Posted by Dale Buss on November 21, 2013 06:43 PM
The stream of brand news out of the Los Angeles Auto Show has never been stronger. More carmakers are using the exhibition as a launch platform. And while the vehicles and features they're choosing to introduce have a decidedly green tint, that's the way the industry is headed anyway.
As the event heads into the public-exhibition phase, which is expected to draw record attendance, the Los Angeles Auto Show today saw Honda Accord named "Green Car of the Year" by Green Car Journal, an increasingly sought-after designation in an era when alternative powertrains comprise much of the cutting edge of the auto business. The addition of hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of Accord helped seal the deal. Two diesel-powered cars, Audi A6 TDI and BMW 328d, were the other finalists.
Honda also drew interest with its sleek FCEV hydrogen-fuel-cell concept car. And executives announced that the 2014 Honda Civic compact will come equipped with a continuously variable transmission, a technology that smooths shifting as the car accelerates and saves fuel as well as boosts driving enjoyment.Continue reading...
Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 20, 2013 07:12 PM
John Lewis’ 2013 Christmas campaign in the UK, a seasonal rite of passage, is “a £7m multi-media festive extravaganza,” animated by Disney's Lion King artists and costing £1m alone.
It’s just one example of how high (and early) the bar is being set for branded holiday ads this year as shoppers around the world, weary from escalating costs-of-living and economic challenges, plan to spend only $800 this holiday season on gifts, down from $854 last year.
And so retailers are pulling out all the stops to get attention from consumers, hoping to draw them in with witty and charming ads and deep promotional discounts. UK advertisers alone are set to spend nearly $630 million on ads in the last three months of the year, while American brands got a head start, with Kmart airing its first holiday-related ad one-hundred days before Christmas. Indeed, advertisers seem to be heading back to the small-screen while maintaining a solid presence on social media to get the most out of holiday promotional efforts.
And that has led some brands to go above and beyond. From Kmart's controversial "Show Your Joe" ad to Best Buy and Marks & Spencer's celebrity-heavy campaigns, brands are working hard to get the attention of shoppers.
Here's some of the most extravagant holiday ads we've seen so far:Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on November 19, 2013 12:42 PM
California always has been the most important US auto market, but the Golden State now is beckoning in significant new ways. And auto brands are trying to address all of them as the media preview and then public exhibition near at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Tokyo is running its own biennial Motor Show this year almost in parallel with LA's, but the annual California platform is of greater overall interest to the global industry— especially to the Detroit Three carmakers, each of whose fortunes has picked up lately in the bellwhether state market. In fact, none of them are appearing at the Tokyo Show.
California also has taken on greater importance as the world's premier market for electric vehicles and other "green" auto technologies, both because of the early-adopter mentality of Californians and because of the state's stiffest-anywhere emissions laws, both of which compel carmakers to debut their most advanced vehicles there first. As the home of Silicon Valley, California also is taking on a greater role as automakers increasingly outfit vehicles with digital mobile technologies.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on November 18, 2013 09:14 AM
Forbes explores sale of 96-year-old magazine.
GM recalls Chevrolet Malibu for two defects as it plans to end brand confusion between Chevy and Opel in Europe and expects to get a leg up with 4G push.
Sony sells more than 1 million PS4s in first 24 hours.
Lily Allen's fashion brand goes into liquidation.
Apple reportedly acquires PrimeSense for $345 million.
BMW pioneers use of carbon fiber in i3.
Bacardi focuses on its brand resilience in new campaign.
Bloomberg makes newsroom cuts.
Boeing gets $95 billion in orders for new jet from Middle Eastern airllines.
China Airlines of Taiwan joins low-cost aviation market.
Cracker Barrel is too confusing to appear in supermarket for now, judge rules.
Daimler sets to take stake in Beijing Auto.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on November 14, 2013 10:49 AM
As recently as five years ago, Toyota was the unchallenged 800-pound gorilla of the global automotive business. Now after a few years that disproved its invincibility, the company finally looks menacing again to its competitors.
The company posted a 70 percent increase in third-quarter profit and once again is the world's largest car maker by number of vehicles sold, pushing 10 million units a year—a level no company yet has reached. It arguably finally has put behind it the series of crises that enveloped the company beginning in 2008, including the Great Recession, pricey yen, a recall and safety scandal, and some boring products.
And now, while he won't quite shout it from the top of a Tokyo skyscraper, President Akio Toyoda—grandson of the founder—has made it clear that Toyota "is finally ready to go on the offensive again," as Automotive News put it. At this point, the New York Times pointed out, Toyota clearly is ahead of Japan-based rivals Nissan and Honda in its recovery and growth.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on November 6, 2013 07:27 PM
An under-appreciated aspect of the car business these days is the continued boom in customizing. Between the strong recovery of "stock" car sales in the US market and hand-wringing about Millennials taking the zing out of car ownership, it's possible to lose track of the fact that, for many Americans, customizing—or "tuning"—their rides remains a driving passion.
That fact is being restored this week at the 47th annual Specialty Equipment Market Association show and convention in Las Vegas, which show organizers have said promises to be their biggest ever. It's only open to people in the auto business, not the public—but if the customizing crowd and original-equipment auto brands didn't know there was a still-growing crowd of enthusiasts to buy the wares they're displaying, they wouldn't bother.
So Ford, for instance, is crowing about seeing its Mustang and F-Series named "Hottest Car" and "Hottest Truck" of the show. More Mustangs and F-Series are on display on the show floor than any other car or truck, the company said, leading to the award—and testifying to the popularity and appeal of each vehicle. And indeed, F-Series trucks remain America's most popular vehicle, and Ford is expected to launch a new 50th-anniversary version of the iconic Mustang sports car next year.Continue reading...
Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 31, 2013 06:21 PM
The average American household will spend $44 on candy for Halloween this year, a total aggregated spend of more than $2 billion. And the top chocolate brands—Snickers, M&M's, and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups—won't be the only brands to benefit.
This year brings the usual bonanza of contests and antics from a broad swath of brands eager to show their playful—and spooky—sides.
From Google's witchy animation to FedEx's Zombie Survival Kit, here are a few that caught our eye:Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on October 30, 2013 05:44 PM
Honda has long been known for conservative vehicle styling and a steady-as-she-goes approach to building sales and market share, which has worked remarkably well over the decades.
But increasingly, Honda is the auto brand that is pushing the envelope with its marketing and advertising efforts in the US and elsewhere, taking flyers on damaged and strange platforms, producing some of the most notable new social media campaigns, and putting a lot of money and muscle behind a minivan segment that many automakers have written off. Year-to-date sales are up 9 percent, so something is working.
The latest examples include a new addition to its "Start Something Special" ad campaign that has been underscoring the relationships that people have with their Hondas. The brand has created a #StartSomething hashtag to invite stories by Honda fans that will be archived digitally and then evolve into efforts under the "Honda Loves You Back" program—what Honda marketing executive Michael Accavitti called "feel-good surprises we've orchestrated over the past few yeas to show gratitude to those who have expressed love for the brand."Continue reading...