Posted by Barry Silverstein on September 18, 2012 11:56 AM
London may have been the Olympic city this past summer, but it was also "Audi City." The German luxury car brand launched its first digital showroom in London, just in time for the Olympics, pitching it in a movie-style trailer. The innovative concept was designed to digitally present Audi's entire line of cars in a compact space, using such "groundbreaking media technology," says Audi, as the ability for visitors to "digitally select their vehicle from several hundred million possible configurations and experience it in realistic 1:1 scale on screens that almost fill the entire space." More Audi Cities are coming soon.
Audi didn't start the trend of marketing cars in big city downtown areas, however. In May, BMW opened its first "BMW Brand Store" in metropolitan Paris, positioning it as "Future Retail." Unlike the Audi concept, real cars appear in the Paris space, along with an employee BMW unashamedly refers to as a "product genius" in a nod to Apple's retail concept, the "Genius Bar."
Not to be outdone, the iconic Rolls-Royce brand, a motorcar brand many might consider ultra-stodgy, is making a few breakthrough moves of its own. The venerable Rolls-Royce brand, has been around since 1904, but the British icon clearly don't want to be left behind in the 21st Century. In the fourth quarter, Rolls-Royce plans to open a boutique — don't call it a showroom — at Rama 3 in Bangkok, Thailand.
Rolls-Royce already has a Bangkok showroom, but the boutique, the first of its kind to be located in an upscale shopping mall, will feature additional products. Still, why open a "boutique" in Bangkok?Continue reading...
Posted by Abe Sauer on September 17, 2012 11:07 AM
"Car destruction ahead. Japanese made cars should turn around now."
So read the warning on a flattened cardboard box one Chinese man held up to traffic in the city of Xian. The man's advice was not based on fearful speculation either, as cities across China erupted in anti-Japanese protests over the weekend (including, The Economist notes, about 3,000 at the Japanese Consulate in Shanghai on Sunday), Japan's auto brands were bracing for the backlash. One man set his own Honda Civic on fire in front of a dealership. One of the more moving photos shared on social media was of a young woman, weeping as she begged protesters to spare her car.
Targeting Japanese products for boycott or destruction is nothing new in China. But this weekend's actions — sparked by ownership dispute over islands between the two nations — were especially dire, called the worst flare-up of tensions between the nations in decades by The New York Times. As Japanese companies ordered their workers to stay home and closed their factories over fear of reprisals, what's unknown is the degree to which Japanese brands have been hurt in China's marketplace.Continue reading...
Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 13, 2012 10:01 AM
“UNIQLO Lucky Cube with Maru” (you know — Maru, Japan's Garfield turned YouTube and web sensation) is one of the ways UNIQLO USA is celebrating the fall openings of new stores in San Francisco and New Jersey.
The brand’s first West Coast flagship store, 111 Powell Street in San Francisco's Union Square, opens on October 5th. “San Francisco has always been a place of creativity, diversity, and social innovation,” stated UNIQLO USA’s COO Yasunobu Kyogoku. “In this same spirit, UNIQLO takes pride in developing innovative technology to create high-quality casual basics that are not only functional, but also affordable.”
Fans in the Bay Area can win blimp rides, merchandise and other prizes by playing with the You Tube Japanese cat sensation and the game is available now through October 14th on UNIQLO’s website, and via Facebook and Twitter.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on September 11, 2012 06:33 PM
Just in time to further boost Toyota's comeback in the U.S. market, the Toyota brand has come up with a new tagline — "Let's Go Places" — that it's promoting starting today on its website and other messaging.
As an exercise in gauging the wisdom of switching to a new advertising slogan, quick — what has Toyota's tagline been lately? Of course, this lack of memorability of its marketing message is one big reason for Toyota's new move. It's been "Moving Forward" since 2004.
Another reason is that the automaker wanted to reflect what it called, in a statement, its "commitment to more exciting products." Over the last several years, a paucity of new sheetmetal, and the relative lack of excitement created by the new products Toyota did introduce, have been as responsible for the brand's swoon in the U.S. market as its 2010 troubles with recalls and its problems last year as a result of the earthquake and tsunami.Continue reading...
Posted by Shirley Brady on August 14, 2012 08:56 AM
Apple rumor created by Swedes as a prank goes viral.
BP nets $2.5bn in deal to sell Californian refinery business and Arco brand.
Canada's media ownership concentration criticized in new report.
Chad Johnson negates powerful personal brand as VH1 series cancelled.
Cosmopolitan founder Helen Gurley Brown passes, remembered, at 90.
Dewar's global brand ambassador chats with the New York Times.
Ford banks on 2013 Fiesta.
GE and Chobani take gold in Ace Metrix Olympics ad ranker.
HarperCollins plans pop-up record store to promote new book.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on August 13, 2012 03:22 PM
Japan's automakers are moving more and more of their "crown jewels" to the U.S. market, which promises to continue to transform the brands both home and abroad into more of a "Made in America" proposition than anyone would have imagined just a few years ago.
Honda plans to give the lead to its North American operations for a growing number of global vehicle-development projects of the type which traditionally were executed in Japan. Company executives hope the moves would help Honda fend off competitive challenges in the North American market and also hedge against a strong yen.
The U.S. R&D team, most of it located in Raymond, Ohio, already stands at about 2,000 people, and Honda could add to that for engineering and development work on the new-generation Acura NSX sports car, the next-generation Civic and other models, said Erik Berkman, the new president of Honda R&D Americas, according to Automotive News.
"As an organization, our U.S. facilities and the skill level of our engineers have achieved full citizenship in R&D," Berkman said. Honda already has been gearing up a huge shift of auto production to the United States from Japan because of the stubbornly strong yen, which makes U.S. manufacturing less expensive.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on July 27, 2012 11:16 AM
Last year, Toyota faced global headwinds, but this year it's benefiting from tailwinds. Meanwhile, its chief rivals for the title of worldwide automotive-sales leader — General Motors and Volkswagen — have run into their own problems, especially in a slogging Europe and a slowing China.
In a nutshell, that's why Toyota grabbed the lead over the other two companies in the first half, selling 4.97 million vehicles globally during the first six months of the year, compared with 4.67 million sales by GM and 4.45 million by VW, according to Automotive News.
That represents a reversal from last year, when GM led the world as Toyota struggled with production cutbacks because of the tsunami in Japan and floods in Thailand. "It shows it's a competitive world out there," commented Rebecca Lindland, an industry analyst with IHS automotive. That's an understatement.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on July 23, 2012 02:38 PM
Mazda may be zigging with its decision to bet heavily on making more of its vehicles in Japan and exporting them in the nation's classic Japan Inc. way. But all of its Japanese rivals are zagging — and sinking unprecedented amounts into building up their manufacturing presence in North America, as the lofty yen gives them little choice but to do so for currency hedging.
The little automaker has declared that 90 percent of the output of its new CX-5 crossover, in Japan, will be aimed for export and that it can make a profit on sales to the U.S. even if the yen continues to appreciate against the dollar.Continue reading...