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Marty’s Marketing Minutia – Honda-Acura Edition

The ad agency games are on!

by on Dec.07, 2012

Is Honda getting the best possible creative work? That's what the review is intended to find out.

For decades – yes, decades – automobile clients were the backbone of many advertising agencies. Chevrolet was with Campbell-Ewald since the 1940’s. Gone under the brief but dramatic reign of global marketing czar Joel Ewanick. Cadillac was the cornerstone of McManus John and Adams (and various iterations) since the 1900’s as were its siblings Pontiac and GM Corporate. Gone like that, also by JE. Volkswagen began the trend of contemporary advertising with some legendary Beetle ads. But eventually, Doyle Dane Bernbach lost that business, too.

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In recent times BMW has changed agencies, as have Volvo, Porsche, Chrysler, Dodge, Buick, GMC, Mazda, Jaguar, Hyundai, Land Rover, Mini, VW, Saab, Fiat and a couple I can’t recall.  Billions of dollars in expenditures and income gone. It is a very tough and competitive business — and as we’ve just discovered, the Honda/Acura account could soon join that list.

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The Soft Sell: Auto Advertising Turns 113

Those 19th Century Mad Men marketed the Winton. Has much really changed?

by on Sep.16, 2011

The first automotive ad, for a Winton, appeared on July 30, 1898 in Scientific American. Who knew what would follow once the Mad Men got into the game.

Hoist a very dry Martini before dinner Saturday to honor and toast the 19th Century Mad Men who convinced the Winton Motor Carriage Co. of Cleveland, Ohio to run the first automobile ad advertisement in Scientific American magazine, July 30, 1898.  Consider it an homage to those who led the way for us who make or have made our careers in auto advertising.

This is the ad that appeared.

No, the layout is not up to contemporary standards, the illustration is only so-so, but carefully read the headline and the body copy. Now think of this ad in terms of today’s advertising for electric vehicles. There’s an almost eerie visionary prophetic sameness with the major selling points, isn’t there?

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And the price, $1,000. Based on the Inflation Calculator using Consumer Price Index data, today the Winton would cost $25,853.94 — a number not that far off from Nissan’s Leaf or GM’s Volt, at least after rolling in today’s federal tax credits. (There wasn’t an income tax back then, of course.) Conversely, $1,000 today would only get you $39.30 in 1898.

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Marty’s Marketing Minutia

Is life imitating art in Lincoln's new commercials?

by on Oct.11, 2010

Isn't that...? Mad Men's John Slattery stars in a new Lincoln ad series.

Once upon a time the Lincoln division of Ford Motor Company was viewed as the American automotive pinnacle of luxurious sophistication, success and status. These were the halcyon days of great looking, really big vehicles like the Mark series. Then the brand became afflicted with inertia, malaise and lethargy resulting in so-so designs, uh-oh quality and “duh” advertising.  Consumers stayed away in droves.

Arguably, among consumers, the best known Lincoln model is the Town Car. This sedan, which has its origins in the automotive equivalent of the Paleozoic era, has retained some cache and panache as the ubiquitous “Black Car” service vehicle in NY, Chicago and LA. But that too is on the endangered species list.

But suddenly Lincoln is making headline news … as a reorganization, restructuring and revitalization program was announced that has a significant impact on the brand’s future. Leading the way to a hoped-for resurgence are two new vehicles, the MKX and MKZ.  Both nice looking models are loaded with sophisticated, state-of-the-art, innovative, incredible technology to inform, entertain and protect the driver and passengers while seated in a luxury setting.  This is a good creative platform. But to promote these new models to the American consumer they’ve borrowed equity to present the cars which I feel is feature not benefit-driven.

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They’ve cast a journeyman actor, John Slattery of the AMC network’s hit series, Mad Men – which is based on an advertising agency in the ‘60s — to be the pitchman in three new television commercials.  The hope is that people watching television will see Slattery and instantly know who he is, the character he portrays on what show, and that this will result in an “OMG isn’t that…?” moment for Lincoln. That’s the borrowed equity. But it’s also a big stretch that could turn into just more “duh” advertising.

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