Posts Tagged ‘ad agencies’

Until now, Cadillac has proven the adage: “Nothing hurts a bad product more than good advertising.”

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

This morning Cadillac introduced a new campaign from its new agency (Adweek 12/1013). The good news is that for the first time in a decade and a half, the product is as good or maybe better than the advertising.  The new ATS and CTS are getting rave reviews from the industry pundits and there seems to be broad agreement that finally, the Cadillac product is up to the job of moving the brand into the rarified air of Tier 1 luxury where Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lexus and Audi compete.

The Cadillac brand has been through a lot of marketing fits, starts and shifts over the last decade and a half. Messaging has been inconsistent and no real brand values established. That said, there have been some terrific ad campaigns that have gotten the brand noticed, unfortunately the product wasn’t as good as the advertising.

In the 2002 Super Bowl, Cadillac introduced its “Breakthrough” campaign (from Leo Burnett) hitting the heart of the boomer generation with Led Zeppelin:

The Breakthrough campaign really helped Cadillac get noticed again after years of being ignored by boomers who were buying Mercedes-Benzs, BMWs, Lexi and Audis.

In the mid-2000s Cadillac changed agencies (to Modernista) and produced this commercial for its “Life. Liberty. and the Pursuit” campaign:

In 2008, Cadillac introduced Kate Walsh as a spokesperson and raised a few eyebrows:

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“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

Simon Sinek spoke at TED in September, 2009 and he offered this wisdom about leaders and powerful brands: “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

I was reminded of this in a conversation with a colleague in the automotive industry.  He asked me what I thought of his most recent advertising.  There was nothing decidedly wrong with the advertising but it fell into the trap of doing what Sinek called speaking from the outside-in.  In other words the advertising basically said we sell luxury cars that have these mildly interesting features.

I told my colleague that I felt that the advertising didn’t have a point-of-view that came from the brand and therefore it fell short of having the power to change perception.  I spoke about the need for “core values” that in turn would shape the brand’s perspective.  I suggested that he needed to find the 2 or 3 immutable truths about the brand without which it wouldn’t be the same brand.

Sinek gets at the same issue by asking:  “What is your belief? What is your cause?”  Another way to express it is: What is your company’s or brand’s ethos, what are your guiding principles?

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.

How can it be that in an industry where we expect people to make the second largest purchase of their lifetimes (a home being the largest) the “why you do it” piece of strategy gets so little emphasis.  We know this to be true because so much of the marketing in the category is uninspired.  Most of it emphasizing features and pricing in mildly entertaining executions.

But there are a few great automotive brands that do understand “why they do it.”  Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Jeep, Suburu, Lexus all come to mind.  Each of these brands have a defined “why they do it” that truly shapes what they make and at their best how they market it.

Despite from time to time losing their way, these great automotive brands always seem to come back to their “why they do it.”

Recently, Mercedes-Benz introduced their latest S-Class.  The S-Class has always been the epitome of what Mercedes-Benz represents.  True to form, the S-Class marketing overtly expresses the brand’s “why they do it:”

While I don’t love the line “The best or nothing,” it is a literal translation of “das beste oder nichts,”  the company’s “why they do it” in the founder’s own words. Somehow editing the translation seems inappropriate.

Just today Jeep announced the introduction of the new Cherokee and despite having seemingly lost their way in recent years, here comes a new campaign about the joy of adventure and exploration, values that have always been at the heart for the brand: (more…)

Super Bowl XLV–Will the auto industry carry the day?

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Last year, I asked the same question and I think the answer was “no.”

Audi’s terrific A3 TDI commercial led the automotive pack, ranked 6th of 65 by USAToday but all the others were also-rans. Here’s how the automotive participants ranked in last year’s advertising beauty contest:

A dismal showing by the auto industry.  Despite being one of the highest interest product categories with some often fantastic products, we seem to be unable to captivate the Super Bowl audience.

To be clear, getting highly ranked in USAToday’s poll has nothing to do with judging a TV commercial’s effectiveness, it simply is a measure of a panel of consumers’ reactions and “how much they liked each ad.”  But it is without question, ‘the game within the game.’  As a Super Bowl advertiser you spend $3MM or so for 30 seconds and the chance to get noticed and liked. It’s an opportunity to get tongues around the world wagging about your ad, your brand and maybe even your products.

But to make that happen, you have to do something amazing. (more…)

Chevrolet breaks new Cruze television ads.

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

This morning Chevrolet’s campaign for the new Cruze broke.  Two televsion commercials produced by Goodby with Tim Allen as the voice-over.

Nothing earth shaking here, nicely produced  and very product focussed, the commercials clearly make the point that the Cruze is a car that is surprising people. “Get used to more” is a nice line and a huge improvement over “Excellence for all.”   More than anything else the tone and manner sets these executions apart from recent Chevrolet work:

These commercials certainly make the point that the Chevrolet Cruze offers a lot versus the competition and is worthy of a look but they do not offer a big “ah ha” regarding the positioning of the Chevrolet brand.

It will be interesting to see where they go from here.

Cadillac breaks new ground in auto industry marketing with an old idea.

Friday, August 6th, 2010

I was speaking with a colleague the other day and we were trying to think of an instance where an automobile manufacturer (or any brand for that matter) looked back into its own history and re-introduced a brand tagline that had been thrown in the bin.

We couldn’t think of any and we began to talk about what a mistake that was.  We were able to rattle off a number of instances, where great automotive brands walked away from positioning or taglines that perfectly encapsulated their brands.  Mercedes-Benz left behind “Engineered like no other car in the world.”  Volkswagen threw away “Drivers wanted.”  Chevrolet moved away from “Heartbeat of America.”  A few months ago, BMW, one of the most consistent marketers in the industry, looked as if they were moving away from “The Ultimate Driving Machine” in favor of  “Joy.”  In the case of BMW, this has been hotly denied and “TUDM” still appears at the end of the ads but it has certainly been demoted.

Why does this happen?  Why does it seem so difficult for marketers to realize that they have a real asset that needs to be protected and nourished?  A lot has to do with the constant pressure to increase volume and the find something new to “take the brand to the next level.”  The other factor is the constant churn of marketing management and agencies.  New marketing leadership needs to demonstrate that it is moving the business forward and that means doing something new.  Every agency is genetically coded to do something “new and unexpected” to burnish their reputation.  Bringing back an old idea can also be seen as a copout.

So it struck me this morning when I read an article in Advertising Age where Joel Ewanick was interviewed and he said that Fallon (Cadillac’s new agency) had developed the brand’s soon to be introduced tag-line: “The new standard of the world.”

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Corvette vs. Jeep Grand Cherokee. Ads not product.

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

We wouldn’t expect one of the buff books to have a comparo between the 2011 Corvette and the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee but in marketing circles there’s an active discussion going on comparing their new advertising.

Chrysler’s new ad for the Jeep Grand Cherokee first appeared about a month ago and seeks to stir Americans’ pride in our heritage as builders and innovators:

Chevrolet’s new ad for Corvette appeared last week on the All-Star game and draws a parallel between our country’s space program and the 2011 Corvette:

Some critics have gone as far as saying that Chevrolet should not have aired the Corvette commercial because it was too similar to the Jeep spot.  There are certainly similarities between the executions. (more…)

New ideas from Chevy and Cadillac. We’re still waiting for a brand idea.

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Last year, fresh out of bankruptcy, General Motors ran the first ad with Ed Whitacre.  At the time, GM rationalised the Whitacre ad by saying:

“The spot will set up a wider TV campaign featuring commercials about each of GM’s four surviving brands: Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac.”  Automotive News, 9/10/09

The implication being that the brand advertising would clarify the brands’ identities. Almost three heads of marketing later, we still have yet to see an ad  or an idea that positions these brands clearly in the marketplace.  Three of the four GM brands have not put a stake in the ground telling us what they stand for (GMC is the exception and that work was done years ago).

Last week it leaked out that Chevy was going to have the tag-line “Excellence for all.” That idea has been roundly criticized as a strategy looking for an execution.  We used to describe an idea like this by saying its “strategy is showing.”  The point of course is that it lacks passion, emotion, bravado, something magical that makes you feel something about the brand, rather it’s as if research wrote the line. Chevrolet is truly one of America’s most storied and iconic brands, surely it deserves better.

Predictably the industry was quick to blame Publicis (Chevrolet’s new agency), I think that’s misplaced.

Ironically, exhibit number 1 in defense of Publicis is the new Cadillac campaign from Bartle Bogle & Hegarty.  Just announced yesterday, here are a couple of the commercials: (more…)

Everything “Old” Is “New” Again by Curvin O’Rielly

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Curvin O’Rielly has been kind enough to allow us to publish this article on McNaughton Automotive Perspectives.  For those of you who don’t know Curvin, he is one of the most respected copywriters in the advertising business.  Among his automotive  accomplishments was the creation of the Saturn brand with his colleagues at Hal Riney and Partners.  As you will see, Curvin’s perspective on automobile advertising is both timely and timeless.

Everything “Old” Is “New” Again

By Curvin O’Rielly

In 1982, when I was a young creative director at BBDO in New York, I was asked to write an article about the automobile business for Magazine Age.

The article was well received. I even won an American Business Press award for it. The question is, has it stood the test of time?

Well, some of the details I included in the article are as dated as the wide ties we used to wear (the ones you’re saving, hoping they come back into style again), or the disco music we used to listen to (admit it; you boogeyed to disco), or the haul-ass iron we used to drive, the cars with more horsepower than their suspension systems and brakes could reasonably handle (unless they were well-engineered vehicles from Europe).

What’s still true about my article, unfortunately, is that the automobile industry is once again in deep trouble. This time, it’s poised at the abyss, owing in part to the economic tremors that came close to causing a complete meltdown. At the abyss, too, because it was smart (or so it prided itself) but then not smart enough. I mean, surely those at the wheel had to have seen all the danger signs on the road they were heading down, just as they had to have known they were racing toward a disaster of epic proportions.

That said, here are the observations I made 28 years ago, with some minor rewrites here and there.

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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…)

Super Bowl XLIV: Which automotive manufacturer got it done?

Monday, February 8th, 2010

The sentimental favorites won the Super Bowl…at least the football game part.

Generally speaking I thought the advertising game within the game was just OK, not great.  Within the automotive segment, six manufacturers stepped up for the Super Bowl:

As I said in an earlier post, the tough part about advertising in the Super Bowl is that while the football game is the primary draw, the advertising contest comes in a close second.  As an advertiser you have to be willing to do work that will stand out and entertain because the very next day the “results” of the ad contest will be published in USAToday.

I always watch the Super Bowl hoping that one or more of the automobile manufacturers will break out of the category mold and amaze us.  Here’s my take on the automotive commercials, from best to worst:   (more…)