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Marty’s Marketing Minutia: The Super Bowl of Excess

Automakers likely to spend $72 mil to pitch football - and ad - fans.

by on Jan.31, 2014

Volkswagen is just one of several automakers advertising during this year's Super Bowl at a cost of more than $72 million.

Two days from now in an example of profligate marketing, Audi, Chevrolet, Ford, Hyundai, Jaguar, Kia, Toyota, Volkswagen and others will expend an estimated $72,000,000 – yes, that’s seventy-two millions of dollars – to run their latest 30-second commercials on the Fox broadcast of the 48th Super Bowl. Which means the time is costing $130,000 per second.

Oh, and did we mention what Chrysler is likely to be investing if, as TheDetroitBureau.com has reported, they go ahead with another two-minute spot featuring the legendary Bob Dylan?

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Add to this bare bones (ha!) media buy the cost of creating and producing these mini-movies. We’re talking sets, crew costs above the line and below the line, talent fees, editing, post production, travel, craft services, drivers, misc. incidentals, guaranteed residuals, special music and computer generated graphics. Add that in and you’re talking chump change in the neighborhood of $750 thousand to $1 million for each commercial, or anywhere from $18 to $25 million overall. (more…)

Icons, Idiots — and Bob Lutz

An enjoyable, one-way conversation, says our book reviewer.

by on Jul.03, 2013

Bob Lutz describes some of the most memorable leaders he's works with in a 60-year career.

How many current or former auto executives have the experience, talent, charisma — much less the cojones — to write an entertaining, informative book about one’s bosses and inspirational leaders? There’s only one and, you’re right, it’s Bob Lutz.  Okay, so he’s an octogenarian – but he is not over the hill – far from it. He is sharper, clearer and more focused than some of today’s wannabe CEOs and COOs.

Lutz’s multi-decade experience covers the best of times and worst of times in the contemporary auto history from the sixties through GM’s 2009 bankruptcy.  Along the way he made history and rewrote some, made some good decisions, some not-so-good, had c-suite executive positions with major auto brands in Europe and America – and at every milestone along the way in an enviable career he’s worked for and been inspired by some very unique leaders and characters.

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Icons and Idiots, his just published review of the eleven leaders and inspirational forces that shaped and molded his business career and life is an interesting read. I’d turned the pages in his previous book, Auto Guys and Bean Counters, but found it less readable because of the ‘here’s what went wrong and why” focus. The new work from the ultimate car guy is analogous to having a private conversation with him after a good dinner, some excellent wine and maybe a Cohiba.

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Lincoln: Code Blue

Is there a doctor in the house? Enter Mark LaNeve.

by on Apr.11, 2013

Lincoln's marketing mishaps - and production delays -- have left the brand in even worse shape than skeptics had anticipated.

The reintroduction of the Lincoln Motor Company via the new MKZ model is now officially comatose. A code blue alert has brought in an auto marketing turnaround specialist, the 54-year-old Mark LeNeve, to assume command of Lincoln’s almost new “luxury-oriented boutique agency” and continue as COO of Team Detroit, the Ford brand’s ad agency.

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The former Academic All-American linebacker at the University of Virginia is faced with a helluva marketing mess. The factory quality issues contributing to this situation are not unique to the introduction of a new model but the marketing blunders, gaffes, mistakes and eff-ups are unprecedented.  Unless one has a memory long enough to reach back to the legendary Edsel debacle.

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Marty’s Marketing Minutia: Who the Hell is in Charge at GM?

Time to stop blaming Joel Ewanick.

by on Mar.15, 2013

GM would like to blame all its sales and marketing woes on former CMO Joel Ewanick - but maybe it needs to point elsewhere, says columnist Bernstein.

The advertising business is loaded with cliches but perhaps the most pertinent is, “An agency is only as good as the client lets it be!” Yet, when the ads aren’t working it never turns out to be the clients fault, it’s always the agency’s.  Ha! It is the client who establishes the marketing goals and objectives, often in a vacuum of reality, understanding and experience.

And then there’s the wonderful phrase, “We have a strong agency – client relationship!” Double-Ha! That’s the kiss of death. There is no such thing as a long lasting agency/client relationship. At best it is confrontational, more likely acrimonious and seldom harmonious.

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The ad agency news this week emanating from General Motors’ Renaissance Center headquarters makes the political mess in Washington seem almost trivial, doesn’t it? The rather nasty innuendos and evil repercussions are intended to put the blame on one person, Joel Ewanick, which is a crock. True, as global Chief Marketing Officer, Ewanick had plenipotentiary powers bestowed on him by the CEO and board of directors. But the marketing ship was already floundering with its sails and rudders gone and no captain. And it’s unclear anyone really wanted Ewanick to do what was necessary to make GM’s marketing operations ship-shape.

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Marty’s Marketing Minutia – Let the Game Begin

The Super Bowl Auto Ad Brawl Has Begun.

by on Jan.25, 2013

Mercedes offers a sexy sneak peek at the auto ad it plans for Super Bowl XLVII with Kate Upton.

The hype has begun. Super Bowl XLVII is still ten days away, but the mega-million-buck auto ad brawl is already underway as three of the eight deep pocket car advertisers pre-launch/pre-sell their new commercials to NFL fans!  The reason? Economics. And a numbers game.

At somewhere between $2.4 and $4.0 million per 30-second commercial this amounts to a helluva big expenditure for just one airing. But there’s an even bigger number, as over 115 million American viewers will watch the game February 3, some media mavens are predicting.

Until recently, advertising on the Super Bowl has been nothing more than putting up the game day spot and hoping, maybe, that it will trigger some Monday-morning quarterbacking around the water cooler — with polls and research adding some arguable, additional value. That was then.

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What’s become apparent is that a fairly large percentage of viewers are more interested in the commercials than the game itself. So, how to take advantage of that and extend the payback beyond just a game-day airing that is over in 30 seconds, whether a viewer was sitting in front of the TV or off grabbing something from the refrigerator?

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Marty’s Marketing Minutia – Auto Show Edition

Finding New Roads - and new customers.

by on Jan.11, 2013

Barbarians at the gate? The media hordes prepare for their annual assault on Detroit's Cobo Hall.

For years Cobo Hall, the venue for the North American International Automobile Show has been suspect. No matter how good the vehicles may be displayed with special lighting, the roof did leak, the rest rooms were awful, it was either too hot or too cold and exhibitors and media attendees alike were certain to come up with a vociferous array of complaints.

Result? A three-year, three-phase $270 million renovation and expansion is nearly complete, just in time for the show’s media preview days. There’s a new atrium overlooking the Windsor, Canada skyline and the Detroit River. The Wayne exhibit hall has had 25,000 square feet added and parking has been expanded by 500 spaces.

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Also good news is the relocation of the Michelin Media Center from the inconvenient third floor of  Cobo to Michigan Hall at river level. It’s located between the new three-story atrium, and the indoor Aisin Drive Green Experience test track. There will be more work spaces — 700 of ‘em –, hard line web connectivity, broadcast and photo centers and of course, a steady flow of coffee, refreshments and snacks.

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Marty’s Marketing Minutia – Special Triscadecaphobia Edition

by on Jan.04, 2013

The godfather of bad TV auto advertising, Cal Worthington, lives on.

We saw 2012 end with metaphoric skyrockets lighting the midnight sky for most auto marketers. Business was far better than expected. It was good, damn near great! Some auto advertisers were patting themselves on the back for their Super Bowl ads that went viral – viral all year! The consumer marketplace despite the on-going recession was in the car buying and leasing mood.  Result?

Single malts and champagne toasts along with the occasional long necks were raised in praise of the outgoing year along with great expectations and eager optimism for 2013.

The Last Word!

But in some corners of the automotive marketing, advertising, promotion and public relations world the future was at best bleak. There were more important new ad agency appointments in 2012 than ever before with many unplanned career changes and relocations for creatives, media and suits at every level. And there’s at least one big switch to come in the New Year with others rumored.

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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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Marty’s Marketing Minutia – Winners & Losers Edition

Our marketing maven's take on COTY and NASCAR

by on Nov.16, 2012

Hyundai execs celebrate last year's win for North American Car of the Year.

Among the harbingers of Fall are the pernickety Car of the Year Awards (aka COTY) presented in numerous vehicle categories by enthusiast magazines, auto websites, various syndicated columnists and, well, it seems like almost everyone weighs in these days.

Many winners are so surprised their agencies have barely time to simultaneously release multi-page-ads in consumer and trade publications and duly note their accolade in TV spots. Not that there was any advance notice of course.

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Then there is the most prestigious COTY award – make that North American Car and Truck of the Year awards — presented during the Detroit Auto show, an event that has justifiably become known as the most prestigious and credible of the breed considering the winners are chosen by a group of 50 independent U.S. and Canadian auto writers.

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Marty’s Marketing Minutia

Ferrari takes to the rails, Nissan gets a Bolt from Usain, inside Google and more.

by on Oct.19, 2012

Yes, it's even faster than a Ferrari.

It might have been a slow week for the automotive marketing world if it weren’t for the world’s fastest man, London Olympics star Usain Bolt showing up in Tokyo this time for a tie-up with Nissan — more of that to follow.

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In fact, endorsements were the dominant news, Martha Stewart linking up with Toyota while Kia moved from Hamsters to a jazzy Batman Optima at New York’s Comic Com and Chrysler revealed plans to pair up with Motown – and the hip-hop world.  But here’s a look at some other developments over the past week:

The Ferrari Railroad  

Travelers to Italy rejoice. For a few hundred Euros you can now enjoy a Ferrari on a route from Naples, Rome, Florence, Bologna and Milan on the world’s fastest railroad known as Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori  or NTV.

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