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Marty’s Marketing Minutia

Advisory, art, attendance, ads, apps...

by on Jan.15, 2010

Committee being formed: Auto Anti Defamation League

Though not as damaging as the auto execs appearance, “the four bankers of the apocalypse” (as they were called by the NYT) appearance before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, were publically castigated, criticized and condemned.

These leaders of the America’s “too big to fail” bankers, AKA arrogant schemers, defrauders and culpable, seemingly dazzled the commission with verbal flights of banking techno-speak and monetary gibberish.  It was a cluster you know what.


In an apparent need to demean the four and thus the banking industry, the former California state treasurer Phil Angelides, who is chairman of the inquiry Commission, compared Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s chief executive, Lloyd C. Blankfein, to a “used-car salesman who would sell a car with faulty brakes, then buy insurance on the driver.”

That is it. Enough is enough! Time for the AADL — Auto Anti Defamation League.

Bankers from the “too big to fail” group are contemptible, but to say used car salesmen are worse is to paint these valiant sales professionals with the same disparaging brush. Compared to the bankers, or posturing Congressional Committee members, they are above reproach.

Is this just another bureaucratic/governmental crack about the auto industry? If it is, time for a change, isn’t it?

Art from autos, autos as art

Drive, a new exhibit of three artists with automotive themes, open Saturday, January 16th at Daniel Klein Gallery in Birmingham, Michigan.

A mix of photography and paintings, the new show features work by:

  • Tim Buwalda whose paintings make new shapes from crashed automobiles
  • Cheryl Kelly’s paintings on aluminum are of muscle and classic cars
  • Liz Cohen’s photographs establish transformation as the theme (see jump for photo)

Ford’s consumer display

Last year Ford took a bold step and invested a not insignificant sum with Imagination, a long time Ford agency based in London, UK for creating a unique, educational and entertaining venue for its environmental display at the Detroit Auto Show. Click here to see a video of last year’s exhibit space.  (more…)

Marty’s Marketing Minutia

Return, rewards, recognition, replay, retro and ring tones

by on Nov.06, 2009

Bring back Phil! Bring Back Phil! Bring Back Phil! Please!

Needed madman?

Needed mad man?

It’s been nine years since Philip Guarascio retired as vice president of corporate advertising and marketing of General Motors and, in my opinion, that void has never been filled.

Phil was and is an advertising pro with Hall of Fame credentials, innovative programs and significant accomplishments earned during his tenure at the helm of GM’s advertising. Following his retirement, he’s only added to his resume of accomplishments.

Guarascio did more to shake-up the automotive agency-client relationship than any other individual when he arrived in Detroit from Benton and Bowles in 1985 by slashing commission rates, instituted negotiating media rates, then unheard of, and, most importantly making the GM advertising function more scientific and accountable. Then he retired and professionalism seemed to go out the door with him.

Glory-hungry Motors needs a professional marketer-mad man – like Phil or an equal, if there is one — to create a clearly focused and driven marketing environment that fosters creative excellence in all communications, no matter the medium.

I do recall another executive of a certain age, Phil’s now 67 or 68, about ten years ago who was recalled to develop better products for GM. Doesn’t advertising deserve equal treatment? Now is the time to at least pursue the return of Phil – he has the knowledge, experience and ability to get it right the first time. He’s probably very happy away from Detroit, but given the right incentives, who knows?

AmEx Deal for the Detroit Auto Show

My monthly bill contained a folder detailing several experiences only available to card holders including a special on the NAIAS. For only $300 per person or 37,500 Membership Reward points, American Express will provide, “VIP access to the 2010 Auto Show, including an EcoDrive Experience at the wheel of the latest “green” vehicles.


Marty’s Marketing Minutia

Controversy, Clunkers, Commercials

by on Aug.07, 2009

Toyota News Release Shakes Advertising World

Toyota Motor Sales USA's top gaijin, Jim Lentz, revealing the A-BAT concept car.

Toyota Motor Sales USA's top gaijin, Jim Lentz, revealing the A-BAT concept car.

It seemed innocuous enough, the headline “TMC to Establish Two Marketing Companies” did not seem to portend eminent disaster or predict doom when the release was downloaded and casually reviewed late Wednesday morning. It was simple and straight forward.

The context of the release was: Toyota was changing its marketing organization with two new companies financed with over ¥200 million and staffed with 240+ employees.

But upon more careful reading it might be considered ominous and one thought resonated through the ad world: “OMG they’re going to replace their advertising agencies.”

Almost immediately emails, phone calls – some international, and Skype video links from friends and colleagues crisscrossed each other, all began with similar questions, “Do you know anything about what’s going on with Toyota’s marketing and advertising?” and/or “Have you sources at Toyota or the agency and what did they say?” My answers in order were, “No, yes and nothing.”

Yet, even as I moved to change the responses to “Yes-maybe, yes and lots” news flashes from Advertising Age, Automotive News and several advertising industry web sites, chat rooms and bloggers were arriving on the web in torrents.

Several jumped to the conclusion that Saatchi, Toyota’s major agency and part of the Publicis Groupe (and the agency’s second biggest account with $800 million plus after P&G) was going to lose the business. Ad Age was more circumspect and less concerned quoting Toyota representatives who conceded the news release “Is causing a great deal of confusion.”

So here’s the bottom line based on information I have received from company sources and those very close to the announcement and the following, a translation originally composed in Japanese, of an internal clarification memorandum:

“The main purpose of the two marketing companies is enhancing marketing efforts in Japan; not keeping Toyota’s advertising efforts in-house. Even in line with the purpose, Toyota does not assume cutting the existing business ties with ad agencies.”


Marty’s Marketing Minutia

Review, results and rewards...

by on Jul.24, 2009

How about ad agency reviews for all GM’s brands?

2010 Chevrolet Camaro Transformers Special Edition

Most of the creative from all these shops is beyond bland and boring, it's simply bad advertising.

Nothing can cause serious pain, head-aches, anxiety attacks, depression or melancholia than news the ad agency you work for on the such-and-such brand is going into review. But it’s never been a problem in Detroit with GM’s shops. 

Well, Phil Gurascio did shake things up when he ordered cuts in the 15% commission GM was paying its agencies, a drop to 9%, when he first joined GM and then hired a couple creative boutiques, but that was long ago.

Until recently GM’s agencies were literally revered, recognized and respected as brand partners. Reviews? Hah! Sacrosanct maybe, but reviewed … never!  Who would know what to do and when?

Both agencies and the big budget GM brands took great pride in noting, protecting and honoring decade’s long relationships, some going back to the 1920′s.

No Agency Review Required!

No Agency Review Required!

Yet, the financial debris which resulted from the approval of the GM’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Federal Court that summarily dismissed, disregarded, ignored, forgot and overlooked untold billions of debt  obligations to bondholders, stockholders, retirees and suppliers … everyone except GM’s advertising agencies, which were needed by the new company.

GM’s agencies got a “go past home” free pass. They got paid most, if not all of the monies owed to them and kept the business too.  Chevy is still a Campbell-Ewald where it’s been since the 1920′s. Pontiac is still with Leo Burnett, which in previous iterations was MJ&A, DMB&B and Chemistri and at one time handled Cadillac, Pontiac, Mr. Goodwrench and GM corporate accounts. McCann retains Buick, well sort of.

Most of the creative from all these shops is beyond bland and boring, it’s simply bad advertising. Getting it sold to the client is not and never will be the measure of good advertising Yeah, I know an agency is only as good as the client lets it be. But after so many years who is and was the responsible custodian of the old brand? The agency that’s who. They don’t get a pass from me on this.


Marty’s Marketing Minutia

General Motors, Hyundai, and those non-boring Boxes...

by on Jul.17, 2009

Bob Lutz’s gigantic job: Unasked for advice for GM’s new advertising arbiter

Whether in or out of bankruptcy, says "car czar" Bob Lutz, the automaker is about to face a "cleansing fire."

The problems of BMW were not the same as GM's are today, but Lutz is the ultimate publicity machine.

The news of Bob Lutz’s new job responsibilities was, to use that overused and becoming increasingly trite word — awesome.  The shock waves, tremors and angst registered on the advertising Richter scale coast-to-coast within minutes after the announcement.  

One could almost see the swarms of e-mails and hordes of phone calls, like helicopters, from every GM advertising agency, media buying service, research firms, agency suppliers, search firm specialists, as well as consultants, creative’s and suit’s circling the GM building hoping, praying, wishing for an opportunity to get face or phone time to plead their case and experience to Bob Lutz.

This as most know, is not a new calling for the septuagenarian auto exec. He’s done this before for BMW. Dave Kiley, in his book Driven described how Lutz choose a new and relative unknown agency, Ammanti and Purvis over agency behemoths’ Ted Bates Agency and Benton & Bowles.  The result was perhaps the best corporate tag line ever in the car business, The Ultimate Driving Machine, and advertising that helped drive BMW’s business up and up.

But the problems of BMW then were not the same as GM’s are today.  I’ve gotten some favorable and a few nasty e-mails and calls about my recent reviews of GM’s corporate advertising and for that awful La Crosse ad.  Based on Lutz’s comments this week, he feels exactly the same but was more restrained in his comments.

It is more than audacious and presumptuous to offer counsel to a man like Lutz, but there are many advertising people, inside and outside the auto industry, who are hoping he succeeds in stopping the ill conceived, misdirected, idiotic image, GM’s and the remaining brand’s advertising has taken in recent years. It’s been horrible!

These ads, no matter the medium, have lacked consistency, credibility or creativity. They have not sold cars, and they certainly have been ignored or laughed at and justifiably so.

Start a New Campaign!

Start a New Campaign!

There has been a strict reliance on group-think, group-reviews, group-CYA-decisions based on using extensive consumer research to justify crap!  Both at GM and their agencies.  Hundreds of millions, maybe billions of dollars thrown down a deep dark abyss of gratuitous waste.

My take is simplistic.  Don’t allow, please don’t permit the GM corporate culture sycophants, corp-speak-artists, untalented and arrogant individuals to be involved any longer. They are the ones who effed it up in the first place.  And the way you start is the way you finish.


Marty’s Marketing Minutia

by on Jun.25, 2009

Our Federal Automobile Websites

Illegal sites are up and running in an attempt to con and deceive gullible consumers about the Cash for Clunkers program, now known officially as the Car Allowance Rebate System — CARS, isn’t that cute? NHTSA has set up an official web site to provide information about the program.  The agency also has a hotline at 888-327-4236. Consumers can visit that Web site or call the hot-line number to get official information about the program.

For MPG data, the government’s fuel economy website  is a very good. There are charts to show fuel consumption for hundreds of makes and models going back to 1985. Other interesting information includes links to many non-government auto websites.

Jaguar’s 30 Day Countdown to a New Car

Jaguar XJ

The showroom window "tease strategy" isn't used anymore, but Jaguar has adapted it for the web.

There was a time when new car dealers would white-out their showroom windows with just few peep-holes to look through to see their newest car. Slowly the viewing area got bigger so more of the car was seen. When I was a kid, one of the high spots of the year was going downtown to take a peak-look at the new cars on a dealer’s showroom floors. 

That “tease strategy” isn’t used anymore, but Jaguar has adapted it for today’s digital, Internet world of commerce and information with a 30 day teaser series of videos using Jag execs emailed to those who have registered at the site.  Jag’s teaser began with an ad and p.r. campaign directing the reader to a special website where videos are running until July 3 on features of the new XJ. Print ads will run till the international reveal on July 9th in London.