Tag Archives: Audi

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.

Follow me, Jean Halliday, on LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook

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.

 

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.

Follow me, Jean Halliday, on LinkedIn and Facebook

and on Twitter @jhal2001

Super Bowl Auto Ad Pileup

The Super Bowl of advertising is almost here.
And there’s a slew of carmakers advertising in the big game’s broadcast Feb. 6 on Fox.
Far and away the best of the bunch is Kia, which is launching the newest Optima with this over-the-top :60 from DavidandGoliath in El Segundo, California

Epic, indeed. This commercial is so arresting and unusual for the auto category. We predict Kia will get a ton of buzz and online traffic from this.
Glad to see Mercedes-Benz again using Janis Joplin’s famous song in its minute-long Super Bowl commercial in the fourth quarter. This is a very hard working commercial from Merkley & Partners, New York, since it covers heritage, safety, the 125th anniversary PLUS the global unveiling of four new models. Sean Combs provides comic relief.

VW has two commercials in the game- one for the new Passat; the other for the upcoming Beetle.
The Passat spot is cute

Sorry, but this one for the Beetle gives me the creeps.

VW called this commercial a bold move (wasn’t that Ford’s slogan a few years back?) since only the profile of the upcoming Beetle is shown. But let’s face it, the ultimate car commercial that DIDN’T SHOW the vehicle was Jeep’s “Snow Covered” from 1994 via Bozell Detroit

Chevrolet has five commercials. None of them are bombs, but this one for the Cruze has the potential to upset some folks, including the AARP

Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco handles Chevy. This one, for the Camaro, has a surprising twist

“Never mess with a Chevy, dude” is an understatement.

Then there’s this quirky one for the Silverado, which falls flat

Hyundai, which is launching the new Elantra, has this visually-cool spot called “Deprogramming” in the third quarter. And who doesn’t love the Dude narrating?

Hyundai’s ad agency, Innocean Worldwide Americas in Huntington Beach, California, also created this one for the 2011 Elantra called “Hypnotize.”

It sort of reminds me of one that Arnold did for the VW Jetta years ago called “Synchronicity.”

Audi of America put out a couple of teaser videos on YouTube to set the stage for its minute-long commercial in the first quarter. Sax player Kenny G will play his horn to help supress a riot in Luxury Prison.

Audi also posted this tongue-in-cheek “Startled Smart” video as a teaser. Audi follows its on-going theme of being the emblem of new luxury, while poking fun at old luxury

Suzuki made a spot buy to advertise in 14 markets during the Super Bowl- it’s first appearance. The automaker is recycling this fun commercial called “Wicked Weather” from Siltanen & Partners Advertising, El Segundo, California, for the 2011 Kizashi sport sedan.

We’ll have to wait for game day to see BMW’s and Chrysler Group’s. Oh- they decided to keep their commercials a big secret. It’s advertising, guys! Not espionage.

MAKING TRACKS: Kim (Kosak) Brink is out at GM, where she started right out of college in 1989 as a market research analyst at Chevy. Her last day as executive director of Cadillac advertising was Jan. 28th. Apparently she didn’t fit in with the new marketing regime. Hey, Kim, you had a great run and were part of the heady days of the Cadillac mafia earlier this decade.