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car talk

Toyota, Japanese Brands Keep U.S. Down in Consumer Reports' "Best Cars" Rank

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...

red carpet

Hyundai, Diet Coke, Samsung Stage Big Ads for The Oscars

Posted by Dale Buss on February 22, 2013 06:33 PM

Little do the stars know, by the time it comes to Oscars night, the most important performances are on the little screen, not the big one.

During the "Super Bowl of the entertainment industry" on Sunday evening, the ABC telecast of the Oscars, Hyundai and a handful of other advertisers will be leveraging the big stage in big ways for their brands. The prospect of the largest TV audience for the Academy Awards in several years would make achieving their goals easier.

Hyundai, for instance, will be running seven commercials during the telecast—the most of any advertiser—and it has the sole automotive rights to the automotive ad category during the show. Keeping with the show biz theme, it's fitting that Hyundai's voiceover talent is, once again, its longstanding brand voice: Academy Award-winner Jeff Bridges. At a time when Hyundai continues to dimensionalize the brand along both luxury and performance lines, the Oscars are at least as important a forum for the carmaker as for any actor or director.

"We're bullish on the chances for ratings this year, with the combination of films that were critically acclaimed and that also did big box office," Steve Shannon, CMO for Hyundai of America, told brandchannel. "We just like the feel of the Oscars."Continue reading...

car talk

Amidst Recalls and Expansions, German Auto Brands Jockey for Luxury Leadership

Posted by Dale Buss on February 20, 2013 04:14 PM

The three German luxury auto brands are like a trio of high-performance machines in an extended road race, each taking the lead for a while as they jockey for position and probe for the opportunity to make an unstoppable surge and finally blow past the competition.

These days, Audi and Mercedes-Benz are in second and third place, with BMW hanging on to a tenous lead for this year that many watchers believe it eventually could lose—at least for a while.

The most immediate factors: BMW has just announced the biggest safety recall in its history, while Audi plans a major expansion of its SUV lineup and Mercedes-Benz has announced its most ambitious new-product blitz in the brand's history. Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: BlackBerry, iPhone, Carnival and more

Posted by Dale Buss on February 15, 2013 09:00 AM

In the News

BlackBerry shows new signs of life as co-founder sells stake.

Apple challenges iPhone trademark loss in Brazil.

Carnival tries to cruise away from brand disaster as passengers mull legal options.

ABC, NFL and Call of Duty get top marks for consumer engagement.

Airbus drops lithium-ion batteries from latest jet.

Applebee's expands test of Express Lunch service.

Best Western focuses on its people, not perks, in new campaign.Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: AA/US Airways, AB InBev, Heinz to Buffett, Time Inc. and more

Posted by Shirley Brady on February 14, 2013 08:45 AM

In the News

American Airlines and US Airways to create the world's biggest airline with $11 billion union.

AB InBev will sell Corona unit to salvage Modelo takeover, as Pernod Ricard is open to Jose Cuervo talks.

H.J. Heinz Company enters agreement to be acquired by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway.

Time Warner rumored to eye Time Inc. split and talking to Meredith about buying magazine brands.

Adidas unveils new global brand strategy with Boost product push.

American Express and Yahoo accused of stealing travel service idea.

Angry Birds parent Rovio slings into advertising.

Apple promises to fix iOS Exchange bug, fights activist shareholder Einhorn.

Barclays agrees to stop speculating on food prices.

Barnes & Noble warns of lower 2012 sales and Nook concerns.

Boeing looks at interim 787 fixes.

BT sticks by Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius (charged with murdering his girlfriend), for now.Continue reading...

auto motive

Crowded Field of Carmakers Returns to an Emphasis on Their Innovative Chops

Posted by Dale Buss on February 6, 2013 04:59 PM

Honda's "Innovator Series" attempts to position the automaker with envelope-pushing individuals.

With the Super Bowl over, many auto brands in the U.S. market are picking up in their marketing programs where they left off late last year. And while the eight brands that advertised during the game are all trying to extend those new advertising platforms in various ways (mainly through social media), others are turning — or rather, turning back — to associating themselves with innovation. Nissan, Honda, Ford and Lexus are among those employing the approach.

In fact, a new ranking of innovative companies across all industries, by Boston Consulting Group, gives automakers ten slots in the top 50, the highest total for the car industry since the consultancy began its ranking in 2005. Hyundai is ranked No. 10; Toyota, 11; Ford, 12; Kia, 13; BMW, 14; Nissan, 22; Audi, 25; GM, 29; and Renault, 34. VW dropped to 45th in this survey from 15th overall in 2010, the last time senior executives were polled.

Continue reading...

auto motive

Back On Top, Toyota Restores Brand Loyalty and Preps a New Truck

Posted by Dale Buss on February 5, 2013 04:20 PM

Toyota's latest Avalon: Off to a good start in the U.S. market, but can the Tundra follow suit?

March will mark the second anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that leveled much of Japan's northeast coast and sent the nation's auto industry into a tailspin.

While many psychic, physical and economic scars remain nationwide, Toyota, Japan's leading auto brand, is back on top of the world: Today, the company reported a 23 percent rise in quarterly net profit and raised its annual profit forecast by 10 percent.

Toyota and its Lexus and Scion brands are all benefiting from a snapback in sales and market share in the U.S., as Toyota has managed to get through its recall fiasco in 2010 — as well as the natural disaster in 2011 — with flying colors. Toyota reported a 26 percent gain in January sales in the U.S. market — more than double the industry average gain for the month. Sales of the new RAV4, as well as a new version of the Avalon full-size sedan, have started off strong.Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: BlackBerry 10, UPS, Dreamliner and more

Posted by Dale Buss on January 30, 2013 09:04 AM

In the News

RIM prepares for BlackBerry 10 global launch this morning.

UPS acquisition of TNT formally blocked by EU.

Boeing had concerns about batteries before Dreamliner failures.

Taco Bell and Volkswagen get heat over their Super Bowl ads as Kia unveils full Space Babies spot.

Toyota recalls 1M Corollas and Lexus sedans.

AT&T bites deeper into Vampire Diaries with social "rehash."

American Airlines signals serious merger intentions with United Airways.

Apple refused bigger damages from judge in Samsung case.

Bob Evans plans to sell Mimi's Cafe.Continue reading...

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