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Turnaround Engineer: 5 Questions with Prius US Brand Manager Erica Gartsbeyn

Posted by Dale Buss on October 2, 2014 10:48 AM

Toyota has begun executing one of the most significant turnarounds ever attempted for its iconic Prius brand, and Erica Gartsbeyn is in charge of making the new positioning work in a market that has seen interest wane in the vehicle and category.

In the next year or two, Toyota plans to unveil a significantly improved Prius family, with overhauled exterior design and improved electric- gas powertrain. But in the meantime it'll be up to Gartsbeyn, who is vehicle marketing and communications manager for Prius, and her colleagues to attempt to reverse the brand's 11-percent year-to-date sales decline in the United States.

Toyota also is more willing than before to make deals in the showroom for its Prius family: the regular model, the larger v, the smaller c and the plug-in.

The brand's current campaign, "Let's Lead the Way," underscores what Prius has accomplished in establishing the US market for hybrids as well as highlights aspects of the car and the brand family that are underappreciated by those who don't share the high "green" motivations of the main Prius customer base.

In one of its TV ads, "Family Portrait," a character discusses the hybrid's durability, with a voiceover intoning, "Sometimes the most daring ideas are the ones you can count on the most." A real Prius owner featured in one of a trio of onliine-only ads says she is "pleasantly surprised at the power Prius had." In another testimonial, a firefighter whose family owns two Prius models says, "I honestly feel very safe in this car."

Gartsbeyn shared the brand's US turnaround strategy with brandchannel.Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: Pepsi True, Netflix, Tesla and more

Posted by Dale Buss on October 2, 2014 07:14 AM


PepsiCo launches Pepsi True "mid-cal" as new salvo in cola wars, exclusively at first on Amazon.

Netflix books Adam Sandler for four movies while France's Orange plans to market the service in November.

Ford partners with culture brands and publishers to create "road trips" for new Mustang.

Volkswagen, Porsche and Lamborghini roll out plug-in hybrids in Paris.

Tesla hints at timing for unveiling Model "D."Continue reading...

auto motive

Ready to Get Tough, Barra Presents Her Way Forward for GM

Posted by Dale Buss on October 1, 2014 06:07 PM

There are reasons that General Motors CEO Mary Barra just appeared on the cover of Time magazine as "The Mechanic" and told the Wall Street Journal in an interview that she needs to be "tougher." She's ready to lead the company into the future and change the conversation from one about safety recalls to one about her exciting new strategic plan.

At a meeting of investors and financial analysts today at GM's HQ in Detroit, Barra and her executive leadership team outlined the automaker's new corporate strategy—a way forward that counts on a steady stream of new cutting-edge, technology-packed models to drive sales growth and profitability in the United States and China over the next four years in an effort to become the world's "most valued" automaker by early in the next decade.

"Our strategic plan is a pathway to earn customers for life and create significant shareholder value in the process," Barra stated. "Every chance to connect with the customer is an opportunity to build a stronger relationship."

Key to those plans, she said, was to invest in the Cadillac brand, which plans to introduce four new models in North America in 2015 and nine new models over the next five years in China—a crucial market for the company.Continue reading...

auto motive

Cars Will Glitter In City of Lights, But Paris Show Finds Automakers Gloomy

Posted by Dale Buss on October 1, 2014 05:33 PM

A year ago, global auto executives all knew they'd be in Paris for the auto show this week. But they didn't think they'd be feeling so gloomy in the City of Lights.

A once-nascent European auto sales recovery has sputtered, casting a pall over the Paris Motor Show, where brands nevertheless plan to dazzle one another, automotive journalists, enthusiasts and rank-and-file Parisians with glittering new models and confident projections of new technologies, new designs, new colors and other features of coming and prospective new models.

After sales contracted for six straight years to a two-decade low in 2013, European carmakers believed earlier this year that a true recovery was taking hold. But sales in the market grew by only 1.8 percent in August over the year earlier, the smallest monthly increaese this year, and fourth-quarter deliveries are expected to decline by 0.3 percent.

"The outlook for Europe on the whole is darkening," Stefan Bratzel, an automotive expert at tyhe Center of Automotive Management in Germany, told Bloomberg. Dimmer prospects "make me wonder if European car demand will manage to be positive for the year as a whole."Continue reading...


Clorox Brings Twitter-Powered Safe Water to Peru via SXSW Eco

Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 1, 2014 05:22 PM

Now in its fourth year, SXSW Eco is about to kick-off with some social-savvy brand participants.

Clorox is testing a Twitter-powered water dispenser to raise awareness and funds for its Safe Water Project.

The two-year-old initiative helps deliver 400,000 liters of safe drinking water daily through public bleach dispensers to more than 25,000 people in rural Peru, where one in seven people don't have access to safe water. 

For each tweet with the hashtag #safewaterproject, Clorox will donate $1—enough to provide safe water to a Peruvian for four months. It hopes to raise $2,000 at the environmentally-focused conference and $20,000 through the end of the year.Continue reading...

branded content

Bonin Bough Explains Mondelez Branded Video Partnership with Google

Posted by Dale Buss on October 1, 2014 03:44 PM

Mondelez has been a game-changer in branded content with everything from Oreo's Twitter account to its creative campaign to promote the Cadbury Creme Egg. Now Mondelez wants to blow the doors off its competition in a vast global, strategic partnership with Google and its YouTube unit that will result in 10 percent of the snack maker's total advertising budget going to online video this year.

The agreement, which Business Insider says should "terrify" traditional TV broadcasters, includes a substantial advertising commitment by Mondelez and assistance from Google offices around the world to help Mondelez and its family of brands distribute timely, relevant, engaging and diverse branded-video content on YouTube that will create a return on investment for Mondelez and fuel sales growth of its products.

"There are three pillars to this," Bonin Bough, vice president of global media and consumer engagement for Mondelez, told brandchannel. "First is that it will provide deeper integration of the insights that Google has around branded video and bring it closer to ours. At the scale Google operates what you could call the largest TV channel in the world, with teams all over the world, they can deploy these insights quickly."Continue reading...

cause marketing

Breast Cancer Awareness: NFL Goes Pink (Again), Social Icons Go Bust

Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 1, 2014 02:12 PM

It's been 22 years since Evelyn Lauder created the annual Breast Cancer Awareness month of October, and once again, the NFL is going pink, in what some may see as a Hail Mary response to the league's domestic violence crisis—even though this has been an ongoing partnership.

Kicking off today, the NFL, its clubs, players, the NFL Players Association and the American Cancer Society, launched A Crucial Catch, a month-long public affairs campaign focused on promoting annual screenings for women, a key target demographic for the sport.

October 25th, designated as A Crucial Catch Day, will see US-wide health events provide free, breast cancer education and screenings, while NFL players, coaches and referees will don pink game apparel. Special pink footballs and coins will be sold at an NFL auction with proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society’s Community Health Advocates National Grants for Empowerment (CHANGE) program.

While other brands, such as Nestle, have the latitude to have fun by introducing a "bra cam" this year, continuing a meme started with last year's "tweeting bra" campaign, the NFL is coming under particular scrutiny for its breast cancer tie-in this year, especially after fighting claims last year of so-called "pinkwashing."Continue reading...

sporting brands

Derek Jeter's Next Act: Publisher and Digital Storyteller

Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 1, 2014 11:13 AM

Derek Jeter’s charmed baseball career just ended on Sunday, but the 40-year-old is wasting no time before making his next move. He announced Wednesday the creation of The Players’ Tribune, a multimedia digital platform that will help pro athletes tell their stories.

"I do think fans deserve more than ‘no comments’ or ‘I don’t knows,’” Jeter (who calls himself founding publisher) wrote in a welcome note. “We want to have a way to connect directly with our fans, with no filter.”

Billed as "The Voice of the Game," the site won’t be filled with just pro baseball players, but star athletes from a variety of sports, a press release promises. The content will range “from first-person written features to videos, podcasts, photo galleries, polls and more, and will cover topics from sports commentary to lifestyle and popular culture.” The list of other athletes involved will be announced in the next few weeks.Continue reading...

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