Audi Launching New A7; Aims for Bigger Chunk of Higher End Lux Market

Audi of America is stepping away from poking fun at rivals in launch ads for its new A7 coupe-styled sedan. Thank heavens! That approach was getting tiring and snarky. With all the progress the brand has been making in recent year- enough already.

Audi CMO Scott Keogh told me at the NY Auto Show the company “had to” challenge rivals in ads because “it was a way to short cut” a rise for the brand. Now for the A7 launch, he says “we want to challenge boring design,” but without naming competitors.

The first television commercial for the car will break any minute. It’s based on Audi’s ad theme for the new A7: “A boldly designed car deserves a boldly designed world.” One magazine headline tells us “The world has some catching up to do.”

Keogh told me “we wanted to use this opportunity to challenge hum-drum design in the world, not just in automobiles.”

This bold design idea carries into digital- on Facebook- at

The A7 television spot from Venables Bell & Partners, San Francisco, is simply delightful. Themed “ready the road,” it shows a montage of people preparing a thoroughfare for the arrival of the A7. They’re vacuuming, repainting the yellow lines and polishing man hole covers. One man even climbs on a traffic signal to chase away pigeons that might drop, shall we say, something undesireable on the car. The ad ends with the line “Luxury has progressed,” the same used for ads for the flagship A8 that broke during the Super Bowl.

Here’s a rough cut of the spot

Audi started the A7 blitz in Manhattan with a 15,000-square-foot LED interactive board in Times Square at 46th Street and Broadway, passed by more than a million people every day. Audi invited pedestrians to Tweet their ideas about where to find bold design and favorite bold place to the billboard via #BoldDesign. Their answers appeared on the billboard via an updated Twitter feed and people could also check into the billboard on either foursquare or Facebook Places. People could also send in their ideas via their mobiles, where they could check out locations suggested on the billboard.

You can check out the big board here-

Audi’s media agency, MediaCom in New York, devised and implemented this outdoor push, while the automaker’s social media shops, ZAAZ and M80, handled design and digital extensions.

While we’re on the topic of social media a big CONGRATS to Audi for having THE most engaged “fans” on Facebook, based on newly-released research by Visibli in February and March. Audi USA on Facebook got more “likes” to postings on its page, tallying more 225 “likes” per 100,000 fans, enough to top Justin Bieber in second place, Rapper Chamillionaire and Lady Gaga.

The A7, redesigned for the 2012 model year, is the second Audi vehicle in the brand’s plans to win more sales in the category for pricier and larger cars, or in what Audi calls the D segment. That’s Euro nomenclature. The new A7 carries a starting MSRP of $60,125, which includes delivery fees.

Audi of America President Johan de Nysschen announced at the NY Auto Show that 25% of the brand’s USA sales will come from pricier models- A6s, A7s and A8, by 2015 and that his annual sales target is 200,000 units.

There’s a lot of opportunity in this upper lux arena, Keogh told me. But why chase the upper range now?  The more someone will pay for your brand, the stronger your brand will be,” Keogh answered.

If Audi’s track record in the past 5 years is any indication, rivals should be nervous, very nervous.

Thanks to a broadened lineup of beautiful models with an unrelenting emphasis on quality details, along with aggressive advertising, Audi USA captured   10.5% of luxury intenders in the fourth quarter of 2010, compared to  just  t6.1% in the final period of 2006, says GfK Automotive. That’s a 72% jump, folks.

INSERT AutoIntenders Chart

 Audi has also boosted online leads in the same 2006 and 2010 periods by 30% to 56,003, says GfK, and weekly showroom foot traffic rose by 18% to 72,112.

From 2006 to late 2010, Audi jumped to second as the most cross-shopped lux brand, from seventh. Yes, BMW is still tops, but Lexus dropped from second to third and Mercedes-Benz from third to fourth.

All good stuff. We’ve seen auto brands rise and fall before. It’s not easy for a brand to stay at the top forever. And rising contenders must remember to stay on course and not spend too much time resting on laurels.

Stay tuned for the new A6 this fall.

JUST WONDERING: What was Honda and its ad agency, RPA, thinking with this launch work for the new 2012 Civic?


Yeah, we get there’s 5 different models for different kinds of people, but zombies and ninjas? Really? Well, we like the music anyway from Snake & Jet’s Amazing Bullit Band.

MAKING TRACKS: Tim Mahoney, who split from Subaru of America for the VW brand, where he’ll be CMO and chief product officer, reporting directly to President-CEO Jonathan Browning. VW’s Tim Ellis, VP-marketing, will report to Mahoney. Hmmm.

Mahoney was on a roll during his second stint at Subaru, starting in 2006- this time as senior VP and CMO. Make no mistake- Mahoney knows marketing and understands a brand needs consistent advertising. Subaru’s recent David Ogilvy Awards for Excellence in Advertising is a testament to Mahoney’s vision and ad agency Carmichael Lynch, Minneapolis.

VW has some catchy ads, via Deutsch, Los Angeles, as demonstrated by the popular “Darth Vader”   Super Bowl spot for the upcoming Passat. But the brand’s advertising needs more discipline.

As for Subaru, we fret about the fate of the “Love” theme ads, which have been in place since Mahoney returned there from Porsche. At Subaru’s press conference at the New York Auto show, “Confidence in Motion” was on the big screen in big letters as journalists waited for it to start.

Ikuo Mori, president-CEO of Subaru’s Japanese parent Fuji Heavy Industries, announced during the press conference that “Confidence in Motion” was Subaru’s brand statement. We sincerely hope the line doesn’t replace “Love,” since it certainly doesn’t carry the same emotional message.

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World’s Best Car Ads

It’s official!

The non-profit group, The One Club named the global winners January 13, 2015 during a special even during the press days of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. There were submissions  from 16 countries, but only two winning USA advertisers and ad agencies: Audi of America and its shop Venables Bell & Partners in San Francisco, along with Hyundai Motor America and Innocean USA in Huntington Beach, Calif.

Audi and Hyundai won the Broadcast TV category in a 3-way tie with Toyota Australia.

Audi’s winning TV spot for the all-new Q3, dubbed “The Scripted Life,” encourages people to “break from the script” of mundane, everyday  life.

The commercial wasn’t widely watched on YouTube, generating a mere 20,000 views from the time it was posted in late August to mid-January. In my book, it’s just an okay commercial.

Hyundai’s award winner was from the 2014 Super Bowl commercial. The spot for the Genesis touts the car’s sensory surround safety. Dubbed “Dad’s Sixth Sense,” the spot shows how the automatic emergency braking works to help a teen son at the wheel with his father riding shotgun avoiding a crash with another car as he checks out a young lady on the sidewalk.

My absolute favorite of the winning broadcast trio is Toyota Australia’s “Unbreakable Drivers,” for the Toyota Hilux pickup from Saatchi & Saatchi in Sydney. The humor is pure Aussie fun and can’t help but make you smile.

The spot, featuring narration by Down Under actor Russel Crowe, attracted a respectable nearly 590,000 views in just over 3 months.

Volvo Trucks won the Online Video category. Ad agency Forsman & Bodenfors in Gothenburg, Sweden, created this dramatic “Epic Split” video to demonstrate the precision and directional stability of Volvo Dynamic Steering. Actor Jean-Claude Van Damme is absolutely amazing doing a split as the two Volvo Trucks back up

Even more amazing: Forsman & Bodenfors and director Andreas Nilsson shot the 1:16 video in one take (in Spain on a closed landing field at sunrise). The haunting music is Enya’s “Only Time.”

But the real eye popper is that this video attracted more than 77 million views on YouTube since it was posted just two months ago!

Honda took home the Interactive award with a 2:55 video from Wieden + Kennedy, London, for the Civic Type R.

Dubbed “The Other Side,” W+K produced two parallel tales of the same man, a caring dad by day picking up his daughters in his white Civic and by night an undercover cop delivering a crew of art thieves to a police sting driving a red, sportier Type R.

The viewer is in control, merely having to press the “R” key to toggle between actor Jean-Phillipe Ricci’s two lives.

The original video on YouTube hit 4 million views in less than 3 months and was boosted by the web site along with social media. Daniel Wolfe directed, with Bobby Krlic of The Haxan Cloak handling the music.

Volkswagen was awarded top honors in Experiential Advertising for an in-theater, car safety push from Ogilvy One Beijing in China. Movie goers may have thought they were watching a pre-film car commercial of someone driving along a road, but got a shock when their mobile phones sounded

VW says the effort to curb mobile use while driving attracted a lot of media coverage, was the top auto viral video and generated more than 26 million views in a month.

It’s not the first time VW has used a jarring shock to get the safety message out. Back in 2006, VW of America ran a commercial that showed a Jetta with two young couples coming home from a double date at the movies getting suddenly rammed by another driver. No one was hurt, but the spot from Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami was both praised and panned.

Jeep won the Print/Outdoor award for work by Leo Burnett France in Paris. The “Upside Down” poster campaign. In a unique move, the ads do NOT show a Jeep. Instead, each poster shows a different animal. But when the image is flipped 180 degrees there is a different animal. “See whatever you want to see” is the ad tag.








 Kudos to all the the winners of the 2nd Annual One Show Automobile Advertising of the Year Awards!

MAKING TRACKS: Satish Korde moves up to Chief Operating Officer at WPP Group’s Global Team Ford in Dearborn, Michigan from CEO of sibling Team Detroit, a post he’s held since the summer of 2011.

SatishKordeBefore his 2011 appointment, the low-profile Korde had been global client director for Team Detroit’s parent company, WPP.

Korde succeeds Mark LaNeve, 55, who will move Feb. 1 to his client, Ford Motor Co., as head of U.S. sales, marketing and service.


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.


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.

You can follow me, Jean Halliday, on LinkedIn and Facebook

On Twitter: @jhal2001


The Best Global Auto Ads

Drum roll, please.

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

People’s Choice

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

Bravo to all the winners!

Last year was the first year The One Club honored top car advertising during the press days of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. In 2012, the group presented awards to the top 10 ads from the prior 25 years.
MAKING TRACKS: Congrats to Paul Edwards,  promoted at General Motors to VP of Chevrolet marketing in the US. Edwards, 44, had been executive director of GM’s global marketing since 2010. He joined GM in 1992 and succeeds Chris Perry, who resigned.
MAKING TRACKS II: Mike Jackson, has been named to the new role of president of Phelps, an independent, integrated marketing firm in Los Angeles. Among the stints during Jackson’s 30-year career in the ad business, was VP-marketing and advertising for GM in North America.
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And on Twitter @jhal2001

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 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.


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

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

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

My guess is no.

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

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

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

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

(This first ran as

W+K “Hands” Honda a Hit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kudos to the crew at W+K in London!

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

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

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

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on Twitter @jhal2001




Ford Mimics Movie Ads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can see all the spots here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check it out and you’ll see what I mean

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 “ web site. If you’re sharp enough to notice, the same “Amazing in Motion” words accompanied by the smaller “Created by Lexus” “appear on screen for the first two seconds of the longer video on You Tube.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How did this brand veer so far off course?

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

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

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

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

Now THAT was powerful.

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

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

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

Here it is if you haven’t seen it

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

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

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

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

That pretty much says it all.

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

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

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