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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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Dodge Pulls out of NASCAR

“Clearly an extremely difficult decision.”

by on Aug.07, 2012

What was to have been the 2013 Dodge NASCAR entry (r) sits alongside the street version of the Dodge Charger.

In what a top executive described as “Clearly an extremely difficult decision,” Dodge is pulling out of NASCAR, the maker announced Tuesday afternoon, confirming reports that had first surfaced on the website run by the popular race series earlier in the day.

The decision to abandon what is the most widely followed motorsports program in the U.S. was the belated result of the decision by Team Penske to abandon Dodge and sign on with its arch-rival Ford Motor Co.  That unexpected setback, last March, left the smaller brand frantically searching for a new team and sponsors just as was ready to begin testing an all-new car for the 2013 NASCAR season.

After months of effort, no effective solution came together, a senior Chrysler executive lamented during a Tuesday conference call with reporters, leaving the Dodge brand no option but to pull out.

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“Cash,” insisted Ralph Gilles, the head of Chrysler corporate motor sports operations, “was not the issue.”  Instead, he repeatedly stressed, the effort to replace the Penske team had to be seen as “a multi-piece puzzle.  We couldn’t, unfortunately, put together a structure that made competitive sense for next year.”

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Ford Focus Electric to Pace NASCAR

A quiet revolution on the track?

by on Apr.17, 2012

The new Focus Electric will be the first pure battery-electric vehicle to pace a NASCAR race.

According to some, the Mayan calendar predicts the world will end in December.  Others now believe the apocalypse will arrive even sooner.  On April 28th, to be precise, when Ford’s new Focus Electric serves as the pace car for the NASCAR race in Virginia.

The new battery car — which is just starting to roll into showrooms in a few select markets – is about to become the first electric vehicle to pace a Sprint Cup Series event.  And proponents say it’s a sign that the new technology is coming of age.

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“Highlighting the Focus Electric as a pace car is a fun way to educate consumers about the kinds of benefits our electrified vehicles deliver and show people our commitment to provide Ford customers the power of choice for leading fuel economy in the vehicle that best meets their needs,” proclaimed Mark Fields, Ford’s President of the Americas.

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Goodyear “Support our Troops” Racing Tires?

Opportunistic marketing or nice gesture, as Eagle racing tires go red white and blue for the Fourth of July NASCAR weekend?

by on Jul.02, 2010

You can bid on an Eagle in a charity auction, although it will be, er, somewhat used.

The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company says it will change all Eagle tires for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races over the July 4th holiday weekend to a new design with a “patriotic red, white and blue color scheme,” reading “Support Our Troops” on the tires’ sidewalls.

The exclusive tire supplier of NASCAR’s three major national series claims it is a “thank you” to the service men and women of the United States Armed Forces.

It also launches the Goodyear Support Our Troops program. Goodyear will help jump-start this new fundraising effort with a $20,000 donation to Support Our Troops, a nonprofit nationwide organization that delivers more than $8 million per year in care packs and requested items to the front lines, positive support at home, and kids’ camp assistance.

The Goodyear Support Our Troops program will also provide consumers a variety of ways to show their support for the troops and will encourage everyone to participate in a series of fund-raising initiatives to benefit members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families.

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Goodyear says Support Our Troops tires will raise awareness for the effort and will also serve as the first step in the fund-raising campaign, as Goodyear will auction some driver-autographed tires used in the July 3rd Coke Zero 400.

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NASCAR Needs to Improve MIS. But How?

Sunday’s race at Michigan’s 42-year-old track was a snooze.

by on Jun.15, 2010

Debris or not debris? That is the question.

It’s time for NASCAR to improve the racing at Michigan International Speedway.

The speedway has seen numerous improvements over the years, mostly to better the fan experience outside the track itself, but Sunday’s Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 illustrates that the series needs to improve racing at the 2.0-mile tri-oval in the Irish Hills.

One of the main reasons for NASCAR’s explosive growth in recent years has been the competitiveness of the racing. Tradin’ paint, jockeying for position and liberal use of yellow lights and almost identical cars – all make the series the most competitive form of automotive racing in the world.

However, Sunday’s race at Michigan’s 42-year-old track was a snooze. Denny Hamlin led 123 laps out of 200. Only two other drivers, Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne, were anywhere near him for most of the race.

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Race winner Denny Hamlin said it appeared to him that NASCAR did its best to bunch up the cars, calling what appeared to be a phantom caution for debris on the track with 17 laps to go, for one final restart.

Kasey Kahne, 9 seconds behind, said he saw debris, not without self interest.

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“Racing In America” Gets the Green Flag at The Henry Ford

$15 million exhibition will cover all aspects of auto racing

by on Jun.11, 2010

The Henry Ford's new Racing in America exhibition will honor all forms of racing, from dragsters to Formula One.

It’s already the home to everything from some of the earliest sewing machines to the largest steam locomotives, but soon, The Henry Ford Museum, in Dearborn, Michigan, will add a $15 million, 22,000 square-foot permanent addition to its Hall of Innovation, to be called Racing In America.

Museum president Patricia Mooradian said that the exhibition would combine a number of significant race cars the museum already owns, as well as a variety of donated and loaned items from various team owners, drivers, racing teams and other museums.

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“The Henry Ford,” as it has come to be known, will be the first to cover all forms of racing in one collection, she noted, along with the “risk-takers, problem-solvers and people who dared,” who made their names and fortunes in racing.

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