Coulda sworn we saw it...Fiat's Golden Globe ad came and went.

Fiat’s Vanishing Act

For those not celebrity obsessed, the NBC network broadcast of the Golden Globes award show this past Sunday went largely unnoticed. But it was the darling of the twittering masses.  According to published report the TPS – that’s Twitters Per Second — averaged 6,162 Tweets per second. Per second. Amazing. On the standard media value scale there were 16.8 million viewers of the award show for a 5.0 audience rating, which was down 0.2 million from last year’s epic broadcast. All to view Ricky Gervais’ regurgitation of semi-skewering comments aimed at the A-list attendees in tuxes and gowns — and the home viewers.

While that was pretty much what one might have expected of the Golden Globes –second only to the Oscars in terms of Hollywood’s seasonal self-congratulations – the show did deliver one big surprise: a new Fiat 500 commercial.

No, it was not another remake of the terrible J-Lo spots or the super sexy and controversial Fiat Abarth commercial. This was ‘new’ 60-second Fiat 500 commercial. And a damned good one, too. Excellent production with lots of quick cuts of attractive people, scenes and situations with shots of 500s augmented with good music and compelling, well-delivered copy. Checked the usual sites for copy or links, nothing. Hmm, that was odd. Called the Fiat PR people to ask for a copy of the new commercial to run in this column.  The return call was succinct, “Not available,” I was told, “One-time rights only were purchased for the Golden Globes Show and no copies are available.”

Where had I seen it? Where? Then an Ah-ha moment — the LA Auto Show during Fiat’s media presentation. Received confirmation from Fiat. Why is no copy is available? It’s all about the money. What I saw is known in the ad biz as a non-broadcast presentation-only video – in other words, not a real commercial. This category has a special Screen Actors Guild talent fee that is less than a national broadcast/cable commercial.  Anybody got a video they’d like to share?

Super Bowl XLVI Hype 2.0

The contents of a Super Bowl commercial are usually kept secret with no teases, hints, out-takes or similar planned leaks. Not this year.  And even a couple of the big time XLVI-vertisers are leaking facts about their ads on what will be the biggest broadcast of the year.

Bark Vader? Chew-bacca? VW tries to build on its 2011 Super Bowl campaign.

Volkswagen — a teaser campaign has just begun with a commercial featuring a choir of lots of dogs barking and howling a cacophonous, discordant rendition of the Imperial March theme song from Star Wars. Unnerving but effective and probably no big talent fees. Click Here to check out the teaser…or Here for a link which will take you to a special site for creating a personalized crawl (that’s the copy that rolls from the bottom of the screen up to infinity and vanishes—much like the opening of the original Star Wars) invitation to your Super Bowl party and a tease for VW’s new XLVI commercial. How long will VW milk last year’s commercial? Probably a looooong time.

Cars, rock bands and sexy women - Kia's Super Bowl teaser has them all.

Kia – don’t expect the dancing hamsters in football kit, although that might be funny. The recent media tease mentions Kia is using a supermodel, a rock group and a fighter that appear in one man’s fantasy dream sequence. These three diverse elements in a dream could bring tears of joy to Freudian shrinks. Wonder how they’ll sell the brand’s cars, don’t you?  Expect more teases as February 5 comes closer.

Audi – a semi-tease release and photo announced this year’s XLVI commercial would feature the brand’s signature LED headlights along with the new 2013 Audi S7 sedan. The story theme remains undisclosed.

Does car advertising work? Nissan’s Answer.

During the first hours of the Detroit Show I was asked the question above. My answer was, “Yes. No. Maybe.” But then in subsequent conversations, chats and interviews with several auto CMOs and assorted marketing ad types, I asked them the same question.  Their quick answers were the same as mine, “Yes. No. Maybe.”  But there was one factual ‘yes’ response and that from Jon Brancheau, Nissan’s marketing vice president as it related to Frontier truck advertising.

Brancheau told me, “We had not advertised Frontier in Tier 1 for several years as most of our focus was on tactical efforts.  Given the fact Ford is leaving the segment and we had some vehicle availability mix issues related to the earth quake we launched the campaign in October to stimulate sales. Our Dealer’s immediately confirmed that once we started the campaign the phone calls and lead inquiries on Frontier jumped dramatically.” Bottom line I was told Frontier’s December sales were up almost 50% and YTD around 25%.  Click Here for the commercials.

Audi will emphasize its signature headlamps in its Super Bowl spot.

Audi’s Pre Super Bowl Commercial

As a five year veteran of Super Bowl advertising Audi has a very good fix on what they need to do. The growing brand’s CMO Scott Keogh told me they were going to emphasize, “Our technology, commitment to improvement and adding to our image.” And then he showed me this commercial known as Ahab, an homage to the Melville novel,  which aired for the first time last weekend in NFL playoffs and will air this weekend too. Wonderfully produced and spectacularly cast it certainly fulfills the briefing of what to expect.

Mini must have an agency review

There are agency reviews and then there are agency reviews. Just ask Mini’s sister brand BMW which last year had a major review.  Tom Salkowsky, the brand’s marketing director, told me in a phone conversation earlier this week that Mini’s review, “Has nothing to do with the creative work of their current agency Butler Shine Stern and Partners creative work. We are delighted with their contribution to Mini over the five years they’ve been our agency. This is a corporate purchasing mandate that requires agencies be reviewed every five years.”

That duly noted, Salkowsky said 12 RFIs – requests for information – have been sent to agencies by their agency consultancy, Hasan & Company, of Raleigh, NC. Most shops without an automobile account want one as a corporate jewel. An opportunity is an opportunity, right? Stay tuned.  The agency review does not include their media placements.

GM and Chevy still in the agency hunt

GM and Chevy have been reviewing agencies for the past several weeks, and if they’re a jewel, they’re a big one, with humungous advertising budgets totaling over $4 Billion. Don’t expect any changes or announcements until after the broadcast of the Super Bowl, if then. It’s a very big decision and not much news has been forthcoming.

The thank-you video from Japan

Almost a year has passed since the disaster occurred in Japan. We’ve all heard about the terrible human toll that resulted, its devastation and certainly know about the problems that plagued Toyota, Honda and Nissan. But most of us had no personal experience or tales to relate. Then I received an email from an American friend living in Japan which included a link to a unique video about the year of tragedy and hope. It will take a few minutes to watch but you will see an outpouring of gratitude that is quite moving.

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