detroit auto show

NAIAS 2013: At Detroit Auto Show, it's the Year of the SUV

Posted by Dale Buss on January 14, 2013 05:12 PM

Over the past few years, fuel economy became the predominant theme of the Detroit Auto Show, as brands battled recession, $4-a-gallon gasoline, the heavy hand of the federal government and one another to lure American buyers into their increasingly "green" machines.

But at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week, one of the clearly emergent themes is a return to more substantial and practical vehicles — specifically, to utility vehicles. Fuel economy isn't being ignored; it's more that decent mileage is a given for just about every new model these days.

One after another, brands at the first of two press-preview days at the show on Monday revealed new production models of mid-sized and compact sport-utility and "crossover" utility vehicles, plans to field more of them, or both.

"We're absent from the midsize-SUV segment" in the United States, Jonathan Browning, president and CEO of Volkswagen of America, said at a press conference where the brand introduced a new concept SUV called CrossBlue. That segment has "predicted growth of more than 20 percent by 2018, the biggest predicted for any segment," he said.Continue reading...

fashion therapy

Volkswagen, Aquafina Woo Fashionistas This Awards Season

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 11, 2013 11:12 AM

It’s getting harder and harder to get television viewers to actually sit and watch commercials, which means product placement continues to rise as a means to show consumers just how great a product is.

TV will be filled with awards shows for the next few months, live events often attract high tune-in, sprinkled with tune-out during commercial breaks. 

PepsiCo's Aquafina brand is partnering with fashion TV powerhouse Project Runway (which jumped from Bravo to Lifetime TV in 2009) with a contest inviting aspiring designers to submit their designs for a chance to attend the season 11 finale at the Fall 2013 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York next month.

According to the press release, "Narrowed down from the pool of design submissions gathered over the past month, the four designers who receive the most votes will compete in a one-hour, live design competition in New York City on February 6, 2013. The grand prize winner will receive $5,000, Aquafina for a year and recognition among the esteemed Project Runway and fashion communities."Continue reading...

trademark wars

Levi's, VW Brands Help Nike Win US Supreme Court Trademark Ruling

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 9, 2013 06:02 PM

Nike’s Air Force 1 just celebrated 30 years, hitting stores way back in 1982 as the first basketball shoe to use its Nike Air technology. It’s been a huge success for the brand, and has become a collector’s item for sneakerheads. Its recent appearance in front of the Supreme Court, normally a place where sneakers don't dare to tread, may only increase its appeal to collectors.

The trouble began back in 2009 when a small shoemaker, Already LLC, which makes Yums sneakers was sued by Nike for infringing on its Air Force 1 trademark with the design of its Soulja Boy shoes.

The Yums brand owner responded countersued before Nike “issued a covenant not to sue, promising not to raise any trademark or unfair competition claims against Already or any affiliated entity based on Already’s existing footwear designs, or any future Already designs,” World Trademark Review reports. “Nike then moved to dismiss its claims with prejudice, and to dismiss Already’s counterclaim without prejudice on the ground that the covenant had extinguished the case or controversy.”Continue reading...


BMW Wins 2012 U.S. Luxury Crown But Faces Global Fight with German Rivals

Posted by Dale Buss on January 4, 2013 02:15 PM

BMW won the U.S. luxury-auto sales title for 2012 going away. But that was only the latest round in a three-way donnybrook among the German upscale car brands that likely will continue for  many years, as Mercedes-Benz and Audi continue to vie with BMW for global domination in the most rarefied segment of the mainstream auto market.

BMW sales in the U.S. surged by 39 percent in December, powered by the popularity of its 5 Series car line (and, reportedly, by some tempting sales incentives). That was enough to vault BMW past Mercedes-Benz for all of 2012 by more than 7,000 vehicles in their race within a race. Things had been tight for most of the year, but at the end BMW gained a much larger victory than it won over Mercedes in 2011.

Both brands, however, already are looking over their rear fenders at a revived Lexus, which aims to take back in 2013 the sales title that it had won for 11 years straight through 2010.Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: Kia, Zipcar, Nivea and more

Posted by Dale Buss on January 2, 2013 09:02 AM

In the News

Kia names first non-Korean as president and integrates Google Maps.

Avis to acquires Zipcar brand for $500 million.

Nivea woos investors as CEO admits Rihanna was the wrong brand ambassador and brand returns to NYC's Times Square as New Year's Eve event sponsor.

Amazon apologizes for Christmas Eve outage.

American Girl's 2013 Girl of the Year doll addresses U.S. arts education cuts.

Apple sees its store in Paris robbed.

BBC Worldwide appoints chief brands officer.Continue reading...

super bowl

Super Bowl Ad Watch: Mercedes-Benz Puts Kate Upton Front and Center

Posted by Dale Buss on December 19, 2012 05:05 PM

If any Super Bowl should be a key moment for Mercedes-Benz, the 2013 game on February 3rd is it. The brand's name is on the stadium where the Big Game is taking place, for one thing. It's introducing an important new model. And Mercedes-Benz could use a boost in the U.S. marketplace, especially one that would reverberate around the world.

Enter Kate Upton and Usher. Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Steve Cannon shared some details (and a sneak peek at the shoot, above) about the brand's 60-second ad planned for Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. He told Business Insider that the ad will be "a tongue-in-cheeck depiction of how far a person might — or might not — go to get their heart's desire."

Such goals might be, say, an evening of clubbing with supermodel Upton, Cannon said, although "we are not using her as a sexual object," he insisted. Instead, the ad will be "upbeat, high-energy, fast-paced [but not] funny." And, of course, there will be a car in there, too. Specifically, Mercedes-Benz will be trying to appeal to a younger demographic by promoting the new CLA, which comes at a lower price point than the rest of Mercedes-Benz's luxury lineup.Continue reading...

brand vs. brand

Fiat is Paying US Volkswagen Owners to Switch Brands

Posted by Dale Buss on December 11, 2012 01:24 PM

Fiat faces more and more problems in the struggling European car market, so it's got to make more progress than company executives initially had hoped in the U.S. market — and faster than they'd planned.

So Fiat is turning up the voltage. In tandem with other Chrysler-owned brands, it is offering what it calls Conquest Bonus Cash as an incentive to U.S. buyers who own Volkswagens to switch. They'll give $1,000, through January 2, to any VW owner who buys one of their cars except for a handful of excepted models.

This isn't a usual tactic — the last time Chrysler did it was 2010, targeting Toyota. "We believe the Dodge Dart, for example, would appeal to current Volkswagen owners," Ralph Kisiel, a Chrysler spokesman, told brandchannel. Customers don't even have to give up their VW to qualify.Continue reading...


Audi Chief Spreads the Gospel of Clean Diesel

Posted by Dale Buss on December 5, 2012 03:47 PM

Diesel automobile sales continue to gain momentum and share in the US market even as hybrids and electric vehicles continue to stall as a segment. Mazda, for instance, just announced that it will offer a diesel beginning late next year. It's Audi, however, that continues to push the clean-diesel proposition more than any other brand.

As the brand unveiled its new offering of its TDI (Turbo Direct Injection) diesel engines across most of its product lineup — now including all of its mainstream models in addition to the A3 and Q7 clean diesel models where the option originated a few years ago — at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Audi of America President Scott Keogh was articulating his company's case for the technology in an unprecedented way.

Fuel-efficient, emission-reduced clean diesel "is the best choice for drivers seeking to save at the pump, for a nation seeking to free itself from the grip of foreign oil, for a society seeking smart ways to cut greenhouse gases, for a world seeking more sustainable mobility," Keogh told journalists assembled in Los Angeles, where the Q7 also received the ALG residual value award.Continue reading...

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