Posts Tagged ‘Porsche’

“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…)

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

Friday, April 8th, 2011

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? (more…)

Jeff Zwart will race a purpose built Porsche GT3 at Pikes Peak

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Here he is on a testing run:

Press release from Porsche: (more…)

What to do about automotive marketing?

Friday, April 30th, 2010

What a difference a year makes.  It’s 2010 and the auto industry is beginning to recover.

After an incredibly tough 2009, consumers seem to be coming back.  For the first time in recent memory, Americans’ perception of domestic automobiles seems to be on the mend (Business Week 4/23).  Ford’s bet that Americans will buy smaller, fully featured automobiles looks like it may pay off.  GM’s product plan created by soon-to-retire Bob Lutz is leading a resurgence for the General.  Hyundai and Kia, supported my excellent product quality, have taken advantage of recessionary sensibilities and grown share of market.  Audi , Subaru and Mini have come out of the recession on a tear.

On the other side of the ledger, Toyota continues to struggle with recalls and concerns about quality.  This has led to unprecedented incentives by Toyota and the predictable response by competitors to match them.  So a good number of consumers who had been sitting on sidelines during the recession have come back to dealerships looking to for a good deal.  After 2009, it’s a relief to see traffic in the stores but at the same time if the incentives continue that will not be good for the industry long term.  In 2009, some progress had been made at reducing the use of incentives, but the moment Toyota jumped in to defend its franchise, that opened the floodgates again.

So the good news is that customers are returning to the stores, but are they coming back for the right reasons?

(more…)

Is Mini moving out of its niche? How to avoid the automotive equivalent of a comb-over.

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

An article in the April 2nd edition of the New York Times was headlined: “Despite Expansion, Mini Says It’s Still a Niche” and confirmed something that had occurred to me at the New York Auto Show.

In New York last week I saw the new Mini crossover, the Countryman, for the first time in person.  All the Mini design cues are present in the Countryman and I think you’d be hard pressed to say that it wasn’t part of the Mini family.  But I was struck by how “big” it seemed, it didn’t seem small and taut the way all the other models do.  Part of the difference was that the Countryman’s ground clearance is higher, so its stance is really quite different than the other Minis.

This got me thinking, at what point does a marque go too far and begin to lose its essential character?  Has Mini gone too far with the Countryman?

I suspect this is a little like losing your hair.  Little by little your hair recedes, almost imperceptibly, you make little adjustments as you go, thinking no one will notice, until one day you end up with comb-over and people are snickering behind your back. Little by little automotive brands seem to lose their way. (more…)

Where have all the great automotive brands gone?

Friday, May 15th, 2009

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As an industry we’ve lost sight of our great brands.  In some cases companies have gone bankrupt or been acquired and a brand disappeared, in others a world war got in the way.  Studebaker, Cord, Horch, MG, Triumph and countless others have evaporated for a variety of reasons.

Today, as Detroit goes through an unprecedented upheaval, there will be more brands lost.  Saturn, a once very special brand, will go away.  So will Pontiac and Hummer.  We can only wonder what will happen to brands like Jeep.  Brands that stood for something, had a point of view, and marketed products that reflected a certain perspective.  Brands that developed a loyal following because they stood for something!  They weren’t for everybody, and that was OK.

As discouraging as it is to see a great brand go away because of a structural change in a company, it’s worse to see brands die of neglect by the very people charged with protecting and building them.  Over the last 20 years we have watched a number of great automotive brands that automotive marketers worked very hard to create, begin to whither away.  The aforementioned Jeep is one, Volvo another.  Mercedes Benz, Jaguar, Land Rover, SAAB,  Lexus and even mighty BMW feel somehow “less” than they did even ten years ago.

What’s happened?  Expansion happened.  Chasing volume happened.  Brands that meant something specific and clear found themselves needing to be “more.”

(more…)