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Halloween Partygoers Need a Sober Driver

Safe driving will help ensure a happy celebration.

by on Oct.26, 2009

The point is for everyone to come home safe.

The point is for everyone to arrive home safely after the party.

With nearly one in three adults planning to attend or host a Halloween party this year, AAA urges partygoers to plan in advance by designating a sober driver before enjoying the festivities.

“Halloween has become an increasingly popular occasion for adults to host and attend parties where alcohol is frequently served. By designating a sober driver, or by choosing not to drink alcoholic beverages if driving solo, this popular holiday can be less frightening for everyone,” said Jake Nelson, director, AAA Traffic Safety Research and Advocacy.

According to the National Retail Federation, Halloween parties for adults have been growing in popularity during the past decade. This year about 30% of all adults will be celebrating with others, and an estimated 62% of those aged 18-24 will attend or host a party.

With legions of child pedestrians and their adult escorts in neighborhoods for trick-or-treating this weekend, and many costume-clad adults taking to the roads to attend holiday parties, it is imperative that everyone involved in the celebration think about the importance of traffic safety, AAA said.


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.


Chrysler Tries Once Again to Trim UAW Rolls

Offers mirror earlier failed attempts to cut protected workforce.

by on May.18, 2009

Chrysler St. Louis South Assembly Plant

It's understandable that workers are reluctant to take buyouts since unemployment keeps rising.

Chrysler is making a new  early retirement offer to members of the United Auto Workers Union at six factories, including two Detroit area plants, which are now slated to be left behind when the “new” Chrysler emerges from bankruptcy.

The offer comes on top of another outstanding buyout/early retirement package that was first presented to UAW members back in February and is set to expire May 26.

The objective of both buyout and early retirement packages is to reduce the size of the company’s hourly work force in the U.S. from 26,000 to about 22,000 or less, according to documents filed with the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

UAW members at the Sterling Heights Assembly in Sterling Heights, Michigan, Conner Avenue Assembly plant in Detroit, Kenosha Engine in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Twinsburg Stamping in Twinsburg, Ohio, and two assembly plants in Fenton, Missouri, near St. Louis, have until May 26 to accept the new offers, Chrysler officials said.    (more…)

Marty’s Marketing Minutia

Recognition, rewards and rambles.

by on May.15, 2009

Like most of you, I’m sick of the discouraging, depressing, downer news we’ve been getting all week. As much as it is possible, this is a good news edition.

GSD&M Idea City Gets Worldwide BMW Biz

There were yahoos, yippee’s, hoot’s and hollers in Austin, Texas on Thursday when word was received that GSD&M Idea City, part of the Omnicon Group, had been given the assignment as the lead global advertising agency for BMW AG in Munich Germany.

Duff Stewart, president and COO of GSD&M described the agency selection process to me in a telephone conversation this morning. Winning the account was based on a three week creative shoot-out with four other BMW agencies from around the world. 

Duff noted, “The other BMW agencies were Ireland & Davenport of South Africa, WCRS of UK, MAB from Germany and Interone of China. For GSD&M Idea City to be selected, as an agency located in Austin, Texas is wonderful. Austin has never been known as the Mecca of advertising in the U.S. It does demonstrate that ideas can come from anywhere and says a lot about the creative community in Austin, Texas. We are honored to have the opportunity to expand and grow our partnership with BMW.”

At the present time there are no plans to open offices in Germany, but Duff said team members have a monthly meeting in Germany already. The BMW team at GSD&M is headed by David Matathia, vp-idea team leader who runs the business and Jay Russell, the group creative director. No billings numbers were given, which is not unusual.  When asked about hiring additional people for the business, the response was vague – bottom line: don’t send resumes or books just yet.

BMW’s first global work via GSD&M will use the central theme “Joy,” now used in the new Z4 campaign covered below. It will be introduced this summer and in the U.S. next year.  Stay tuned for sneak previews when they become available. 

What Might Chrysler’s New Advertising Look Like?

As Chrysler’s ill conceived corporate campaign continues — I’m calling it the un-campaign – unpersuasive, unimpressive and unimaginative ads, a thought crossed my mind: what might the new Chrysler ads look like? A review of You Tube’s listing produced a variety of different creative approaches. Here are a few I liked. First is a Fiat Bravo Commercial, then a history of the Fiat 500 car and brand. Not so enjoyable is a video of a crash test between the Fiat 500 and an Audi Q5      (more…)

Fisker Automotive Wants Treasury Funding

It wants to plug into taxpayer funds to develop a smaller car.

by on May.13, 2009

Before delivering one hybrid car, a new one is promised. Is that a plug-in hype-bred.

Before delivering one hybrid car, a new one is promised. Is that a plug-in hype-brid?

Henrik Fisker, the founder and chief executive officer of Fisker Automotive, said his fledgling auto company could have a smaller, less expensive vehicle with broad appeal ready for market within 29 months if it succeeds in obtaining funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Fisker Automotive is one of the companies vying for funding under a special Department of Energy loan program approved in 2007 designed to help carmakers improve fuel economy. The program is separate from the federal bailout of GM and Chrysler and has attracted the interest of several carmakers and battery makers. It has also attracted a number of unproven start-up companies with little or no auto experience.

The upheaval in the car business now unfolding represents “the most dramatic change in the history of cars,” Fisker said following an appearance at the Automotive Press Association in Detroit.

“It’s the first time in 30 or 40 years where new start-up car companies have a real chance. They really haven’t had any chance in the last 30 or 40 years because they would just come up with another gasoline-powered car and nobody needs that,” said Fisker, whose firm is preparing to launch a new plug-in hybrid in early 2010.  (more…)

Ford Announces Public Offering of another 300 Million Shares of Common Stock

The company is watering the shares in an attempt to raise badly needed cash due to declining sales and market share.

by on May.11, 2009

Read the fine print carefully before buying any of the offered shares.

Read the fine print carefully before buying any of the newly offered Ford Motor Company shares.

Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) announced late today a public offering of 300 million shares of its common stock at a par value of $0.01 per share. Ford said it also expects to grant to the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to 45 million shares of common stock. It clearly is trying to cash in on the well publicized troubles of Chrysler and GM, although its own financial health is on life support.

Ford lost $1.4 billion in the first quarter and decreased its cash from $28.7 billion in the first quarter of 2008 to $21.3 billion in cash for Q1 2009. In 2008 it lost a record $14.7 billion. The offering, depending on final price, could raise $1.8 billion in cash.

Net proceeds to Ford from the offering are expected to be used for “general corporate purposes,” including to fund with cash, instead of stock, a portion of the payments the company is required to make to the Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA) retiree health care trust with the United Auto Workers union, which was agreed to earlier this year. The company also has a proposal pending at the annual meeting later this week for approval to issue shares of common stock in a transaction or series of related transactions in amounts equal to or in excess of 20% of the number of shares of common stock outstanding. 

In total 3,147,397,653 common shares will be outstanding, if the underwriters’ option to purchase additional shares is exercised in full. There will also be 71 million shares of Class B stock. Each outstanding share of common stock is entitled to one vote on all matters submitted to a vote of shareholders. Each holder of Class B, which is held by members of the Ford family, have 40% of the general voting power, as long as at least approximately 60.7 million shares of Class B stock remain outstanding. This means a share of B has 22 votes compared with one vote for one share of common.

This effectively guarantees that control of the company resides with the Ford family, and is one of the primary reasons the company did not seek loan guarantees from the U.S. government since family control could have been lost in a restructuring.  Instead, Ford mortgaged the company before the global financial crisis hit.

Subscribe to“We continue to make strong progress on our transformation plan – gaining retail market share with great new products, improving quality, reducing costs and positioning Ford for a return to profitability,” said Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally. “Today’s equity offering is another example of the fast, decisive action we are taking as we build momentum on our plan, including further progress on improving our balance sheet.”

Ford’s actual total market share has declined in 2009.  (more…)

Nissan Reorganizes in The Americas

Huge losses spur a regional approach and a retreat from large trucks to electric vehicles.

by on Apr.28, 2009

"We recognize that we are competing under very difficult conditions,” said Carlos Tavores of Nissan The Americas.

"We recognize that we are competing under very difficult conditions,” said Carlos Tavores of Nissan The Americas.

Coming off  large global and regional losses during the 2008 fiscal year, Nissan is changing the management and structure for the Americas. The latest moves seem to be as much about increasing its share from insignificant in South America, as it is also an attempt to shed costs in North America, after a company-threatening, failed foray into making large SUVs and pickup trucks there.

Carlos Tavares, chairman of the newly reconfigured Management Committee-Americas, described the new plan for growth in the region as a “renewed commitment to delighting customers with innovative ideas for the joy of everyday driving.”

“We are taking a holistic approach to unlock new synergies in the region and to shift the Americas to zero-emission mobility,” he added, in what could be a record for meaningless clichés in one statement, although it is an extremely competitive field among auto execs.

The only immediate “innovation” on the product planning horizon that TDB is aware of involves Nissan’s attempt to counter Toyota’s and Honda’s hybrid dominance with a line of electric vehicles that are due next year in the U.S. and Japan as a demonstration fleet. Two years later, Nissan EVs will be made available to the mass market globally. Demand for EVs remains to be proven.

Japan’s third largest auto company is the only offshore company that has asked for U.S. taxpayer assistance, via a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, where $25 billion has been allocated to encourage production of vehicles that are 25% more fuel efficient than others in the class. The controversial formula used for mileage attained by electric vehicles puts gasoline-powered ones at a disadvantage. (more…)