Archive for March, 2010

Hyundai’s Assurance Program does not a brand make…now what?

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

The big news in automotive marketing this week was that Joel Ewanick is leaving Hyundai and going to head up marketing at Nissan. Hyundai won 2009 marketer of the year under Ewanick’s leadership and the company implemented the breakthrough Hyundai Assurance Program.

The Hyundai Assurance Program was a stroke of brilliance at a time when the economy and the auto industry were in a tailspin.  It basically gave consumers a no risk way to purchase a vehicle.  If you bought a Hyundai and subsequently lost your job, you could return the car, no questions asked.  Truly brilliant and it propelled Hyundai through the recession and out the other end.  Hyundai’s 2009 sales grew 8% and its share of market was up 1.1 points.  This performance earned it elite status as one of only three automobile brands (Kia & Subaru were the others) to increase volume in 2009, while the industry overall declined 21%*.

The Hyundai Assurance Program was an unqualified success in a tough marketing climate.  But now what? (more…)

JD Power’s 2010 Vehicle Dependability Study–It’s tough to buy a bad car.

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

JD Power just released its 2010 Vehicle Dependability Study and there are some surprises.  Porsche is ranked 1st, Lincoln 2nd and Buick and Lexus are tied for 3rd. It wasn’t so many years ago that Lexus dominated the VDS study as the perennial number 1 and some may wonder what has happened?  Particularly in light of the well publicized Toyota quality issues.

The fact is that nothing has happened to Lexus, they design, engineer and build an extraordinary vehicle.  What’s happened is that the other manufacturers have improved to the point where every year it’s a genuine dogfight to get to the top spot.

There were some other surprises that weren’t so good….  (more…)

2010 NY Auto Show Press Conference Schedule

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
7:15am – 9:20am Opening Press Breakfast
Keynote Speaker: Alan Mulally, President & CEO of Ford Motor Co.
Special Events Hall, Level 1
9:30am – 9:55am Mercedes-Benz Level 3
10:00am – 10:25am Infiniti Level 3
10:30am – 10:55am Ford Level 3
11:00am – 11:25am Chevrolet Level 3

Toyota, NHTSA, safety advocates and the need to address the real cause of accidents.

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Every single day there’s a new article citing an issue with Toyota.

There are certainly plenty of questions on all sides of the issue.  Are Toyotas safe? Are Toyota’s designs faulty?  Did Toyota hold back information?  Is Toyota evil? Is NHTSA just “a lap dog” for the auto manufacturers and simply trying to cover its you know what?  Were our elected officials just grand standing for their own benefit? Is the Federal Government going after Toyota because it owns a big chunk of GM and Chrysler. Are these allegations of Toyotas run amok the creation of lawyers and their clients who see the deep pockets of Toyota?

I’ve come to the opinion that we are worrying about the wrong things. (more…)

We should be embarrassed: Thoughts on the documentary “Art & Copy”

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Who should be embarrassed?  The auto industry and their communications agencies.

If you haven’t had a chance to see the documentary “Art & Copy,” you must.  Last night I saw it for the second time and enjoyed every minute.  If you have worked in the advertising business or are responsible for advertising on the client side it is well worth seeing.

It’s a chance to see some of the most talented people in the agency business talk about what makes great communications.  Hal Riney, Mary Lawrence, Jim Durfee, Lee Clow, George Lois, Jeff Goodby, Rich Silverstein, Dan Wieden and others talk about what they think represents great work and what inspires it.  They talk about great ideas: Braniff’s End of the plain plane, Apple’s 1984 and Think Different, Got Milk, Reagan’s re-election campaign, Nike’s Just Do It and VW’s Think Small among others.

At the end, these people and the work leave you inspired.  You’re reminded that at its best, advertising can change opinion, entertain, move people emotionally and to action.  Great work respects people and treats them decently.  Great work can build brands, companies and value.  Great work is really hard to create, get approved and execute, but when it all comes together, it can move mountains.

Here’s why we should be embarrassed.   (more…)

Can Cadillac succeed in Europe?

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Amid all the drama surrounding GM, every so often I see something that strikes me a smart.  In Geneva, Cadillac announced it’s aspirations for Europe (WSJ 3/8/10 Sub required,  NYT 3/2/10).

After a number of high profile failures to enter the European market in a big way, the folks at Cadillac want to be a niche player and are willing to accept the lower volumes that go along with such a strategy.  By keeping volumes low, and presumably margins high, they expect that they can be profitable from year 1.

I think this strategy is sound and will succeed.  Cadillac’s current design language is unique and appealing.  There has always been a segment of the automotive market that is interested in something different and Europe is no different than the United States in this regard.  In Europe where Mercedes-Benzes, Audis and BMWs are common and cover a multitude of uses including taxis, rental cars, executive cars and the vehicles of choice for captains of industry, there is an opportunity for something “different.”


Unintended acceleration and driver error.

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Below is a letter to the editor from today’s Wall Street Journal that I think provides an important perspective on unintended acceleration.

Allegations of  UA and the media furor around it virtually destroyed Audi in the United States.  Audi was vindicated eventually, with UA and the unfortunate accidents associated with it attributed to driver error.

Toyota is now “in the barrel”  with the politicians and media all intimating that there is some sinister plot at work.  There’s a lot at stake.  If there have been genuine misdeeds then let’s prove it beyond a question of a doubt and hold Toyota responsible. If indeed, driver error was the issue, I hope that the media and our politicians will be as quick to acknowledge the fact as they have been to hoist Toyota on its petard.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below and here’s the letter: