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 May 1, 2013 04:47 PM
Ford has been waiting months to mount a more rigorous defense of its botched handling of the crucial launch of the Lincoln MKZ, and finally today's monthly sales numbers provided the company with the ammunition to do so: Sales of the radically restyled new version of MKZ more than doubled from the old version sold in April 2012 to more than 4,000 units.
It's impossible to say yet whether last month's performance represented the beginning of a long-term upswing in the nameplate's fortunes after the brand suffered quite a rough start as it tried to launch the new version, suffering from supply and quality problems. But it's a good start in getting away from the dismal position in which Ford found its launch reputation, and its rebirthed Lincoln brand, about a month ago. Ford's overall sales for the month rose by 18 percent over a year ago, part of a good total month for the US industry, while Lincoln's total sales rose by 21 percent.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on April 10, 2013 09:17 AM
Chrysler recalls more than 214,000 vehicles.
JCPenney acting CMO Sergio Zyman canvasses adland for marketing help as Macy's/Martha Stewart trial rolls on.
GM returns to Facebook advertising with mobile test for Chevy Sonic as it provokes unionists in Korea with talk about pullout, and Facebook widens data targeting for advertisers.
Aereo finds broadcasters circling the wagons against its streaming model.
Apple and Yahoo discuss deeper iPhone partnership, WSJ says.
Beech-Nut teams with Goya to launch Hispanic baby food line.
Behr launches social media program to market paint.
Cablevision Systems gives more responsibilities to wife of CEO.
Cannes Lions Festival adds jury on Branded Content and Entertainment.
Chili's begins marketing pizza nationwide.
Facebook has yet to monetize billion-dollar Instagram acquisition.
Fiat becomes more reliant on US and Asia for growth.
Fisker Automotive prepares to file under Chapter 11 soon.
Frontier Airlines may be on the block, WSJ says.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on March 7, 2013 07:27 PM
Is the glass half-empty or half-full for the new Lincoln MKZ? It really doesn't matter—Lincoln dealers and many customers remain eager to get their hands on the short-of-supply MKZ as quickly as they can.
Still, there's the intriguing possibility that the current shortages of the first of the completely new line of Lincoln vehicles will end up enhancing Lincoln's brand equity, at least in the long run.
For now, Lincoln and MKZ clearly remain in a fix. After a months-long brand-repositioning effort that began last fall and has involved everything from Abraham Lincoln in TV commercials to dredging up of the old Lincoln Motor Company name for the division, Lincoln made a big and successful splash last month with a couple of Super Bowl commercials. Lincoln has followed that up with its buzz-worthy "Sound and Vision" project with Beck, re-imagining David Bowie in a sound-immersive concert facilitated with state-of-the art technology.
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...
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...
Posted by Abe Sauer on February 22, 2013 11:38 AM
It's a rough start when your new China spokesman is banned from China—but it appears Cadillac is going ahead with a new deal to make Brad Pitt its face in the world's fastest growing auto market.
Though with sales plunging in China and Audi and BMW eating its lunch, the brand needs to do something. It's too bad that even Brad Pitt won't likely be able to sell the Chinese an angry car they don't want.
Cadillac's new $3 million dollar endorsement with Pitt (Bradillac?) may add some perspective to Pitt's recent, less than smooth entry to Chinese social media. In January, Pitt joined microblogging platform Weibo and posted "Yep, it is the truth. I am coming…"
The news was forwarded tens of thousands of times by those wondering if China's ban on the actor—following his film "Seven Years in Tibet"—had been lifted. Just a few weeks later, Pitt's account disappeared. It's unclear if the actor himself deleted it or if Weibo shut it down, something the platform is wont to do. Continue reading...
Posted by Shirley Brady on February 10, 2013 09:04 PM
In addition to new campaigns for Ford's "Hello Again" music project for the Lincoln brand and Kraft's "We are the World"-like music video for its Miracle Whip dressing during the Grammy Awards telecast on CBS, a host of other brands used the post-Super Bowl platform to make some noise.
Anheuser Busch InBev's Bud Light Platinum debuted its new new campaign by its new "creative director," Justin Timberlake, while Target also used the Grammys to kick off its tie-in with the singer's new album and promote its tie-ins with singer Pink and fashion designer Prabal Gurung:Continue reading...