2014 Brandcameo Product Placement Awards

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Infiniti Finally Turns To China, Japan in Quest for Bigger Piece of Premium Market

Posted by Dale Buss on November 19, 2013 03:57 PM

When Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn recruited Johan de Nysschen to head the Infiniti brand last year, he wanted his new recruit to accomplish much the same for Nissan's luxury brand as de Nysschen had done in turning around the fortunes of Audi in the US market. Only Ghosn wanted it done on a global basis.

Some of the results of de Nysschen's disruptive new strategy have become evident now, as Infiniti newly targets both China and its home country of Japan as it attempts to achieve Ghosn's target of 10 percent of the world premium market by 2020.

In China, de Nysschen told Bloomberg, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and his old employer, Audi, "have become so successful that they've become almost a little bit ubiquitous. They're everywhere. And this is where we see a big opportunity with this new emerging premium consumer, to offer them an alternative, reinvent the notion of exclusivity."Continue reading...

car talk

Toyota Holds Tight to Global Sales Title, But Chief Promises a Quality Comeback Too

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...

auto motive

Nissan's Google Glass-Like 3E Could Help Put Tokyo Motor Show on the Map

Posted by Dale Buss on November 11, 2013 04:34 PM

Japanese auto brands have rebounded from the Great Recession and 2011's tsunami and earthquake to re-establish their relevance in the global auto industry. But the Tokyo Motor Show hasn't fared as well, suffering since then by comparison with auto shows in China, even as Japan itself has suffered as a center of automotive production by comparison with growth in North America and other markets.

Now, with the 43rd edition of the biennial Tokyo show that kicks off on November 20, organizers aim to change the perception of a fading industry platform with an emphasis on "smart mobility" and a big boost from the biggest of home teams, Toyota. The effort is meant to move the show beyond the unfavorable realities, which now include the fact that the Detroit Three automakers don't even bother to exhibit their wares at the show anymore and the formidable competition from the Los Angeles Auto Show that also occurs this month, half a world away.

While Toyota's doing the pushing, it could be another Japanese automaker—Nissan—that helps put the country's annal auto show back on the map with its cutting-edge (wearable) technology.Continue reading...

auto motive

Mercedes-Benz Ready to Take US Luxury Auto Sales Crown from BMW

Posted by Dale Buss on November 11, 2013 12:29 PM

Mercedes-Benz is determined to make the United States market a long-term growth play at a time when China and other emerging markets seem to bear the greatest potential for global luxury car brands. The first step on that journey would be for Mercedes-Benz to wrest the 2013 premium-sales crown for the US from BMW.

The oldest German car brand seems to be well on its way to doing exactly that. So far this year, it is beating BMW by about 5,000 vehicles in the US. And with the launch of its highly hyped new CLA entry-level sedan still picking up steam, that's a gap which actually could grow by December 31. Also, Mercedes-Benz already has flooded the airwaves with helpful seasonal-promotion TV ads featuring Santa Claus and his frigid garage full of Benzes.

Mercedes has gained at least one significant believer this year. "I think Mercedes is definitely in a position of strength considering the CLA launch, which is a segment that BMW isn't in yet," Matt Carpenter, general sales manager for Audi of America, told brandchannel. "It's a segment we're going to be making a statement in next year with our new A3 sedan."Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: BT, CBS, Alibaba and more

Posted by Dale Buss on November 11, 2013 09:11 AM

In the News

BSkyB shares hit by BT Champions League football rights deal win.

CBS criticized for not running more extensive apology over flawed Benghazi report.

Alibaba set for US$5B boost from China's online "Singles Day."

Adidas sprints for lead with Smart Run watch.

Amazon taps U.S. Postal Service to establish Sunday delivery for Prime customers.

Apple finds surprising market growth in Japan as China supply chain practices face fresh criticism.

Bank of America may have to pay US $864M over "Hustle" loans.

Bloomberg curbs reporting that might anger China.

Boeing and Japan Air Lines face another Dreamliner battery incident.

Bottega Veneta unveils new 'green' headquarters.

Cadillac's new CMO aims to focus brand around design.

Charmin pulls cheeky Twitter ad campaign.Continue reading...

retail watch

Afraid of Scrooge This Christmas, Brands Have Pivoted to Early Promotions

Posted by Dale Buss on November 4, 2013 03:49 PM

Halloween is barely a distant memory in retailing terms, but what really frightens store chains this week is the prospect that the quickly approaching holiday season will be a scary period for them.

Economic snapshots and projections aren't all that encouraging, and neither has been the sluggishness that retail brands have seen in their own stores so far this fall. So brands including Walmart, J. Crew, MasterCard and luxury auto brands already have joined Best Buy in getting what they hope will be an early jump on holiday spending.

Walmart, for example, is pulling forward seven big deals on items including TVs and tablets that were originally reserved for Cyber Monday, the first Monday after Thanksgiving, the Associated Press reported.Continue reading...

auto motive

Ford Brand Impacted by "Buggy" In-Car Tech - Consumer Reports

Posted by Dale Buss on October 28, 2013 05:02 PM

Ford hasn't made enough progress in solving the operational frustrations that come with its MyFord Touch system, according to Consumer Reports' new, closely watched vehicle-reliability ratings. The Ford Motor Company manufactures five of the ten "least reliable cars" on Consumer Reports' latest New Car Auto Reliability survey. The problem, increasingly, looks like a morass that could tarnish the Ford and Lincoln brands.

Rivals GMC, Audi and Volvo, in comparison, seem to have figured out how to please American buyers and leapt significantly in the just-released survey by the influential consumer watchdog. Each of those marques captured three of the top-10 spots in the just-released survey—with Volvo jumping 13 places to seventh among all brands selling in the US, GMC leaping three places to finish ninth and as the top-rated domestic brand, and Audi climbing four places to finish fourth overall as the top European manufacturer in the survey. What's more, every model from each of those brands scored better than average.

Japanese brands—Lexus, Toyota and Acura—captured the top three spots in the survey, which was conducted by CR's National Research Center and, based on subscribers' experiences with 1.1 million vehicles, is believed to be the largest of its kind. However, the Toyota Camry, the bestselling car in America, is no longer #1. As Consumer Reports commented, "The Japanese dominance in car reliability is showing cracks."Continue reading...

auto motive

Lexus Turns Driving Into an Artform in Lexus IS 300h Campaign

Posted by Dale Buss on October 28, 2013 03:04 PM

If you drive "ugly," you may be ugly. That seems to be a primary message inherent in a new art-inspired promotion in Europe and Japan for the Lexus IS 300h hybrid, called Art is Motion.

Lexus has equipped one of the cars with software that produces a "generative self-portrait" of the driver behind the wheel based on the work of artist Sergio Albiac that is converted into paint-brush strokes. A system onboard the car "paints" a digital picture of the car's owner that takes shape in real time on its computer screen as the car proceeds, and on the Art is Motion website, based on his or her driving style and efficient use of energy.

Not surprisingly, the more the driver relies on battery power instead of gasoline as the car goes, the more flattering is the "generative self-portrait" that emerges. Or, as LeftLaneNews.com put it, "Those who employ the hybrid system's 141-hp electric motor more will end up with a more accurate painting in cooler colors. On the other hand lead-foots who make greater use of its 178-hp petrol four-cylinder will draw a more abstract depiction in "virulent" hues."Continue reading...

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