working on the account in Detroit. (See my May 26 post “New Era for GM Advertising?)

We weren’t a fan of Campbell-Ewald’s “American Revolution” campaign that started in 2003, but have reason to believe it was driven by the client. Regular readers know how I felt about Howie Long in Chevy ads and glad to see him gone. (nothing personal, Howie )

“A lot of pressure is put on tag lines,” but they’re all about context, Jeff Goodby said today. “You have to let these develop.”

I know what he means. After Goodby won the Hyundai account in spring 2007 (Ewanick was Hyundai’s marketing VP then) the first big blitz the agency did was a shocker- carless car commercials that asked viewers to “Think About It” and visit the web site of the same name.

I wasn’t an early fan and neither were Hyundai dealers. But after a short time we all got the message and Hyundai is still using that ad tag today.

Stay tuned.

MAKING TRACKS: Michael Jackson, hired in January by CODA Automotive as senior vice president of global sales and distribution, has left the electric-car maker.

 

Subaru Gets More

Subaru of America has a sense of humor.
The automaker had a challenge: how to get the word out about not-so-visible, under-the-hood handling improvements to the WRX STI Impreza.
“How do you bring that handling to life,” Marketing Director Kevin Mayer told me. “How can we make it tangible?”
Working with its ad agency Carmichael Lynch, Minneapolis, Subbie did a cattle call with extras, who had no idea what the shoot entailed.
Each jumped into the passenger seat of the new WRX STI, driven by Subaru-backed race car driver Dave Mirra, who zoomed around a California track with each of them for about 30 minutes.
The results of the selected “winners” are hilarious and were first teased about a month ago in :15 versions online via Subaru’s Facebook page, directing viewers to GetMoreGS.com. The teasers got more than 1.6-million hits, Mayer told me.
This week, Subaru started airing :30 versions on national cable TV nets, including Speed, G4, ESPN and Spike.
You can watch them all here

Lana Takes A Spin

This is smart marketing and it’s paying off for Subaru.
The company is having another stellar sales year, tallying a 30% jump in new-vehicle sales to 149,943 units through July, besting the overall industry’s increase of 15%.

Condolences: To the family of Jack Pitney, who died last week in a tragic accident on his farm. BMW of North America’s vice president of marketing was to start Sept. 1 as veep over BMW’s eastern region, its biggest sales zone. BMW created this web site to honor him.
Jack Pitney

We will miss you, Jack.

Mercury’s Rear View Mirror

Mercury’s long, strange road is coming to its final destination and will rest in peace with other brands like its short-lived sibling Edsel, Chrysler’s Plymouth and Eagle, along with GM’s Oakland, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer. Ford Motor Co. finally pulled the plug officially, saying it will stop production on the brand’s products at year’s end.
The heyday for Mercury, which first arrived on the scene in fall 1938 as a ’39 model, is long past. Insiders at Ford and outsiders have debated its future for decades. Mercury was a place for officials to get their tickets punched and move onto the bigger Ford Division.
Mercury models have long been similar, but spiffier versions of their Ford sibling. Think Bobcat (Ford Pinto); Capri (Mustang); Sable (Taurus); Tracer (Escort) Mountaineer (Explorer); Mariner (Escape) yadda, yadda yadda.
No wonder it was so hard to figure out exactly what the brand’s positioning and differentiators were. And when you can’t do that, how in the world can you clearly create messages to convey the core of the brand?
Mercury shifted ad themes too often. It confused people. Mercury changed targets from mainly men to more recently primarily women, but the audience has flip flopped several times over the decades. The brand’s core positioning changed, depending on who was running the division and which new products were coming. Let’s face it, the brand had an identity crisis.
The demise of a long-standing, well-known car brand is a big deal, so what better time for a retrospective of Mercury ads and agencies.
Here’s how it all started, ad-wise from N.W. Ayer & Son, for the first Merc

Mercury Arrives!

Readers of a certain age will recall Cougar commercials with a real live big cat and ones like this 1975 spot that built viz and an acting career for Farrah Fawcett

Here’s another one for Cougar from 1980

A personal favorite was the “Imagine TV” campaign that arrived in fall 1997 from Y&R, under the baton of Ian Beavis, then ad manager of Lincoln-Mercury. All seven commercials were edgy vignettes that appeared to be airing on a fictional network. At least it broke through the clutter of some of the other sleep-inducing auto ads at the time.

The effort extended the marketer’s two-year-old “Imagine Yourself in a Mercury” theme. Problem was not enough buyers were doing that.

Mercury shifted gears again in fall ’99 with “Live Life in Your Own Lane.” That’s one of those tag lines that you could apply to lots of car brands, so nothing special there.

“New Doors Opened” broke in fall 2004 as the new tag-with music created by Grammy winning artists’ Paula Cole and Don Was. The thinking, according to the press materials at the time” was the campaign would “feature the vitality of the Mercury brand woven into the everyday discoveries of modern life.” Huh?

Mercury tried several weird, online webisode gambits. Also in the fall of 2004, it debuted “Meet the Lucky Ones,” exploring the bizarre, connected lives of 10 people. Tedious as it was, Mercury said it drove traffic to mercuryvehicles.com by 400%.
Then came the bizarro, what-were-they-thinking TheNeverything.com webisodes about two brothers living like children on a houseboat in the middle of a field.

The “new doors” closed in 2006, when aspiring, young actress Jill Wagner was tapped to appear in ads telling viewers “You’ve got to put Mercury on your list.”

But in 2007, Ford slashed national ad spending for Mercury, letting the regional dealer groups
carry the ball.

In mythology the god Mercury was among the most favorite of the ancient deities. Too bad the car brand didn’t have the same popularity as the wing-footed god.