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Marty’s Marketing Minutia

The automobile industry's growing A.D.D. or Advertising's Disastrous Downturn.

by on Mar.20, 2009

The Human Toll


Advertising folks, while often maligned and denigrated, are resilient and resourceful.

To describe a recent visit to Ford’s Dearborn marketing offices only two words are needed: empty; sad.

Offices, cubicles, meeting rooms, break areas that were once filled with marketing professionals — talented, often dedicated creative people — were devoid of everything except remnants of their former life. Pictures, posters and paraphernalia of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury cars, trucks, SUVs, racecars and concepts were tacked or taped to walls literally waiting for someone to take them down. As it is they are simply fading into history.

Change the venue by simply substituting the name of another automotive brand from the Detroit Three. Only the vehicles change. The emptiness reigns supreme. Even international brands have fallen prey to this economic demon.

Change from the client to the agency side and the situation is duplicated. From the big name, big shops with big clients and big budgets to the sometimes big, but usually small creative services shops and suppliers — layoffs, cut-backs, pink slips, down-sizing, de-hires are epidemic and endemic.

Freelancers, the self-unemployed, who are hired on a project basis, have been virtually eliminated, even though they are not paid benefits. 

One longtime friend and a compassionate owner of a highly successful creative services company was near tears as he described the first time people had to be laid off from his company. “They’re not employees, they’re family,” he said, choking back emotion.

A former associate creative director entering advanced middle age, with a blended family ranging from pre-schoolers to near college-age kids, told me he was “terrified” of his future ability to earn a living … anywhere!

Professionally and personally, the misery is staggering in human terms. For those who have worked in automotive advertising industry there literally is no vocational future until the economic situation changes.  (more…)

Marty’s Marketing Minutia

This week's assortment of news, views and schmooze.

by on Mar.13, 2009

Hamsters Star in New Kia Soul Commercial

Late last month millions of Gen X & Y’s movie fans were treated to the newest animal stars in a commercial — hamsters. Yes, those cute, but not too cuddly, rodents have hit the big screen in the prelude to a multi media advertising launch of the Soul, Kia’s newest entry in the smaller car market.

Hamsters running in exercise wheels are a familiar image of mundane sameness, stifling repetitiveness and bland boredom, but suddenly the stars life is changed as the new Kia Soul enters their lives. Everything is changed to stimulating events and activities. The cute – well sort of – hamsters are costumed actors reacting and enjoying the change in their less stimulating lives.

Kia’s longtime advertising agency, David & Goliath has created a fun-filled commercial with an amazing assortment of visuals that are fun to watch while munching on that $10 package of buttered popcorn and drink and getting into the groove of the music. This is a new way to replace sameness and the new Kia tag line, “A new way to roll,” works beautifully. The 60-second commercial is running in a couple thousand movie houses until the full campaign breaks on April 1.

I hate commercials in movies, but the target audience of the Soul dominates the local multiplex theatres weekend after weekend after weekend. And while I’m certainly not the target market either, this is a very clever, well produced cinema commercial. Click here to check it out! There will be more info on the Soul campaign next week including comments from Michael Sprague, marketing vice president of Kia Motors America,

GM Ends Long Relationship with Documentarian Ken Burns

General Motors was forced to end its ten year financial underwriting of Academy Award winning film maker, Ken Burns because of its ongoing attempts to conserve cash in the Great Recession.

Just another unwanted consequence of GM's troubles.

Just another unwanted consequence of the troubles at GM.

Burns was another casualty of the General’s mounting financial woes, but it is also a major loss to millions of viewers of his carefully crafted, interesting, entertaining and educational movies about American life and lives. The range if titles in indicative of the appeal: The War, Jazz, Lewis & Clark, Frank Lloyd Wright, Mark Twain, Statue of Liberty, Baseball, Brooklyn Bridge and many others. His last for GM is a history of our National Parks set to air in September.

GM’s support and financial aid for a variety of cultural institutions, events and activities has enriched millions of lives. It was not largess, nor was it commercial. It was a corporate dedication and commitment to add to our lives. We all will miss this support.