Friday, April 15, 2011

GM needs to aim lower

A generation ago, General Motors had a 50% market share in the U.S.

A decade ago it was still at 35%

Today, GM sells about 17% of the new cars and trucks at retail in the U.S.

GM has had some recent hits. Cadillac products are well designed, well built and sales reflect that. But a better Cadillac isn't going to significantly increase GM's share.

In order to stabilize market share GM needs better product where the volume is, at the low and mid-range of the market. Thus, it's all about Chevrolet.

Yes, it's nice to have a $62,000 CTS-V that will run circles around a BMW M5 on the Nürburgring, a $40,000 Buick that's competitive with other near-luxury sedans, and even a $75,0000 Corvette that makes Porsches run and hide. But until GM convinces the American public that the Chevy Cruze offers a significantly better experience than the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra, and Ford Focus; until the Malibu beats the Accord, Camry, Fusion and Sonata, their market share will continue to slide.

All I can say at this point is, "Good luck with that."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Corona Light gets lightweight advertising.

Maybe I just don't get it.

Corona Light, which last year introduced the slogan "It only gets better" seems intent on making things worse when it comes to building its brand and business.

The latest effort is shot miles away from the beach and no where near the heart of the Corona brand.

Like I said, I don't get it.

Corona, the brand, has a well defined, relevant and differentiating brand promise "vacation in a bottle." Why would Corona Light not be "Vacation in a bottle without the guilt" or "Vacation that never ends in a bottle" promoting the concept known in the beer industry as "sessionability?"

Instead they've chosen to create completely separate marketing campaigns not leveraging any equity between the two products and position Corona Light as a party beer.

So now instead of something interesting and different, we get another beer spot with a DJ and a bevy of beautiful young people dancing and holding up their beer in celebration. How original.

Why did they do this?

Jim Sabia, Corona's marketing director is quoted in Ad Age as saying, "Consumers said go, get off the beach. Corona's got the beach. You guys can go off the beach."

Of course they can. You can go wherever you'd like. But just because you can, doesn't mean you should. And in this case, I'm pretty sure you shouldn't.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Walking a fine line

It's a three minute mockumentary that has been viewed over 9 million times. It's one of AdAge's Viral Video Award Winners.

The story is funny. The effects are well done, and surprise, surprise, they actually managed to put 10 seconds of product demonstration right in the center of it.

While not as overt as Blend-Tech's "Will it blend" series, the story of Liquid Mountaineering does what many viral videos rarely seem to achieve. It actually demonstrates a product benefit.

Still based on the comments on Youtube, a lot of people didn't get it. An NBC affiliate in Washington D.C. actually picked up the video and ran it as a legit news story. I know you don't want to blow the gag, but after investing three minutes of my time you'd think they'd provide a link to the Liquid Mountaineering website where they could, I don't know...

...sell me some shoes.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Magic? Not everyday.

I'll start with an admission. I'm a Porschephile. Even though I don't own one, I love them. I have ever since I used to sneak my dad's bright orange 1968 911 Targa out of the garage when I was 15 years old. (I wonder why he sold it just weeks before my 16th birthday?)

So when I saw this new Porsche ad yesterday, I was surprised.

A porsche is a dream. A fantasy. And if I'm someday lucky enough to amass a small enough fortune to afford one I'd like it to be a fulfillment of that fantasy when I purchase it.

I don't care how 'practical' a Porsche is any more than I care whether or not Brooklyn Decker can balance a budget or make a perfect cup of coffee.

Aside from the fact that this spot is filled with falsehoods – Porsche's (even the all wheel drive versions) are lousy in snow, the back seat's a torture chamber for anyone over three feet tall, and the trunk can't hold 4 bags of groceries – the point of advertising is to create desire.

Let the salesperson remind people there's actually a trunk and a back seat.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Turn problems into opportunities

Charles F. Kettering, a holder of 120 patents and the inventor of the electric starter car starter for General Motors, was quoted as saying, "A problem well stated is a problem half solved."

This is half true.

It's not enough just to identify the problem. In order to generate new ideas, that problem must be viewed in context with a vision of the future.

One of the key steps at the front end of innovation is to convert problems into possibilities. I've found the easiest way to do that is to use these five simple words...

"In what way might we..."

So instead of: "Our sales are falling because our target is aging," reframe it as, "In what way might we attract younger users to our brand."

Instead of: "This health craze is killing our cola business." try, "In what way might we create a drink that's as healthy as water but cravable as cola."

By using this clause to frame your thinking, you instantly move from focusing on the current state to the future state. You move from dwelling on the the problem to finding a solution.

And that's really the point of any innovation effort.