start your engines
Posted by Dale Buss on May 2, 2013 05:27 PM
With their racing heritage and ongoing participation in the sport, Mercedes-Benz and BMW know something about keeping close competitors in their rear-view mirrors. That's why it may take more than a new branding campaign for Lexus—which also races—to take back its US luxury-market leadership from its German rivals this year.
BMW took the American luxury-segment crown away from Lexus in 2011, when the Toyota-owned brand was dealing with short supplies after the earthquake and tsunmi in Japan, and the German brand has held on to it for the last two years. There's been a lot of speculation that Lexus might be able to regain the No. 1 spot in the segment this year because its supply situation is now fully resolved, and it's got some new products.
But that isn't happening—at least not yet. And actually, in April, Mercedes-Benz strengthened its 2013 lead over BMW in the segment, having finished in second place behind BMW for each of the last two full years. In April, the Mercedes brand widened its sales lead to nearly 4,700 vehicles for the year to date over BMW, with nearly 93,000 sold to BMW's more than 88,000.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on April 29, 2013 05:53 PM
The box-office launch for Iron Man 3 is about as promising as Tony Stark's next invention. The three-quel in Disney and Marvel's series about the tech-happy superhero and his industrialist alter ego blitzed competitors with its overseas opening last weekend, taking a $195-million bow while soaring past last year's $185-million overseas debut of The Avengers.
As the movie starring Robert Downey Jr. in the returning title role prepares for its US opening this weekend, the hearty franchise is getting an assist from another returning member of the "cast": the Audi R8 sports car. The German luxury brand placed a version of its R8 in the first and second Iron Man films; this time around Stark's main drive is the all-electric R8 e-tron which has gone into only limited actual production.
"Stark and his passion for innovative technology, his sophisticated wit and his character overall are great representatives for our brand," Drew Elliott, social-media specialist for Audi of America, told brandchannel.Continue reading...
brands under fire
Posted by Dale Buss on April 25, 2013 07:01 PM
The recent, cartoonish prospective print ads by Ford's agency in India—depicting Silvio Berlusconi and Paris Hilton as heartless kidnappers—turned out to be mere child's play in the modern universe of tin-eared automotive marketing. Hyundai has just set the bar at a new low with an online ad in Europe for its iX35 fuel-cell car, which depicts a suicide attempt in the car—which eventually fails because of the vehicles clean emissions.
The spot by Innocean, Hyundai's agency of record because it is owned by Hyundai, shows a man sitting in the driver's seat of a Hyundai in his garage, having made all the necessary preparations for offing himself by breathing in carbon monoxide. But, despite the foreboding music, it doesn't work. The commercial shows a tube—run into the passenger compartment from the exhaust pipe—emitting what looks like smoke but turns out to be vapor, as the car runs on "100-percent water emissions," a tagline informs the viewer. The guy is out of luck.
Hyundai today pulled the ad (which was posted last week) from YouTube, but it has gone wildly viral and enraged the brand's fans and non-fans the world over. "Hyundai understands the video has caused offense," Hyundai Europe said in a statement (update: scroll down for additional statements). "We apologize unreservedly. The video has been taken down and will not be used in any of our advertising or marketing."Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on April 24, 2013 11:42 AM
It's one thing for Lexus to become a more American brand by building vehicles here, which has been announced in recent days, but a bigger challenge might be recasting the Toyota-owned luxury brand as an aspirational marque for younger consumers.
That is Lexus's goal, and it's in the midst of rolling out a number of initiatives to attempt to achieve that.
The brand plans a rollout of a new global marketing campaign in May under the fresh tagline, "Amazing in Motion." It is emphasizing mold-breaking exterior design for the first time in Lexus history, especially through the introduction of a so-called spindle hourglass-shaped grille. And it is even taking a page from a brand as far afield as GQ, by opening a new series of Intersect by Lexus meeting places in Tokyo, Dubai and New York starting this summer.Continue reading...
Posted by Abe Sauer on April 24, 2013 10:47 AM
The upcoming re-imagined Great Gatsby 3D has a slew of roaring '20s brands going along for the ride. Moet & Chandon and MAC Cosmetics are listed among the film's partners in its official "Guide to Style." As is New York's Plaza Hotel, which will "celebrate the Roaring `20s with period-inspired affairs throughout the spring," while Brooks Brothers has released a special Gatsby collection. While not listed in the film's official style guide, Prada has its own major partnership and Gatsby-inpired line. Tiffany & Co. has embraced its tie-in as well.
But one needn't be at entertainment's high-end to grab a fashion line tie-in. Clothing brand Opening Ceremony partnered with Spring Breakers to release a line based on the exploitation film: "Accessories include unicorn bandanas, mesh backpacks, lighters, cotton beach towels, 'HARMONY' friendship bracelets, and 'SPRING BREAK 4EVER BITCHES' wristbands."
It's all part of a booming product placement business that grew 11.7 percent in 2012 and promises to get bigger this year.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on April 23, 2013 08:02 PM
It was inevitable that, as infotainment has risen in importance as a consideration for auto purchase, the value of the "info" part of infotainment would rise as well.
Now, that evolution has reached a likely and logical next step: Infiniti is making the information core of its concierge "personal assistant" service available to you even if you choose not to buy or drive an Infiniti.
The Nissan-owned luxury make, newly under the global leadership of Johan de Nysschen, has been telling dealers to give out free access to the Infiniti Personal Assist service as a tool to stimulate floor traffic, according to Automotive News. Dealers have been authorized to sign up showroom visitors for free 60-day trial subscriptions to the feature even if they have no interest in buying an Infiniti.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on April 22, 2013 07:36 PM
As Chinese consumers begin filtering into the Shanghai Auto Show this week, their desires and intentions are being dissected in every possible way by auto brands from around the globe that don't want to blow it in the world's largest auto market.
Behind the phalanx of new sheet metal, new brands, larger and more luxurious vehicles than before and, of course, ubiquitous, western-style fashion models adorning the platforms where the cars are displayed, European, American, Korean, Japanese and domestic Chinese brands are grappling with various approaches to a handful of key issues about the market in China.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on April 18, 2013 08:02 PM
There remain obstacles in doing it, but there's no denying the strong rush of foreign upscale automakers that are announcing plans to expand production in the United States these days.
Toyota is expected to confirm on Friday morning that it is moving production of its Lexus ES from southern Japan to Georgetown, Ky.; Nissan is looking to build a second US plant for its Infiniti brand, which already makes the JX SUV in Tennessee; and German luxury automakers each in their own ways are expanding American manufacturing footprints that used to be mainly afterthoughts. Mainstream players are participating in the trend too, such as Subaru, which is set to expand US production, presumably at its existing plant in Indiana.
For Toyota, one of the keys to its Lexus decision was several years of appreciation in the value of the yen, which made Japan manufacturing cost-prohibitive. Another key in the Lexus decision was recognition that, after decades of closing the gap, the quality standards apparent in US manufacturing by all brands, and by American workers, finally rivaled those established by Japan in the 80s.Continue reading...