Tag Archives: advertising

Cadillac’s “Don’t You Dare” Ad Blitz Breaks On Oscars

Cadillac  breaks a lofty, new ad blitz during the Academy Award broadcast Feb. 29 that it dubs an evolution of its year-old “Dare Greatly” campaign.

This time around, the ads are themed “Don’t You Dare” and showcase 8  innovators. Cadillac Global CMO Uwe Ellinghaus said the blitz “is the physical embodiment of ‘Dare Greatly,’ encouraging consumers to take action and never accept the status quo.”

The “Brand” spot and similar “Stories” commercial, each a minute long, mostly show the young people, with brief descriptions of their impressive accomplishments. The aim is to show viewers these people would not have succeeded had they not dared question conventional wisdom. “I want people to go online to find out who these people are,” Ellinghaus says.

But Oscar night TV viewers may wonder what those two commercials are advertising, since a Cadillac vehicle only appears for a few seconds at the end of  each spot. I’m  not sure those ads are compelling enough to keep viewers’ attention until the punchline.

The people spotlighted in the ads range in age from 15 to 25 – certainly not in the mainstream age group of Cadillac buyers today. The average age of buyers in 2015 was 57, says a Caddy spokesman. That dropped from the upper 6os in 2006 and the low 70s from 2001, according to Edmunds.com. That’s notable progress, folks.

Cadillac is  trying to build its brand image now to appeal to these younger buyers down the road. Also, as per marketing logic, you can target older buyers by showing younger folks in ads, but not vice versa. There are also car marketing experts who don’t like to see people in ads because they believe it can limit broad appeal across age groups and sexes.

Janusz Kaminski shot the work, his first automotive ads. The Polish-born filmer has been nominated 5 times for Best Cinematography Academy Awards, winning twice for “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan.” He also handled last year’s “Bridge Of Spies.”

For the Oscar broadcast, Cadillac has 5.5 minutes of ad time, including 4 minutes during the show and 1.5 minutes in the pre-show. There’s a total of 6 different commercials, although the advertiser only showed 4 of them to reporters ahead of time. All the ads direct viewers to the DAREGREATLY.com web site, established a year ago.

Publicis in New York, is Cadillac’s ad agency and these ads will also air in China, the first time the same ads have run in Cadillac’s two biggest markets.

The two other :60 spots I previewed were product specific: one for the new XT5 suv ; the other for the CT6 sedan, my personal favorite of the bunch.

This is truly a break-through (pardon the pun*) commercial that grabs your attention with its visual beauty and sleek shots of the CT6. The reverse-motion photography matches the narration “Only those who dare drive the world forward.”

Since his arrival at Cadillac in January 2014 from luxury pen maker Montblanc, the German-born Ellinghaus has preached that car ads merely showing beautiful vehicles aren’t enough these days. He said he’s working to make General Motors’ luxury brand relevant to customers and to stand for something that draws passionate, sophisticated and optimistic buyers.

Ellinghaus, who also had a stint at Germany’s BMW Group in marketing from 1998 to 2012, admits Cadillac faces challenges from his former auto employer, along with Audi, Mercedes-Benz and the Japanese luxury nameplates. But he points to progress Cadillac made in 2015 , not just with rising global sales, but higher transaction prices, lower inventories and less incentive costs. Brand opinion metrics also rose last year for Cadillac , he says.

I doubt this campaign will set the world on fire for Cadillac. This has to be a long term effort, which hasn’t always been the case in the automotive world, including Cadillac. But at least, for now, Cadillac has put a stake in the ground and is sticking to its guns from a year ago.

*”Break Through” was Cadillac’s ad theme from January 2002 until fall 2006 that used the song “Rock and Roll” by Led Zeppelin.

Follow me, Jean Halliday, on Facebook, Linked In and on Twitter at 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 moviefone.com, called the Summer Spectacular Movie Ticket Giveaway plus $3 off movie rentals on Amazon.com.

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 fordeventgiveaway.com 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

Chevy’s Multi-Media Super Bowl Blitz

Chevrolet is significantly turning up the heat on its Super Bowl media buys this year. In addition to three in-game TV commercials, two pre-game and two post-game, General Motors’ volume brand pushed into online and mobile in a big way, including social media plays, a mobile app car-giveaway promotion, an MTV music video and several online sponsorships.

“There’s 11 automakers advertising in the Super Bowl, so we had to figure out how we can make people laugh and make sure it’s enteraining enough to get out information from us- not just during the Super Bowl, but what do we do before, during and after,” Chevy’s Chris Perry VP-global marketing and strategy said today at a press conference at GM’s Detroit headquarters.

Believe me, you’re not going to be able to miss Chevrolet before, during or after the game. This is a smart play by Chevy, which needs to change brand perceptions and improve buyer consideration.

Chevy got the ball rolling Jan. 22 with this national commercial during the NFL NFC Championship game introducing the Chevy Game Time mobil app. Entrants can win one of 20 Chevrolet vehicles and other prizes from Chevy, Bridgestone, Motorola, Papa John’s Pizza, apparel from the NFLShop.com and Sirius XM Radio.

Perry said Chevy got more than 100,000 downloads of the app within the first 36 hours and now stands at over 130,000.

The brand has several Super Bowl sponsorships this year. Chevrolet is the only advertiser for Twitter’s official Super Bowl area, which is already live. Chevy is the exclusive auto sponsor on NBC’s live online streaming of the Big Game and gets ad time during every 30-minute break. Post-Game, it has auto exclusivity as the co-sponsor with USA Today of its AdMeter on Facebook that will let consumers vote on their favorite Super Bowl ads seen on Hulu and YouTube. Also post-game, the marketer is giving away a Chevy Corvette to the Most Valuable Player, as it did last year.

Starting February 2, look for short, online snippets on video sites like Hulu and YouTube starring actor Rainn Wilson of “The Office,” taunting viewers to watch Chevrolet’s Super Bowl ads on its YouTube channel. Chevy’s Group Advertising Manager Rick Martinek, who shepherded the brand’s entire Big Game effort over the past four months, said Wilson appears in 15 short promos ranging from 5 seconds to 15. Here’s one

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty – the actual television spots. Perry said he hasn’t decided which ones will air and several of the ones he showed today to reporters were still rough cuts. Chevy won’t upload the commercials until next week.

One that will be seen on Game Day for sure is a minute-long commercial that broke recently called “Happy Grad” for the Camaro Convertible and is from New York independent filmmakerZack Borst , 26, who entered Chevy’s Route 66 promotion last year

 Chevy’s USA creative agency of record Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, did most of the other commercials for the Super Bowl. The Sonic is getting its first television advertising since its online-only launch last September. Goodby’s one-minute Sonic spot, called “Stunt Anthem,” shows a compilation of all of the wild non-televised exploits for the Sonic, including this so called Kickflip

The commercial directs viewers to Sonic’s LetsDoThis.com site. The music in this spot is “We are Young,” from the group Fun, which since Chevy tapped them for this project has seen this song rising on MTV’s charts to numero uno last week and was featured on the popular Glee TV show.

Arriving Super Bowl weekend will be a new MTV video featuring the Chevy Sonic and the popular band OK Go, a decent way to get the car before its millennial target.

Curiously, McCann-Erickson’s Detroit-area office created one of Chevy’s Super Bowl spots. The :30 commercial, for the Sonic, dubbed “Joy,” shows how much fun computer-generated bugs have riding on the car’s front grill.

It’s a real gem that I predict will do well in the polls.

But back to Goodby, which also developed two versions of a :30 spot for the Volt called “Aliens,” in which five little green men are checking out the car’s technology at night in the garage of a frustrated owner wearing his bathrobe.

In the first version he moans “Come on guys, this is the third time this week.” And the aliens get a bit weird when his wife shows up.

The wife is absent in the second version. Instead the Volt owner gets miffed when he realizes the visitors have told other aliens about the car.

Tim Allen provides narration at the end of both : “From the coolest car on the block to the smartest technology in the galaxy.”

On Saturday morning at about 10:30 am EST, Chevrolet started a poll on social media asking fans to vote for their favorite of the two spots.  Chevy didn’t give voters  much time. The polls closed at 11:59 PM today. The spot with the most votes will be air Super Bowl Sunday.

Chevy has posted its :60 commercial for the Silverado pickup from Goodby.

Take a look

Love the Twinkees’ gag

Hundreds of Chevy dealers are also carrying the look and feel of the national Super Bowl blitz, with the help of Promoboxx in Boston.

Perry He predicted the whole multi-media shebang will generate 1.5-billion…yup BILLION….impressions with consumers from Jan. 22 through the week after the game. “That’s probably conservative,” Perry added.

Overall it appears Chevy will make a much better showing as a Super Bowl advertiser this year than in 2011.

And that’s good news for Chevrolet….and GM.

 MAKING TRACKS: Chuck Hipsher just started this week as creative director of FKM Advertising in Houston. Hipsher worked on Chevy trucks for almost three years as senior VP-creative director at Campbell-Ewald in Warren, Michigan until 2008.

The SUV is back????

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


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

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

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

Ram Ropes Cowboy Theme: “Guts. Glory.”

Chrysler Group’s Ram truck brand (formerly part of Dodge) is using cowboys and the Old West for its new multi-media ad campaign. The work, from Richards Group in Dallas, introduces the new tag “Guts. Glory. Ram.” It replaces “I am Ram.”
The first :60 national intro commercial, dubbed “Code of the West,” sets the stage for the blitz

Too bad the pickup doesn’t show up until more than half-way into the commercial.
Cowbows aren’t a new Big Idea for truck advertising. It’s almost a bad cliché.
Chevrolet was big on it. Here’s one from Campbell-Ewald for the 1997 model Silverado

Even GM sibling Pontiac used cowboys – for the Montana minivan – in the late ’90s to try to be more appealing to men. D’Arcy, Masius, Benton & Bowles’ Detroit-area handled and used Robert Mitchum to narrate:

In probably the most bizarre use of cowboys to peddle a light truck, Mitsubishi had this spot for the 1998 Montero suv from G2, Santa Monica, which soon after, not surprisingly, lost the account

Who doesn’t love cowboys and the romance of the Old West? It’s rugged and oh, so American. And what’s not to like about actor Sam Elliott’s rich voice narrating the Ram commercials?

Olivier Francois, Chrysler Group’s French-born CMO, has a penchant for edgy work that generates buzz, a la Chrysler brand’s 200 Super Bowl “Imported From Detroit” commercial with Eminem. The official word from Francois on the new pickup work is : “the Ram Truck brand has always had the guts to perform and innovate – today, it continues to live by those rules and conducts. The brand’s outstanding craftsmanship and beliefs are delivered in this campaign by using the rustic Old West as the perfect juxtaposition of past and present American values; a time when hard working and well-crafted man-made machines were a must.”
That American craftsmanship idea, and the tone of the Ram ads, also run deep in the automaker’s Jeep advertising “The Things We Make, Make Us,” introduced a year ago for launch of the new Grand Cherokee by Wieden + Kennedy in Portland.
Ram does take the cowboy thing to a new level. This work is generally visually arresting and interesting. That said, the big question is can this cowboy theme be sustained for Ram? Will it last as long as “Like a Rock” for Chevrolet?
I think not.


has gone to California and joined Activision as exec VP and CMO from Volkswagen, where he had been VP of marketing since December 2007. We wondered here earlier this spring about his future at VW after Tim Mahoney split from Subaru of America to be VW’s CMO and chief product officer. Ellis was to report to Mahoney.

Follow  me on Twitter: @jhal2001

Buick Ties with March Madness and Non-Profits to Crystallize its New Positioning of Luxury

The “new” General Motors has gotten around to Buick advertising – finally – and is hoping Americans, starting tonight, get a clearer impression of the brand’s positioning as approachable luxury. And Buick will lean heavily on March Madness, the annual tournament that stirs up ten of millions of college basketball fans. Buick’s sibling, Pontiac, had been a long-time March Madness partner, but Pontiac is gone now.
Buick is a leading auto sponsor of the NCAA’s March Madness tourney. The first  TV commercial with Buick’s new positioning breaks during tonight’s broadcast, also available on truTV.com. Publicis Groupe’s Leo Burnett in Troy, Michigan, is national creative agency of record for Buick and handled. Actor Kevin Bacon is the new narrator for the brand’s ads. There’s no tag line; Buick says it doesn’t need one. Having no tag is probably a good thing considering all the silly ones it used starting in 2001. Remember “It’s All Good?” Probably not.
Yes, it’s certainly time for Buick to start tooting its own horn and making some relevant noise after dallying around most of the past decade with branded-engineered models and a revolving door of ad campaigns and ad tags. Buick’s newer, sleeker-looking models in recent years are a huge leap for the brand and attracting tons of positive ink from auto enthusiast mags. Problem is not enough people know .
Ads in recent months haven’t been very impressive, but GM had been busy developing new messaging for its volume Chevrolet brand and longtime lux brand, Cadillac. GM’s fourth vehicle brand, GMC, is in the best shape in terms of knowing what the brand stands for and able to communicate that message.
As part of Buick’s “approachable luxury” positioning, it has joined a corporate partnership with the NCAA, Turner Sports and CBS Sports to focus on the accomplishments of former student athletes who are now giving back to society and their communities. The auto brand and the NCAA will tell inspirational stories of these athletes in a new series dubbed the Buick Human Highlight Reel. Several :90 video stories of individual former athletes went live last night on ncaa.com/buick, where visitors are asked to submit other former NCAA athletes making a difference.


Turner is the producer, although some online stories are from Buick’s digital agency Digitas. Online user-generated ad community Zooppa will also contribute to the 50-to-60 stories Buick expects to eventually have on the site, the brand’s ad director, Craig Bierley, told me.
Buick is also the exclusive title sponsor of a 30-minute TV show of select Human Highlight Reel stories that will air prior to the televised Final Four semi-final games April 2. The year-long initiative will extend into other NCAA sports, including football this fall, as well as the lacrosse championship and women’s soccer.
Buick is teaming with the the non-profit Samaritan’s Feet, founded by former U of North Dakota basketball player Emmanuel Ohonme, who attended today’s press conference at a downtown Detroit YMCA. Ohonme said Wisconsin missionaries gave him his first pair of shoes when he was 9 years old in his native Nigeria, which helped him dream of bigger and better things that eventually led him to this country. The NCAA has been a supporter of his non-profit and already helped donate shoes to more than 3 million youngsters in 40 countries. He is one of the featured video stories on the NCAA’s Human Highlight microsite with Buick.
Buick started giving away the first of 150 pairs of shoes and socks to needy Detroit kids today at the Y after the press conference.

Ohonme and GM's Chris Perry (foreground) Give Detroit Kids New Shoes

During the long Final Four weekend in Houston, Buick, the NCAA and National Association of Basketball Coaches have partnered to donate 2,011 pairs of shoes and socks during the long Final Four weekend in Houston.
The GM brand will make a major splash in social media for the Human Highlight Reel with NCAA-sponsored apps on Facebook, Foursquare YouTube and Twitter.
Buick’s-NCAA Facebook app will let college round-ball fans post their team via a “March Madness badge” on their profile. The app will keep track of each team’s fan base.
Buick expects to generate a billion consumer impressions over the three weeks of the Final Four tourney, said Tony DiSalle, who became VP of the brand’s US marketing on Feb. 1.
Having two luxury car brands is going to be a tricky balancing act for GM, as it would for any automaker.
But DiSalle, Bierley and Chris Perry, VP of all GM’s marketing in this country, are all singing from the same song sheet when it comes to how the automaker plans to differentiate the two brands. They each told me that Buick owners have long been an inclusive bunch and like to be part of the community rather than above it. They’re referring to the good old ’50s, when Buicks were very popular purchases for doctors and lawyers. Still, the brand’s peak year was 1984, when Buick sold 941,611 cars in the U.S.
Meantime, the GM guys say Cadillac owners are more individualistic and more entrepreneurial.
Sounds good and probably looks even better on paper. Now let’s see how it plays out in real life.

Rating Mazda’s New Ads

Does Mazda “Zoom. Zoom” in new ads from its new ad agency?
Not so much.
WPP Group won the first-bundled North American creative and media review for Mazda last summer. Creative from the newly-formed and dedicated TeamMazda shop has been starting to show up on television.
The commercials start out stark, using cardboard shapes on white backgrounds to accentuate points about a Mazda. Big bold words also appear on the stark backgrounds.
One of the latest spots shows an elephant shaped out of corrugated cardboard and on little blue wheels responding poorly to headwinds. The ad points out that Mazda’s crossover design is much sleeker than many elephant-like suvs out there since it’s more aerodynamic.
Here’s an earlier commercial, called “Cookie Cutter,” for the Mazda3i Sport using the same cardboard & lettering techniques and featuring the music of Pretty Ricky

This work reminds me a bit of Ford’s F-150 pickup work, from WPP sibling TeamDetroit. Probably no surprise since Team Mazda hired away some key folks from TeamDetroit.
These Mazda spots don’t really give viewers a crystal-clear idea exactly what the brand stands for. They don’t really capture Mazda’s fun-to-drive, “Zoom. Zoom” soul. They leave you cold.

To make matters worse– some  Tier Three ads,  or  those of individual dealers, are simply awful. Check out this President’s Day Sale ad for Brown Mazda in Toledo, Ohio

Other carmakers have wrestled with their all-over-the-map Tier Three ads before, so hopefully Mazda can come up with a solution.

All of this makes you wonder why Mazda opted for a review last year and decided to drop its agency since 1997, Doner in Southfield, Michigan.
Oh right, at the time Mazda CMO Don Romano said the automaker wanted “to consolidate to get greater focus and efficiencies.” He also said he wanted “more focus on brand strategy so we can’t deviate so easily.”
Romano said WPP’s analytical capabilities will help Mazda quickly figure out whether its ad efforts are working and if not, they can be changed.
We hope TeamMazda has more up its creative sleeves.
Mazda products are STILL better than its advertising.
The brand deserves much better.

MAKING TRACKS:  Gunnar Wilmot, moves into the office of  CEO and Partner at  The Ad Store in Manhattan. Wilmot retired (young) more than a year ago after 25 years at IPG, where he headed Gotham, McCann Detroit, and had been global account director on General Motors’ account at McCann.

Find me on Twitter @jhal2001

Ewanick’s Latest Moves

General Motor’s advertising and marketing officials under new vp-marketing Joel Ewanick are probably more jittery this week.
Ewanick is bolstering the team he inherited when he arrived at GM in mid-May as vp-marketing with an outside hire- someone he knows from his gig as Hyundai. AND- a key brand ad director was moved out of that position.
Ewanick tapped Liz Boone for an undisclosed strategic planning job at GM from Innocean Worldwide Americas. She she was group account director on Hyundai’s passenger cars there since May 2009. Her last day at Hyundai’s in-house shop in Huntington Beach, Cal was Wednesday, June 30.
Also on June 30, Steve Rosenblum was pulled as director of advertising and promotions at Chevrolet after four months in the job. He’s apparently still at GM.
The move is surprising since Steve is one of the few folks at GM with actual ad agency experience plus he did such a bang-up job during his long tenure as ad director of GMC.
He arrived at GM in 1996 as a Cadillac brand manager from Grey Advertising in LA, where he was an account planner on Pan-American. Before that Steve toiled at Bayer Bess Vanderwarker, in Chicago, and Interpublic Group, New York.
Liz Boone has tons of auto ad agency experience. Before she joined Innocean, she worked on Mazda at Doner for two years as group account director. She also spent a couple of years at JWT as an account leader on Ford.
Is it a co-incidence Boone was a key member of the team at the now-defunct D’Arcy aka chemistri in Troy, Michigan (now Leo Burnett Detroit) that launched Cadillac’s first Escalade suv for GM and the “Break Through” blitz with Led Zeppelin for the brand?
Ewanick is moving Cadillac’s ad account (see last week’s blog).
His first order of business upon his arrival at GM was moving Chevy’s national creative account without a review to Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco from Publicis, which had won it before his arrival after a formal pitch.
Ewanick worked with Goodby & Co. when the agency had Porsche and he was general marketing manager at the sports car outfit, then later when Goodby had Hyundai.
There’s nothing sinister about a new CMO changing agencies or hiring new people- happens all the time.
Make no mistake, Ewanick is a change agent for GM.
Like other car companies GM rotates their rising stars through marketing – my BIGGEST beef about the car biz. So GM has its share of in-bred marketeers. Need evidence? Take a look at the advertising that’s come for the company’s 4 remaining vehicle brands in the past year. Shows that big change is needed – like YESTERDAY.
T he rest of the industry isn’t standing still and waiting for GM to get its act together. The company’s slicker, improved products deserve much better messaging.
We’re counting on Joel to lead the way.
More changes coming? Bet the farm on it.

GM’s $1.6 Billion Question

With Joel Ewanick, General Motors’ new VP-marketing, evaluating all four of the carmaker’s vehicle brand positions and messaging, this seems like a good time to also revisit media.
The “old” GM consolidated all of its media planning a decade ago at Publicis Groupe from its 17 different creative agencies to streamline things and to make better and faster decisions. The auto giant was then in a consolidating mood, breaking down the sales and marketing silos internally for its own vehicle divisions and relocating everyone in the Tubes’ world headquarters along the Detroit River.
In 2005, Publicis’ Starcom MediaVest Group won GM’s media buying account in a shootout against incumbent IPG. GM was then spending $3.5 billion annually on national and regional dealer group advertising. That fell to $2 billion in 2008 and $1.6 billion last year, says Nielsen.
The consolidated media move was supposed to insure that ads for different GM brands wouldn’t still show up in the same magazines or same TV shows. But that was still happening as recently as last fall when similar-looking “May the Best Car Win” spreads for two different GM brands showed up in the same issues of Newsweek and BusinessWeek. GM called it a “miscommunication in traffic instructions” at the time. But GM was just filling the ad holes Publicis bought.
Today the media set-up is broken for the leaner “new” General Motors Co., which will celebrate a year out of bankruptcy reorganization July 10. Starcom takes a shopping basket to buy media by the pound on the open market and then tries to parcel it out to the GM divisions. That system prevents GM from optimally reaching its target customers. The media agency will sometimes coerce a vehicle brand to expand a car’s target to find a home for already-purchased media inventory.
On a positive note, Starcom’s media buys for GM are very cost effective. But the buys don’t always align with the brand strategies.
No disrespect to Starcom, but planning should be returned to the creative agencies.
So, what do you think, Joel?
Time for a change?

Mercury’s Rear View Mirror

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

Mercury Arrives!

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

Here’s another one for Cougar from 1980

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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