Friday, February 12, 2010

Free Idea Friday

Ideas are easy. Execution is hard. Every Friday I will share an idea that's been rolling around in my head that I have neither the time nor the where-with-all to execute. Remember, it's free, so take it for what it's worth.

What Toyota Dealers Should Have Done
It's been said, that you never have a better time to create a customer for life than when you have a problem. How you deal with that problem is the key. So instead of complaining about negative news stories and pulling their ads, Southeastern Toyota dealers should have been on the air, letting their customers know that they're ready to take care of them.

Here's an idea for a spot delivered by the owner of the dealership in each market. (Click on the spot to make the image larger) As he walks toward the camera through the parking lot of his dealership, customer cars pull up beside him and stop (as they're supposed to). The owners get out of their car and after the dealer delivers his message he meets with the owners to help them with their cars.

Simple and direct. No complaining. No trying to weasel out or lay the blame elsewhere, just a neighbor ready to step up and make things right.

That's what Toyota needs now. Not a bunch of cry-babies who can't handle a little negative publicity.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Chevrolet's Big Moment

If I hadn't checked my calendar, I would have sworn this was 1999. Here I was at the Chicago Auto Show Media Preview watching Chevy unveil two "new" vehicles, the 75th Anniversary Suburban and the Silverado HD pickup.

Now to be fair, they did have the Volt, Cruze and new Aveo concept on the floor, and these two trucks do represent important profit segments for General Motors. But to make these the focal point of their presentation to the media at the largest consumer auto show in the country seems a little odd. Especially when gas prices are climbing again and everyone else is talking green, electric, hybrid, etc.

These are both excellent vehicles that perform their intended tasks as well or better than any of the others in their segments. They're just not the way forward for Chevrolet. They're not the vehicles that will lead them back to being America's favorite brand of cars and trucks. And they're not what the media wants to talk about.

Every brand needs to be different and relevant to survive. By choosing to feature two gas-guzzling trucks, Chevrolet definitely was different. I'm just not sure they were very relevant.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Toyota Dealers Take A Wrong Turn

Want to look petty, uncooperative, unsympathetic and downright stupid in the face of a crisis? Then do what the Southeastern Toyota dealers did yesterday.

In a reaction to what Toyota dealers feel are excessive negative news stories about the ongoing product problems and subsequent recalls, they have pulled their advertising from ABC affiliates in their area. I have two words for them: not smart.

If the dealers feel the coverage is false or unfair they should take ABC to court or file a grievance with the FCC and run ads that tell their side of the story.

Pulling their ads will have no positive effect on the coverage of the story by ABC. No matter how much the sales departments of those individual affiliates want the money, ABC News cannot back down on the story. Corporate blackmail has never been a very smart strategy with the news media. But then again no one ever accused car dealers of being smart or ethical.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Super Bowl Marketing: The Ultimate Measure

One last post, then I'll put the Super Bowl behind us for another year.

There are a lot of ways people are measuring the effectiveness of the Super Bowl ads: people meters, number of brand mentions in tweets, web traffic, expert panels, etc. But in reality, there's only one measure that truly matters: sales.

In most cases, it takes a while to judge the effectiveness of presenting your brand to the largest television audience in history. But today there is one success story, The Who. Yesterday, their Greatest Hits album was #6 selling album on iTunes. Which proves that even a mediocre presentation of a great product can positively impact sales.

So, while Snickers crows about being the top-rated commercial on the Super Bowl and all of us so-called experts tell you which we think were the best, lets wait to see what impact their campaigns have on sales before we judge their true effectiveness.

Because no matter how funny the joke, how artful the film, how cool the concept, if it doesn't sell, it ain't good advertising.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Morning After

Well, that was fun. An exciting football game. A couple of old guys trying to relive their youth at half time and 63 commercials trying to win the hearts, minds and wallets of the American people. All in all, not a bad night for the advertising industry. The quality of the game kept people in front of their sets. The quality of the commercials, however, was mixed at best. I'm not going to dissect each and every one of them, but here are some of my thoughts. If you want to see any of the spots again (except the Tebow ad, because apparently Focus on the Family isn't interested in sharing. How christian of them) you can see them here.

There was great storytelling (Google), incredible cinematograpy (Coke), the unexpected use of celebrities (Snickers, VW), and screaming chickens (Denny's). According to USA Today's Ad Meter, the big winners were Snickers and Doritos, which proves once again, that most people find it funny to watch other people get hurt, especially Betty White and Abe Vigoda. It also helps when you're not burdened by the responsibility of telling anyone anything about your product.

The unfortunate media placement of the night came when the Docker's Men Without Pants ad ran after Career Builder's Casual Friday spot. Sixty seconds straight of men in their tighty whiteys is just a little too much.

As for animals, the winner for me was Denny's with its screaming chickens. Monster's Fiddling beaver was a close second. The Bridgestone Orca ad was a decent rip off of the Hangover, but a rip off none the less so ultimately, it failed.

My biggest disappointment was the Miller High Life spot. I was hoping for more from Wendell and our four quirky, small business owners.

My favorite ad of the night was the Google spot. It told a great story while telling me a lot about the product. Unfortunately, I don't think the Super Bowl was the right venue for an ad with this level of wit and intelligence. If only they had found a way to show someone being hit in the groin, I'm sure it would have scored higher.

The true test of the ads, however, will play out over the next few months, to see who built the best campaign around their commercial to extend its effect beyond the big game. I'll do a follow up in six months. In the meantime, lets hear your thoughts on the spots.