Tag Archives: car ads

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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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.

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*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 Fusion Makes Rivals “Invisible”

Ford Motor Co. will be hammering away at how darn good-looking its 2013 Ford Fusion is in the multi-media launch blitz.

The automaker isn’t off base with this strategy, since the redone midsize sedan has gotten a slew of very positive ink for its good looks – not really a staple in the segment.

“The media  launch of the Fusion will showcase how Ford is shaking up the bland midsize sedan segment,” said Jim Farley, exec VP and group VP of global marketing, sales and service. “Why do car buyers have to sacrifice styling and forward-looking design for fuel economy? They don’t.”

This isn’t the first time a carmaker  has zeroed in on styling to push a midsize sedan. Most memorably, Nissan and its ad agency , TBWA, used “Cure for the Common Car” in fall 2001 to launch the 2002 Altima. Still, styling hasn’t traditionally been the focus to advertise cars in this category.

Ford and its ad agency, WPP Group’s Team Detroit in Dearborn, hired Chinese artist Liu Bolin as a consultant for the print ads. Bolin is known around the world for painting his body and clothes to camouflage himself in photographs and he helped TeamDetroit create print ads that make competitors’ cars invisible.

This behind-the-scenes video will give you a better look at Team Detroit’s Big Idea

The look of the ads is pretty cool and the Big Idea works with the strategy without being obnoxious or naming rivals.

The new Fusion is also on the back cover of Maxim’s annual “Best Stuff of the Year issue, due Nov. 18. Ford’s Mustang is on the magazine’s cover – a nice double play. Toby Barlow, chief creative officer of Team Detroit, said the magazine approached Ford, not visa versa.

Amy Marentic, group marketing manager at Ford,  said the Fusion launch ads try to use design and technology to stand out in the crowded midsize segment. “We also knew we had to appeal to the rational side, and the most rational thing about this car is the fuel economy,” she said.

So the ads do mention MPG. The theme line in the TV spots is : It’s an entirely new idea of what a car can be.”

The agency extended the “disappearing” act of the print ads to one of its three national TV commercials, like this :30 one :

The final editing of the final two spots got delayed by Super Storm Sandy; the outfit doing the work is based in lower Manhattan. One touts “while everyone else seems to be going in the wrong direction, Ford is not just going forward, it’s going in an entirely new direction.”

But the third spot is the most dramatic. This commercial, for the Fusion Hybrid, touts the car’s “outstanding performance” and estimated 100 mpg range.  It also shows viewers the only thing the car can’t do- drive off a cliff. Yes, Team Detroit “jumped” a new Fusion in a one-take shot in Vancouver and the ad should attract eyeballs. Once it breaks, there will be a behind-the-scenes video of how the spot was made. (The car used in the stunt isn’t drivable, Barlow said).

In typical Ford fashion, this big media part of the launch came only after a major pre-launch that started digitally with a big push in July. Marentic said Farley challenged her team to encourage 300,000 consumers to build and price the new Fusion before it went on sale.

Enter “Random Acts of Fusion,” a massive social media, online video effort starring Ryan Seacrest, Joel McHale and Kate Micucci. Ford launched the push on national TV in July, along with the site RandomActsofFusion.com. The push included scavenger hunts, local events and chances to win one of 3 Fusions.

In this video, McHale and Micucci explain how they’re going to create a documentary with the 100 new Fusions they got from Secrest.

OK. Not the funniest video ever and the others are similar in tone. Still, Ford said 2 million people have visited the Random site, which tallied more than 12 million video views. Plus, the push nearly doubled Farley’s goal for online Fusion build-and-pricing by consumers, reaching more than 520,000, Marentic said.

Ford isn’t done yet for the Fusion. Coming Thursday, Nov, 15 is “Go Further with Ford Night” at local dealers, named for the brand’s new ad tag. For each person who visits a participating Ford dealer that night, the dealer will donate $10 – up to a total of $500 – to a local charity. Some 2,200 Ford dealers have already signed up to participate, Marentic said. People who register at a dealership that day will be entered into a prize drawing to win a new Fusion.

Visitors 18 and older can also try to win a VIP trip to see the popular “American Idol” TV show by testing their talent judging skills on camera. Each dealership will have a webcam to see a special message from Seacrest before they do some judging on camera. (Ford has been a long-time backer of American Idol style, which returns in January on FOX.

Ford is certainly backing the new Fusion with a major push that should build street cred and sales for the car.

MAKING TRACKS: Ford Motor’s Jim Farley, already exec VP and group VP of global marketing, sales and service for the Ford brand, adds the Lincoln brand. Farley quickly moved Matt Van Dyke from US director of marketing communications for Ford and Lincoln to director of Lincoln globally for marketing, sales and service. He’ll report to Farley. The two men have known each other since 2000 and worked together when Farley headed Toyota’s lux Lexus brand and Van Dyke was the account chief at the brand’s ad agency, TeamOne.

Kevin Koeppen, who had been manager-advertising and media, succeeds Van Dyke.

You can find me, Jean Halliday, on LinkedIn, Facebook and Forbes.com

On Twitter at jhal2001