Porsche’s “Everyday Magic” campaign. What were they thinking?

Years ago, the enthusiast crowd and many industry observers were appalled at Porsche’s introduction of the Cayenne. Clearly an effort to build volume and profit for the company, many feared an SUV would destroy the Porsche brand.

The naysayers (me included) were wrong. The Cayenne has gone on to be the brand’s biggest seller and I think it’s fair to say that the 911 just keeps cruising along as one of the world’s premier sports cars. One of the reasons that the Cayenne did not damage the Porsche brand was that Stuttgart was incredibly clear that the Cayenne would be the “Porsche of SUVs,” in other words, a high performance SUV. Jeff Zwart (a Porsche factory driver as well as commercial director) directed, participated in and produced this Cayenne introductory video for Porsche:

Road to Cayenne

Obviously, the sole purpose of this video was to establish the Cayenne’s performance credentials and lineage.  Porsche successfully expanded volume by introducing a product true to the brand’s core values and marketed it successfully based on those values.  In fact you could argue that Porsche is doing exactly the same thing with the Panamera (introducing the “Porsche of four door sedans”).  We could debate whether the world needs another high performance sedan given Audi’s S models, BMW’s M series and Mercedes-Benz AMG models, but so far Porsche Panamera sales indicate that from a product point of view, Porsche judged the market well.

Porsche has successfully proven that it can expand volume by carefully developing line extensions that reflect the brand’s core value of performance.

So why, would they allow their latest marketing campaign to go so far afield?  What would possess them to feature the iconic 911 and the very successful  Cayman in communications designed to demonstrate that they are not “just” high performance sports cars, rather they are excellent everyday drivers:

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Do the marketing folks at Porsche really think that a perception of a lack of everyday utility is holding back sales of 911s? Really?

Sounds like research run amok.

I hate to clue the marketing guys in, but the 911 and Cayman are not good everyday drivers. They’re not great in the snow, they don’t offer much room for luggage or bags of cement, nor do I envy that child that had to get in the back seat of the “school bus.” I will give them “getaway car,” after a long day at the office driving home in a Porsche would be sweet.

Seems to me that the designers and the engineers have done a very good job of defining the 911 and the Cayman. To quote an old BMW headline, the 911 and the Cayman are “The epitome of truth in packaging.”  They are not particuallry utile but they are great looking and big fun to drive.

The essence of clear positioning is knowing not only what you “are” but knowing what you “are not.”  The 911 and the Cayman “are not” good everyday drivers and they are not particularly utile.  They “are” however, high performance machines that offer a very special driving experience.

I do recognize that a lack of utility prevents people from buying 911s and Caymans, but that’s the way it should be and marketing shouldn’t be trying to change it.

In the never-ending quest for volume, they may squeeze a few more units out of the 911 and the Cayman.  The real question is, will it be worth it?

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27 Responses to “Porsche’s “Everyday Magic” campaign. What were they thinking?”

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  15. Juan Barnett says:

    I’ll add my .02 having never owned a Porsche, yet have many friends who own one, even ones out-of-warranty! Why? Brand panache, duh. They know what ‘Porsche’ means in both image and application (read – joy of driving). Is that brand tarnished by an SUV (and soon CUV) and Coupe de Sedan? NO. They are all still the bastard children of Germany’s finest automotive DNA (so is VW and Audi…but that’s a whole different can of worms).

    SUV/Sedan

    Think about the stifled demand from scores of pretentious soccer moms, dying to shed the 50-Cent-flair associated with Escalades, yet still wanting to say Look-At-Me, I drive a big luxury SUV! Also think of the men who because of one-too-many glasses of wine entered parenthood sans a taste of Frankfurt’s finest.

    Why the ad then for the 911. No idea. It’s that simple. It just doesn’t make sense. My only thought is someone in finance said to marketing – ‘Ja, de trucks unt saloons are taking profits from zie biggest makah ufh moneey, zie 9-1-1.’

    Purists will defend till death any decision Winterkorn & crew make (see comments in this thread about housing-flips using Cayman S’s as dump trucks). Those fans should at the least be open to criticizing the advertising decisions…to avoid blatant fan boy labels and such.

    Happy Motoring,
    @DCAutoGeek

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  18. Brian says:

    You really think that the Porsche Everyday ads were meant to devalue the brand of their performance experience? I drive a Porsche Cayman S in rain, snow or 90 + degree weather. I can tell you that I get around in the winter paired with winter tires than most of the SUV’s in the area. Everyone looks miffed by the fact I’m getting around as well as I am. Is it the ideal everyday car, NO. But idiots that write posts like yours have no foresight into seeing the what the advert was all about. It’s about Porsche’s and being more accessible to the everyday driver. Not Porsche saying that you should use it as an everyday driver. Why I am inclined to put my foot in your mouth I have no idea. Maybe it’s just lack of education that seperates you from the rest of the world that has intelligent thought and process. Open your mind man. You obviously have not owned a Porsche before and understand the utility of the cars. Sure they aren’t ideal but God knows I’m not going to be like every other cookie cutter person out in America and drive the American made pieces of crap that are on the market today. Give me a Porsche anyday and I am a customer of theirs for life. In the meantime sir, get a clue. Keep your poetic filth off the internet.

  19. Cameron says:

    Oldschool, there are of course thousands of people just like you who use their Porsche’s as everyday drivers. That was not the point of my post. The 911 holds a very iconic position in the marketplace and that tampering with that is a risk that the marketing guys should not be taking. The advertising makes the 911 feel commonplace and that’s a mistake.

    Thanks for taking the time to read and write!

  20. OldSchool says:

    My 2006 Carrera S (911) has been my daily driver since 12/02/05. I finished $60K remodel using this car (cut 16′ shoe molding in half and stuck it in moonroof – same with PVC pipe), put 2 5gal tool buckets in the “boot” with SkilSaw and main tool kit on floor, passenger side. Have picked up 160 lbs. water softener salt. Wife and I took 3.5 weeks and 7500 miles to drive roundtrip from Florida to Big Sur, CA. Three times have taken 3 adults short (<20 miles) distances. Backseat not comfortable, but doable and larger than Datsun 280ZX 2+2.

    Finally, I spent a month in Denver, mid-December to mid-January. Near the Tech Center, after a particularly heavy snow, I saw a Jeep and Carrera 4S side-by-side at a light. Temp was 10F with about a foot of packed unplowed snow on the road. From the light, the Jeep crabbed off to the right (and had to stop before being on sidewalk) while Porsche with full-time All Wheel Drive took off smartly straight and true.

    As a prospective 911 owner, I actually called two 911 owners to find out if it could be used as a daily driver. Only one criticism was placed: You must carry golf clubs in the passenger seat, since they won't fit elsewhere.

    Previous comments smack of speculation and ignorance of current Porsche technology. Having corrected from aquaplaning at 100+ mph, I agree that the car drives like it is on rails. Furthermore, the Cayenne performs almost the same. Trail-braking through the apex of a 90 degree turn to an on ramp @ 70 mph is something that you don't expect from an SUV, but in 2007 it was possible and the PASM has improved since then.

    The new commercials are fun, and based on this driver's experience, reflective of the magic I wish I had experienced long before I was 58 years old. BTW – before attempting high-speed driving at home, SkipBarber 3 day open wheel racing class followed with 2 day advanced racing class is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Be Safe and Enjoy the Magic.

  21. daisy cove says:

    Anyone half wit MBA understands brand integrity and value. Porsche has spent years and billions of dollars developing brand value, and they very quickly eroded it with these 60 sec tv spots. The first time I saw the commercial I doubled back on the tivo. Whaaaa Porsche as a school bus!?!? I hope they sacked the marketing twit that came up with this and more-so I hope that brand loyalist are not turned off by this. Porsche needs to file this and move forward.

  22. Sumflow says:

    This is just silly

    Robbie McNaughton says:> it’s not an every day car or brand.

    A Porsche can do what any other sports car can do with more reliability and style. What is the point of having a crash, or losing time, in some other machine, when it could have been avoided if you had been driving your Porsche left parked at home?

    Last words of a dying man… I could have avoided it if I had been in my Porschaaaa…

  23. Curvin O'Rielly says:

    I drove my first 911 (an ’80 Targa) to the office every day. This was in Chicago. When Chicago’s harsh winters came along – snow, ice, salt, potholes, etc. – I put my Porsche in the garage. During the three years I lived in Chicago, I drove a “winter dog,” a car I bought for chump change and dumped as soon as nice weather arrived. My second 911, an ’85 Cabriolet, was a car I bought out of sheer lust when I saw it one night front and center in the dealer’s showroom. Buying the car was pure lunacy. I owned it for a year and drove it on weekends only. When I sold it, it had 2400 miles on the odometer, which included a trip to Maine where I picked up my daughter at summer camp. There was enough room in the car for all her stuff, so it had at least some utility value. FYI: I gave my son and a friend of his a ride in the car once. My son sat up front. His friend sat in the back. I drove carefully. Nonetheless, my son’s friend lost his lunch. So much for a 911 being a daily driver, especially when it comes to picking up kids at school.

  24. Robbie McNaughton says:

    Dad/Cam,

    I tend to disagree with comments and agree with you. Part of what makes Porsche Porsche is the fact that it’s not an every day car or brand. It’s a sports car, and an elite one at that. It’s who they are. I’d almost argue that part of the allure of the brand is the fact that it’s inherently almost unattainable. The little boy looking at car magazines in his room isn’t fantasizing over the attainable Ford Taurus or Honda Civic, he’s imagining himself in the “cockpit” of the elite, prohibitively expensive Porsche GT3. Just my amateur opinion.

    – Robbie

  25. David-Anthony says:

    Cam,

    Great observations, however, I’m not incline to agree with you. While I think it will always be an aspirational brand I think this is an attempt to make it an approachable\attainable brand that many people can see themselves driving. While a Porsche is probably never going to be everything to everyone, we can all use a little magic engineering to bring out the child in all of us!

  26. Cameron says:

    Thanks Rand. I don’t disagree with you about the average Porsche driver and I really do understand what they are trying to do with the campaign. It just set my bullshit meter off in a profound way.

  27. Cam,

    You make good points. And I can’t argue with the snow issue. But I’m torn. They’re not changing the car, just trying to change the stereotype of who drives it. When I think of Porsche, it’s a car driven by 50+ year old rich guys with gray hair. Probably more of a weekend car even if there is no place to put the golf clubs. So to make me think of it as the ultimate commuter/shopping/drop the kids at school car is not such a bad thing. And if I was the kid who had to sit in the back … I’d love every minute of it.

    Rand

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