Automotive: April 2006 Archives

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The VW Jetta: Safe Happens

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In an earlier , I commented on how impressed I was with DDB Canada's Drinking Driving Counterattack campaign on drunk driving. That's why I was surprised to see the most recent Volkswagon Jetta commercial that looks eerily similar to the Drinking Driving Counterattack spot.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I can't imagine how Volkswagon's new tagline, Safe happens, could be more flattering to the Drinking Driving Counterattack campaign.

View the new Jetta spot below.

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  • - Interesting blog on exactly what readers read when they pull up your web page. Crucial brand research for the web generation.
  • - This famous name from McDonald's past life is now gone. The Mayor's name was a sort of weird miracle of brand naming, and one of Ronald's best friends.
  • - The Pontiac Solstice takes center stage in a New Comic called "The Rush", a traditional and excellent way of placing a brand name among hip consumers.

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China Is Developing Its Own Brand Names

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SAIC logoIf there are three things one can be sure about in the future, they are as follows: we will be taxed, we will die, and we will see new Chinese car brands in the next four years.

I found it interesting that state-controlled SAIC Motor Corp, which partners with VW and GM in China, is to launch its own auto brands. The new brand name is not out yet, but they already have a first run slated of 600,000 by 2010.

Ultimately, they plan on pumping out over 2 million cars per year shortly thereafter, and will probably need some brand architecture thinking. SAIC will be using technology purchased from MG Rover to make the new cars.

Watch this space, because whatever brand SAIC introduces is sure to be a winner.

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Toyota Introduces New Inexpensive Chinese Brands

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ToyotaToyota is aggressively looking toward the Chinese market, on offering a new cheap and cheerful car brand name in the coming months for Chinese consumers. The company, which will soon surpass General Motors in sales, would experience a "quantum leap" in sales if the Chinese brands take hold.

I think some in the industry wonder if Toyota will enter China using new brand names altogether, fearing that selling inexpensive cars to the Chinese could diminish the Toyota brand name. Toyota did just that as it entered the luxury and youth markets in the U.S. with Lexus and Scion, respectively.

One thing is certain I'm sure: Toyota will face stiff challenges from Chinese car manufacturers who will not easily hand over this burgeoning market to the Japanese.

As I noted in an earlier blog post, Product Naming: China Wants Your Brand, the Chinese already have the Chery brand name and are aggressively looking to switch from being supplier of choice to foreign companies to offering consumers worldwide interesting, inexpensive Chinese brands that compete with the big guys. I'm sure they will not stand by idly while Toyota takes over their home market.

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DurangoAt least one feels that we do in fact assign genders to products in the process of naming brands.

  • The Ford Bronco is clearly a masculine name while the Toyota Sequoia is more feminine.
  • The name Durango is also masculine (names ending in “o” in Spanish are masculine).

The article talks about the “leakage” of gendered words into English. Makita Power Tools - whose target market is predominately male but whose name sounds female - had a hurdle to overcome when they came to the U.S. I think that we in the product naming business have been purposely gendering products for years to appeal to the correct target market, and language leakage is only a part of this.

It is no secret that a car like the Jeep Wrangler is clearly designed for the male target market, while the Renault Clio is much more feminine and demure. My recent on HERO Honda’s motorcycle names also shows the increasing moodiness of the male mind when it comes to their favorite brands.

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