Posted by Dale Buss on April 10, 2013 07:12 PM
Paying it forward and even Random Acts of Fusion are such five-minutes-ago concepts. Now Toyota, on behalf of its Prius Plug-in hybrid, has launched what it calls the Positive movement in the UK—the "movement brightening Britain with a car that runs on electricity, fuel and positivity," as a press release puts it.
Star of the "movement" is fashion blogger Caroline Burke, an expert in body art, fashion and beauty who's known as Burkatron. In a new film that Toyota has debuted as part of the campaign, Burkatron is seen outfitting random passers-by with fashion accessories and vintage finds in the Boxpark in East London.
"Caroline's blog is about sharing things, all to do with fashion," Mark Norcutt and Laurnce Quinn, Toyota creative directors at Saatchi & Saatchi, said in the release. "For her positive idea she used her contacts to donate clothes, then was able to go around and collect them all in the Prius"—all while, in another act of positivity, taking advantage of the car's zero emissions in the all-electric mode that has a range of up to 15.5 miles.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on April 9, 2013 05:37 PM
A series of bedrock presumptions has dominated successive eras of the US auto industry. The first one was that the domestic Big Three would be on top forever. A second and more recent "truth" was that Japanese imports were unbeatable.
Now, a third truth that has been part of the presumed backdrop of the industry for nearly a generation may be set to fall this year. That's because Toyota Camry and Honda Accord no longer are shoe-ins to be the best-selling mid-size cars in America for 2013.
They long have reigned; Camry has been America's best-selling car for 11 consecutive years, having taken over around the turn of the century from the Ford Taurus. The Honda Accord, through its various generations, typically was right on the heels of Camry, sales volume-wise. Other mid-size entries didn't stand a chance of matching them.
In the meantime, there's one sales title that none of the four mid-size sedans can aspire to: world's best-selling car. In 2012, Ford claimed that crown with various versions of its Focus, which easily beat out versions of the Toyota Corolla for the No. 1 spot. Ford executives have promised that the Focus would be a global nameplate, and they've made it one—the biggest one. Adding to that accolade, the Ford Fiesta is now the world's best-selling sub-compact.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on February 8, 2013 05:33 PM
A Ford ad ties into the NBC series The Smash. So far, the show has brought lackluster ratings.
The Middle, Smash and Portlandia offer three examples of the growing seamlessness between product/brand placement and the creative content of TV series.
On ABC's The Middle this week, the episode was practically an ode to two brands: iPad and Red Lobster. The youngest child in the Heck family, Brick, pines and pesters for an iPad until his parents, Frankie (played by Patricia Heaton) and Mike, finally relent and buy him a restored model on eBay. Until they do, a huge chunk of the script is devoted to Brick's description of the wonders of the iPad.
Much of the rest of the story depicts the family at a Red Lobster, naming the restaurant repeatedly and including a shot of a juicy lobster. (A Red Lobster ad also aired during the episode — though there was no commercial for iPad.)Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on February 7, 2013 03:33 PM
Ford executives credit their sustained commitment to improved fuel economy in gasoline powertrains for a huge part of their market-share gains since the depths of the Great Recession.
So they're not afraid to experiment with their investments in electrified vehicles, even though the auto industry as a whole is shying away from them these days.
This week, Ford announced that its new plug-in hybrids — Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi — will be added to the MyFord Mobile app, which currently works only with the Focus Electric. (The Focus Electric just earned a top federal safety rating.) Via MyFord Mobile, owners can find out about their vehicles' state of charge and the nearest available charging station. Another app, offerd by Plugshare.com, tells drivers whether stations charge for their juice, for example.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on December 6, 2012 06:45 PM
Just weeks after taking egg on the face again from Consumer Reports over its confusing MyFord Touch system, Ford again is a target of the influential consumer bible over mileage claims for its new hybrid vehicles.
According to Automotive News, Consumer Reports researchers found that the Ford Fusion hybrid delivered only 39 MPG in its real-word tests on the highway and in city driving, far short of the 47 MPG claimed by Ford for the model. And Consumer Reports said that the C-Max hybrid hit only a combined 37 MPG, far short of the 47 MPG Ford claims for it.
"These two vehicles have the largest discrepancy between our overall-mpg results and the estimates published by the EPA that we've seen among any current models," Consumer Reports noted. "Among current models, more than 80 percent of the vehicles we've tested are within 2 mpg."
A Ford spokesman told brandchannel that "driving styles, driving conditions, and other factors can cause mileage to vary." Ford's Fusion website puts an asterisk on the 47 mpg figure: *EPA-estimated 47 city/47 hwy/47 combined mpg. Actual mileage will vary.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on November 29, 2012 04:45 PM
More auto brands are jockeying to be able to take your pulse instead of quicken it when you drive. Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and other makes are joining Ford in developing, researching and — in some early cases — deploying body-monitoring technology that addresses everything from driver sleepiness to low blood sugar.
In-vehicle biometrics and telematics is an interesting trend at a time when some automakers continue to struggle to make the very basics of passenger-compartment information technology understandable and acceptable to vehicle owners, such as the controls for on-board audio systems and smartphone connections.
But at the risk of being left behind by some new technology applications that catches consumers' fancy, auto companies are combining major advances in their own electronics with leaps in medical-monitoring technology largely in the hopes of appealing to an aging population, as noted by the Wall Street Journal.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on September 18, 2012 12:53 PM
Just in case things get dicey once Mark Fields, Ford's presumptive next CEO, takes the reigns, Ford's board reportedly is considering keeping current CEO Alan Mulally around past his retirement as the non-executive chairman.
As skilled as is Fields, the 51-year-old head of Ford's Americas operations, you can't blame Ford's directors for not wanting to let Mulally go completely once he ends his tenure as CEO, with a rumored target for departure around the end of next year. The 67-year-old former chief of Boeing has worked wonders at the auto manufacturer since he took the helm in 2006, seeing it through the global financial collapse and Great Recession without a U.S.-government bailout, supervising the launch of a fleet of worthy new products, and guiding Ford into leadership positions in infotainment technology and fuel economy.
And though Fields may be champing at the bit, Mulally is hardly ready to ride into the sunset just yet. He's got Ford moving on a number of important ongoing and new initiatives. They include:Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on May 3, 2012 06:15 PM
Ford isn't obscuring its brand identity in its new "Go Further" campaign because executives are afraid of American consumers' preconceived notions about Ford. They're pretty happy with Ford's brand equity in its home country right now, thank you, after Ford relied on its own resources to lead the Detroit Three back to financial soundness and market-share gains over the last few years.
But Ford does want to tease viewers into taking a close look at the Ford products and features highlighted in the ad, unaffected by overall brand impressions. So Ford isn't named in the ad, and its iconic blue oval logo isn't shown either.
"The idea was to start out to get peple talking and then introduce slightly different versions of the ads later on, with Ford front and center," Mark Schirmer, a Ford marketing spokesman, told brandchannel. "It allows the product to shine without any feeling left, right up or down. There is no branding involved."Continue reading...