Tag Archives: General Motors

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

 

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

GM Poised to Hire Global Chevy Chief

General Motors is close to hiring a new global chief for Chevrolet who would oversee all its sales, service, advertising and brand management.

GM is said to be readying an offer to a global executive currently working in Europe outside the auto industry

That would be about right since GM CEO Dan Akerson himself is from outside the industry and doesn’t necessarily believe auto experience is mandatory for key jobs at the automaker.

Akerson has been criticized for moving execs without auto industry experience into key posts. Last fall, GM’s CEO tapped Bob Ferguson to the newly-created position of VP to head Cadillac globally, overseeing retail, marketing, brand management and advertising for the lux brand in all markets around the world.

Ferguson was a former AT&T executive and GM lobbyist, who now reports directly to Akerson.

The new Chevy and Cadillac global chiefs will replace a single global CMO at GM. Last year, Akerson moved Alan Batey to VP-US sales and service and interim global CMO after CMO Joel Ewanick was pushed out.

Ewanick’s hand-picked, right-hand man, Chris Perry, is the current global marketing chief for Chevrolet and was said to be a contender for the new global Chevy post that, like Ferguson at Cadillac, would also oversee sales and service.

GM’s moves to hire non-auto outsiders brings back the nightmare of the 1990s, when it brought in Ron Zarrella from Bausch & Lomb as its brand czar in North America, along with a slew of outsiders for brand managers of individual models. It wasn’t long before he was quickly promoted to president of North American operations. Under the marching orders of Board Chairman John Smale, another non-car guy, GM shifted to an ill-advised and clunky brand management system that wasted billions of dollars trying to create individual personalities for virtually all model , which were being designed by committee. It was a disaster of epic proportions. Zarrella resigned in late 2001, within months after GM hired Bob Lutz to succeed him. Zarrella amazingly admitted in a conference call with reporters before he left that he learned much about the car business in the several weeks he had spent with Lutz at GM. Mind you, this was the head of GM in North America confessing to on-the-job training !

GM doesn’t have time to train an industry newbie for the Chevy worldwide post. The brand is preparing to launch more than 20 vehicles around the world this year as it continues a push to grow globally. The new bowtie chief, whoever it is, needs to be able to immediately start swimming in the job, not jumping onto a learning curve and possibly sinking.

MAKING TRACKS: Abbey Berryman joins Carat USA as VP-director on the Chevrolet account from Vibrant Media, where she was senior sales manager. Berryman, a seasoned media maven, also worked on Chevy’s account as media director at Starcom, GM’s former media shop. Congrats!

MAKING TRACKS II: Colleen DeCourcy is moving to Widen+Kennedy in Portland as co-global executive creative director from Socialistic, the social media shop she started in 2010. The move brings DeCourcy back on the Chrysler account, among others. She worked on the automaker’s digital account when she was chief creative officer of Omnicom Group’s Organic.

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

On Twitter @jhal2001

Chevy Ads Run Deep/Shallow

General Motors’ volume Chevrolet brand is in the midst of advertising for two key car models: its newest-generation Malibu and the 2013 Spark.

Chevy says the Malibu is the auto industry’s longest-running mid-size nameplate, having first arrived in 1964 as the top model in Chevelle’s line. So the newest generation of the sedan in the competitive mid-size category deserves a top-shelf send-off.

The Spark mini car is aimed at a younger crowd who could be the next wave of loyal GM buyers.

Both cars have gotten decent reviews.

It’s not unusual for a mass-market car brand to have two very different kinds of campaigns for different models. The rub here is the blitz for the Malibu doesn’t do the car justice. The work out there, so far, is shallow. It doesn’t run deep. But the Spark campaign is much more creative and entertaining.

What’s puzzling is the work comes from the same ad agency- Commonwealth, which seems to have a split personality.

That’s entirely possible since Commonwealth was created earlier this year with a 50-50 venture between agencies from two different public holding companies: Omnicom Group’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and Interpublic Group of Cos.’ McCann Erickson Worldwide. Both ad agencies were already on GM’s roster, but this new entity is handling Chevrolet in most parts of the world.

The new Malibu campaign is in full swing. Check out this national Malibu television commercial, called “State of Mind”

 There’s nothing compelling about this commercial. It’s like Commonwealth just phoned in this car-on-road, B-roll video with narrator Tim Allen talking about product benefits. And what exactly is this mysterious “Malibu state of mind?”

Malibu is also chasing women shoppers with a separate, integrated blitz featuring fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi. He’s created his new Chevy Malibu collection, which he and Chevy are touting all over the internet in videos like this

His collection is now being sold on Living Social, which has good reach with 70 million members around the world. There’s also an online promotion offering a $5,000 shopping spree. Chevy’s marriage to Mizrahi is interesting to say the least. It’s certainly not the first time GM has partnered with a fashion designer. From 1996 through 2000, GM teamed with the Council of Fashion Designers for Concept:Cure, a fundraiser for breast cancer research. Every year several designers would get a single GM model from across its brands to rework with interior and exterior colors and fabrics. Chevy’s now-defunct Cavalier was a mainstay of Concept:Cure.

GM’s new media agency, Aegis Group’s Carat, put the deal together with Mizrahi. Time Inc. produced some 50 online videos for the blitz- yes 50!. The videos can be seen on Time-Warner’s stable of sites, which certainly makes the whole deal seem like a giant media buying deal, although the effort does include non-Time-Warner sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Mizrahi said “each piece of my capsule collection was inspired by the features of the car, from the leather seats that feel like they are hugging you, to the ice-blue interior lighting.”

That interior lighting color is the inspiration for his Malibu Blouse, a $140 robin-blue number made of silk crepe.

Mary Kubitskey, Malibu’s advertising manager, said “collaborating with Isaac Mizrahi on this collection has helped us speak to women who embrace style, but want a smart product to make their lives easier.”

Okay, but not sure how a $140 blouse will make anyone’s life easier.

There’s been some hand-wringing on LinkedIn auto groups that this tie-in positions the new Malibu as a “chick car.” Such fretting isn’t warranted, since Chevy is balancing media buys for the Malibu with heavy rotations during NFL and post-season MLB games. It’s doubtful most men will even catch onto the Malibu-Mizrahi marriage. Despite this, the whole tie-in seems a bit forced.

Let’s move onto the Spark.

The little city car, an import from GM’s South Korean operations, first arrived here in 2009. Chevy is now giving the 2013- model Spark a digital-only push, with no plans to take the videos to television.

Since the Spark is a global car, Chevy wanted the videos to have a global feel. So the campaign is themed “Importing our Export.” The first online videos of the 2013 blitz started on YouTube and Chevrolet.com/Spark, featuring ads from around the world.

Here’s one the first, called “Anthem”

The video is a compilation of online spots that are generally fun and engaging. I especially like this video, dubbed “Hurdy Gurdy” that touts the car’s movie-watching capabilities from the USB port

What a creative way to show off that feature!

Although the Spark is aimed at a younger crowd, some of the videos have a lot of cross-generational appeal.

Chevy said the campaign has already gotten over a million views and lots of positive feedback.

Commonwealth hits it out of the ball park for the Spark, but strikes out for the Malibu. A mass market car like the Malibu doesn’t and shouldn’t have to have bland, mass-market advertising.

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*This post first appeared in CNW’s monthly Retail Automotive Summary, a subscriber-only newsletter, as my AdRap column.

MAKING TRACKS: Stay tuned to see who will fill two major car marketing jobs in Detroit. Ford Motor Co. is looking for a marketing chief for Lincoln, after moving  C.J. O’Donnell, group marketing manager, to head marketing of Ford’s electric vehicles. And GM is looking for a global VP to oversee Chevrolet brand management, advertising, and marketing, with sales and service also expected to be part of the job. Earlier this month, GM tapped its lobbyist, Bob Ferguson, to that same newly-created global post at Cadillac. Currently Chris Perry heads Chevrolet marketing globally and is said to be a candidate for the newly-created job.

MAKING TRACKS UPDATE: Don Romano, former CMO of Mazda in North America and president of Mazda Canada,  is now managing director and CMO of  Toyota Saudi Arabia.

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

On Twitter: @jhal2001

Nissan’s Olympic Gold

Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. made a lot of noise at its global headquarters today about  one of the most popular athletes of the 2012 Summer Games in London.

The Japanese automaker inked a deal with Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, who not only extends his brand ambassador deal with Nissan’s hot GT-R sports car, but he gets the outrageous title of global title “Director of Excitement” at the company.

WOW! Fun stuff.

Nissan flew Bolt in for the hoopla and posted s lots of videos (in Japanese) of his arrival at the airport, leaving the airport in the GT-R and the more formal events with corporate brass in Yokohama. Said Bolt : “Racing is my inspiration, and I want to help Nissan become an even more exciting brand for everyone.”

The carmaker said it will develop a special, limited-edition GT-R although no specifics were given. Nissan presented Bolt with a unique, gold GT-R, which will be auctioned online to benefit his Usain Bolt Foundation.

Details of that auction are due later this month and will benefit children and young adults in Jamaica.

Not usually a fan of celebrity tie-ins, but this one works since the GT-R is such a niche model. Nissan sold just 968 of them in the US in the first 9 months of 2012.

The links are almost too obvious, really. Bolt has a slew of Olympic gold medals & his special version of the car is gold. Bolt is called the fastest man in the world and the GT-R is crazy fast. The 2013 model churns out 545 horses, while still meeting ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV) standards.

Nissan first hooked up with Bolt early this year. Within months, Bolt, a GT-R owner since 2009, was appearing in airport ads for the car and online videos like this one for Nissan,  themed “What if you had no competition”

Smart move, Nissan.

MAKING TRACKS: General Motors Chairman-CEO CEO Dan Akerson tapped Robert Ferguson to the new position of vice president to lead Cadillac’s growth and development globally. Ferguson, 53, joined GM in 2010 and was VP for global public policy. He’ll now be responsible for Cadillac marketing, brand management and advertising around the world.

I’m sure Ferguson is a very smart and decent man. But the fact of the matter is Cadillac needs and deserves a proven player to lead it forward. There’s no time for learning curves here. That boat has sailed and Cadillac is already late.

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

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.

Follow me, Jean Halliday, on LinkedIn and Facebook.

On Twitter: @jhal2001

BIG IDEA FROM HYUNDAI’S MOTHER SHIP

South Korea- based Hyundai has been on a roll in the past several years, with much-improved products that have boosted sales and lifted the brand’s image around the world.

Why mess with success, right?

Not exactly.

The marketing “gurus” at the Mother Ship in Seoul decided it was time for Hyundai’s first worldwide ad campaign to build a consistent global message for the brand. Or maybe they felt it was time to flex their authoritative muscles or justify their positions.

What did they come up with?  A new brand campaign themed  “Live Brilliant.”

Really?

Take a look at this lame attempt to stir emotions, just one of four :60 television commercials in the series

How does this differentiate Hyundai from others? Not much. Seems you could just pick another car brand and insert it into this spot. Also don’t see how this ties to Hyundai’s stated strategy to reinforce its new brand direction of “Modern Premium.”

Who uses the word “brilliant” anyway, unless you’re talking about your kids?

Believe it or not, Hyundai says it spent a year doing leg work preparing for this, including consumer research. Then it shot the commercials over 10 days in Los Angeles earlier this year.

And the Mother Ship spent some dough on this, hiring award winning German director Juergen Bollmeyer and buying “Departures,” the song from “Like Crazy,” which won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Drama last year at  Sundance.

What Hyundai’s Mother Ship DIDN’T do was consult in other regions with its marketing chiefs or officials from Innocean, the ad agency owned by Hyundai’s controlling family. Instead, the Mother Ship simply forced this work down their throats, regional strategies be damned.

Mind you, Hyundai in North America just launched its new ad slogan “New Thinking. New Possibilities” about 14 months ago. It takes a lot of time for the public to grasp new ad themes. Sometimes people never catch on to ad tags, especially if they are inane, which too many of them are.

We’re not a fan of the Mother Ship dictating ads to other parts of the world.

Here’s some examples. From Japan, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. decided in 2011 it was time for its Subaru of America arm to use the new ad theme “Confidence in Motion,” which has zero emotional appeal. From Germany, Volkswagen insisted in 2009 that VW of America use “Das Auto” to convey German engineering. DUH!

Hyundai’s “Brilliant” idea?

I think not.

MAKING TRACKS: Michael Jackson is returning to Motown and he’s bringing his year-old ad agency with him.

His year-old shop, Jackson & Partners, is relocating from Las Vegas to Midtown Detroit and expects to create 30 news jobs in the next three years. Jackson’s partners are Detroit-area native and auto creative chief Gary Topolewski, along with Randy Easterbrook, an indie communications consultant who has done work for many big companies, including General Motors and Mini.

 Jackson joined GM in 2000 as executive director of sales and marketing support, but he rose to VP-marketing and advertising for North America in 2006, overseeing a $2-billion-plus ad budget.  He left GM and Detroit in 2007.  Since then he was CEO of SPEEDSHAPE, worked at digital shop Sarkissian Mason and more recently VP of global sales and distribution for Coda in California.

 J&P’s current client roster includes auto dealers on both coasts, plus brand-building work for a nationally-known jewelry group.

Mr. Easterbrook is in the process of moving from New York.

Topolewski’s experience includes Jeep at Bozell, where he and his team won a Gold Lion at Cannes; Cadillac at Leo Burnett; and Nissan, Taco Bell and Apple at TBWA/Chiat/Day.

Good luck, guys!

MAKING TRACKS TOO: Bob Rickert has joined the Denver-area office of HMH as executive creative director, handling accounts that include Nike, Freightliner, Detroit Diesel and Dr. Martens. Rickert had stints at David&Goliath on Kia and Saatchi & Saatchi on Toyota.

You can find me, Jean Halliday, on Facebook and LinkedIn and also on Twitter @ jhal2001