car talk

Auto Makers Roll Out More New Brands as Recovery Continues

Posted by Dale Buss on February 27, 2013 05:24 PM

The question of adding brands has become a hot topic for auto companies these days as they revisit strategies from before the Great Recession. Fiat, Chrysler and Volkswagen are among car makers that have become bullish on new brands while General Motors, Ford, Toyota and Hyundai are among competitors that haven't moved in that direction.

It didn't seem that this would be an issue as recently as three years ago. GM famously shed Saturn, Saab, Hummer and Pontiac (a few years after killing Oldsmobile) as it shrank down for the 2009 bailout, while Ford finally deep-sixed Mercury after decades of keeping it on life support. Going lean with brand architecture, the thinking was, would be the future as automakers focused on globalizing product platforms and marketing to keep things simpler, more cost-efficient and, they argued, less confusing to consumers.

Though lately, some players have been throwing that logic out the window—seemingly to good effect.

Chrysler, for instance, spinned off Ram from Dodge, began adding Fiat to its brand stable in the U.S., created an SRT performance sub-brand and announced that, soon, Fiat will be bringing Alfa Romeo to the United States again. Meanwhile, it has been bulking up its other brands with new products, such as Jeep, which just announced that it is resurrecting the venerable Cherokee nameplate for 2014. Continue reading...

car talk

Toyota, Japanese Brands Keep U.S. Down in Consumer Reports' "Best Cars" Rank

Posted by Dale Buss on February 26, 2013 07:22 PM

The good news for Detroit's three automakers is that Chevrolet and GMC managed to get some of their new models recommended by the influential Consumer Reports. The bad news is that just about every other brand fielded by General Motors, Ford and Chrysler is still placed near the bottom in the magazine's new rankings of the best light vehicles on the market.

Just like every year, the new rankings—listed in the April 2013 issue of Consumer Reports—finds that Japanese brands, especially those made by Toyota, continue to dominate. Toyota landed three of the top seven spots, with Lexus as CR's best overall brand as well as Toyota at No. 4 and Scion at No. 7.

Subaru and Mazda finished second and third while Acura and Honda finished fifth and sixth. Audi led its German rivals to finish No. 8, followed by Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz to round out the top 10. Continue reading...

brandcameo

Lana Del Rey Croons for Jaguar, Latest in Auto-Branded Video Boom

Posted by Abe Sauer on February 21, 2013 12:28 PM

To paraphrase Don Draper: At last, a beautiful product placement Jaguar can truly own.

And own it they do when it comes to the latest music video for Lana Del Rey's new track "Burning Desire."

"I drive fast / Wind in my hair / I push you to the limits / Cause I just don't care," sings Del Rey. With her on a dark lonely stage and a Jaguar F-type on a sunny lonely highway, the video might be something Don Draper and team would have cooked up themselves.

It's been nearly a year since Jaguar was ambushed with its unflattering product placement on Mad Men, where Jaguar was party to prostitution and a failed suicide attempt. Jag's appearance in Del Rey's "Burning Desire" video is the latest step on the march to the upcoming debut of the branded film, "Desire," which the luxury automaker is commissioning from director Ridley Scott's production company.

Everything old is new again as auto companies from Mercedes to Dodge are embracing the exploding auto-branded content format... again. Continue reading...

social media watch

UPDATE: Chrysler Yanks Tasteless Dodge "Viper Rides Meteor" Video

Posted by Dale Buss on February 15, 2013 05:32 PM

Two strikes and you're in the hole. That's where Chrysler stands with social-media mistakes today after the company took down (as we suspected they might) a timely but insensitive promotional video on YouTube that was first noted by brandchannel Editor-in-Chief Shirley Brady.

The four-second video depicted a Dodge Viper that had been edited into a video to look like it was riding on the meteor that exploded over Russia's Ural Mountains today with the power of an atomic bomb, its sonic blasts shattering countless windows and injuring about 1,100 people.

Titled "Viper Rides Meteor" on the Chrysler Group's PR-managed Pentastar Video YouTube channel today, the short clip came with the description: "Yeah ... it's that fast. The SRT Viper outraces that meteor :)" Actually, the pricey sports car has a top speed of about 206 mph, Road and Track says. Russian authorities estimated that today's meteor was traveling at about 30,000 to 45,000 mph when it cracked up.

A Chrysler source told brandchannel that the company was still investigating how the tasteless video percolated through internal procedures to reach its public YouTube channel. It's not the first time Chrysler has been so embarrassed on social media, either. In 2011, what Chrysler said was a compromised Twitter account led to a vulgar tweet that read, "Whoa -- What? RT @chryslerautos: I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f------ drive."

auto motive

Dodge Viper Shows Poor Timing and Taste With Russian Meteor Video

Posted by Shirley Brady on February 15, 2013 02:10 PM

Chrysler's Dodge Viper brand released a video titled "Viper Rides Meteor" on the Chrysler Group's Pentastar Video YouTube channel today, with the description: "Yeah...it's that fast. The SRT Viper outraces that meteor :)"

With more than 1,000 people injured, not to mention the brand's recall over airbags today, it's bad timing and taste for a video — let alone a smiley face. Watch it below.Continue reading...

super bowl

Super Bowl Ad Wrap-Up: Samsung Surges, VW and Ram Spots Endure

Posted by Dale Buss on February 8, 2013 05:57 PM

The NFL has moved on to preparations for this spring's draft. CBS is licking its wounds a bit after game ratings fell short of the 2012 Super Bowl. Beyonce has moved on to begin her new world tour. Even the city of New Orleans is trying to move on from Super Bowl XLVII, taking credit for throwing a great party while deflecting blame for the power outage that left half the stadium in the dark for more than a half hour during the third quarter of the game.

And the brands that famously advertised on CBS during the Super Bowl? Many are still trying to leverage the marketing platforms they launched in association with the game, while others are still defending themselves. And all are trying to figure out what they did right or wrong, memorable or forgettable, to apply to the next go-round: Super Bowl XLVIII on Fox.

Among the biggest group of advertisers, car companies, Lincoln, Hyundai and Toyota have been generating some of the most impressive follow-up interest from consumers, based on the findings of analysts of online traffic. Samsung's ad featuring comedians Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen discussing the conventions of Super Bowl ads (above) now tops viral interest, according to some measures, squeezing past Toyota's pre-game lead in online buzz among Super Bowl advertisers.Continue reading...

super bowl

Analysis: To Succeed With 'Farmer,' Ram Must Acknowledge U.S. Diversity, Reality

Posted by Abe Sauer on February 6, 2013 11:59 AM

A Latino advocacy group's sendup of "God Made a Farmer" adds images of Latinos to the mix. Is Ram listening?

The Ram brand has seen a boost following its Super Bowl ad. Autotrader.com reported a 55 percent increase in search activity for Ram, the trucks division of Chrysler's Dodge; the official YouTube video of the ad had registered more than 6 million views by Wednesday morning, along with more than 12,000 comments. "God Made a Farmer" seems to be this year's "Imported From Detroit."

Ram's site dedicated to the campaign, which declares 2013 the "Year of the Farmer," expands well beyond the Paul Harvey-narrated ad with a section on the late radio broadcaster himself, and information on Future Farmers of America and campaign partner Farms.com (which made a 2011 ad almost identical to Ram's). The site also pledges Ram will make donations to FFA and to "assist in local hunger and educational programs" each time the "Farmer" video is watched or shared, or when a social media badge depicting farmer life is shared.

But the campaign could easily lose its power if Ram doesn't capitalize on it — probably in unplanned ways.Continue reading...

super bowl

Ram Truck Ad Wins Praise, But That God-Made Farmer Looks Awfully Familiar

Posted by Sheila Shayon on February 4, 2013 05:42 PM

Chrysler's Super Bowl ad for its Dodge Ram truck, which features a lengthy paen to farmers by the late radio commentator Paul Harvey over gripping photos of their lives, has been received warmly across the twitterverse.

You may have seen something quite like it on the web long before Sunday, however.Continue reading...

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