May 15, 2012
Ford's new slogan, "Go Further" will replace its "Drive One" message while also making an interesting move in de-emphasizeing its brand name and logo in advertising.
This effort to de-emphasize the name is fairly radical as Ford has aways been very straightforward about its brand name (the F series truck is the best selling vehicle in the U.S. and of course "F" stands for "Ford").
Ford is trying to "overcome negative perceptions" about its name and get people to pay attention to the cars and the marketing. One Ford executive says, "As soon as people see the badges they jump to conclusions about the brand."
As a response to consumer research that showed people liking the products more when they did not know where they came from, Ford unveiled a week of nameless advertising starting April 30. These nameless ads generated 3.4 million consumer views online.
Despite consumer intrigue, Ford reintroduced the name and logo in its advertising a week later.
The new "Go Further" advertising will target the "skeptics" who see Ford as a less than stellar brand when it comes to quality and fuel consumption, areas where Toyota and Honda dominate.
They are not creating a "new reality" for the company, says another executive, but instead are documenting the "goodness in the company already."
The idea is that Ford is so well known - but so misrepresented - that the brand can now quietly reposition itself. Will this happen without constant reminders to consumers about who they are? Time will tell.
March 21, 2012
I'm thrilled to see that the Datsun will make a comeback... and not as a zombie brand but as a division of Nissan.
The brand name dates back to 1931 and was a marketing coup for the Japanese company who used it as leverage to enter the Southern California market during the 60s and 70s.
The company's legendary success is greatly due to the 102-year-old Japanese marketing genuis Yutaka Katayama, who launched the name in the U.S. with a budget of $1,000.
Nissan discontinued the Datsun name - which was synonymous with cheap but sporty cars - to corral all the models under the Nissan name by 1989 they launched the upscale Infiniti brand.
Datsun cars will not be sold in the U.S., however, while the brand name will be launched in India, Indonesia and Russia. This keeps the positioning of Nissan from mid-to-high end, but allows the company to offer vehicles to first time buyers in developing countries.
Nissan Motor Co. Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn announced that the first new Datsun will stay true to the company's origins as a "green car, affordable car, small displacement, high local content. It's going to be a generous car."
Nissan expects to grab 8% of the global market by 2016 selling cars priced under $10,000. But one analyst says he is not convinced because "They haven't even achieved a solid brand identity for Nissan yet. It's going to be a bumpy road."
As for a possible relaunch in the U.S. in the future, Ghosn says "The name has been gone so long it doesn't carry any huge nostalgia."
March 20, 2012
I think it is fascinating that NBA phenomena Jeremy Lin has signed a two year contract to be the face of Volvo.
You remember Volvo, right? This was the Swedish company that was acquired by the Chinese carmaker Geely.
The Lin marketing campaign will focus on the U.S. and China as well as "Chinese-language markets in Asia."
Lin is more than simply a basketball star, he has become a Linsation.
Lin, the only NBA player with a Harvard degree, is the "pride of the whole Chinese population" says Freeman Shen, the senior vice president of the Volvo Car Corporation and head of the company's China operations.
Volvo's willingness to use Lin means that they are also willing to subtly remind customers that Volvo - an iconic Swedish brand if there ever was one - is now a Chinese brand, thank you very much.
This move comes as basketball becomes more and more popular in China, and as the Volvo brand enters a period of "brand rejuvenation," with its "Designed Around You" concept.
We might be witnessing a turning of the corner for Chinese car makers, who might want to cash in on the quality of their cars and not hide behind former European brand names.
Could it be that in a few more years the Swedish heritage of Volvo will be swept under the rug? Is the world ready for a proud Chinese car brand? If Lin is the face of it, I guess so.
March 9, 2012
This is a company that has used social media to an incredible effect, think 3.3 million friends on Facebook. Harley Davidson is doing so with the help of Fan Machine, a Facebook app that lets people rate, review, and offer suggestions on Harley Davidson advertising.
The new viral campaign "E. Pluribus Unum" or "Out of many, one," that claims there is no stereotypical Harley rider anymore, is part of the "No Cages" slogan campaign which emphasizes Harley riders and also the new Seventy-Two Sportster model.
You can also submit ideas, pictures or videos to Harley via Twitter at #StereotypicalHarley and a microsite where you get an assortment of Harley riders.
Harley is proclaiming the fact that they are no longer a niche brand and are selling more motorcycles to today's Millennial generation than the Baby Boomer's generation of young adults.
Interestingly enough, one biker points out that the campaign "No Cages" actually misuses the term "cage" as a "true motorcyclist" would understand it
He points out that The Motorcycle Dictionary has the word "cage" meaning
"Cage - A car, truck, or van. The sworn enemy of motorcyclists, more commonly known as automobiles. The name stems from being all cooped up inside a closed shell, with no contact with the outside air."
"Cager - A person driving a car, truck, or van. Cage operator, or driver."
The ad behind the "No Cages" campaign expanded the term "cage" beyond its original context to mean no limitations in life, not just the cage of a car, truck or van.
If anyone is going to get dibbs on redefining a motorcycling term, it's Harley.
February 28, 2012
It's finally here - the BMW "i."
No, not the hoary "i" found at the end of model numbers that stands for "fuel injection."
Now the "i" is in front of the model number, and is there to "designate the company's new line of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles." The first two models, the i3 and the i8, were debuted in Frankfurt last year.
The futuristic looking, zero emissions cars are priced around $35,000.
Look for a launch in 2013 under the theme "Born Electric," which one blogger says "Aligns well to the components of electric motors, power electronics and lithium-ion batteries."
The Born Electric tagline is being used to great effect on the BMW i website.
Many people may associate the tagline with the famous song "Born Free" but the ad references the concept of "visionary mobility," which Motor Trend has caught on to, asking us "Are you excited about the future of small electric cars or is BMW targeting a future that doesn't exist?"
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