Friday, June 24, 2011

Ford displays a lack of touch

Ford took a major dive in the latest J.D. Power and Associates initial quality poll falling all the way to 23rd from fifth place last year.

What's driving this precipitous decline? David Sargent, VP of global vehicle research for J.D. Power said a major factor was "nonintuitive electronic controls as automakers rush to offer enhanced infotainment features such as voice-activated controls."

It's ironic that a system designed to enhance the driving experience is actually making things worse.

I guess I'm not surprised.

When it comes to designing multi-function displays, the auto industry has always had problems. Can anyone say "iDrive?"

I'm sure Ford spent thousands of hours designing, testing and refining the SYNC and MyFord Touch systems. What it boils down to is that these systems are very different from traditional analog controls drivers have used for decades and you can't just turn them on and get the most out of them even when they're designed well. Users of that darling of multi-touch technology, the iPhone, still need time to figure out how to use it. And they're not moving along at 55 miles per hour.

This is what happens when you stick your neck out and lead a category into new territory. Sometimes you don't get it right, right out of the box. And now Ford is paying the price. Let's hope they figure this out quickly so they can return to the top of the chart.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I guess giving away product is hard

This has been happening way too often lately.

Last week in response to CP+B's Whopper Lust promotion for Burger King, I said "Any moron can give away free product."

Apparently, I was wrong.

Back in February, Taco Bell offered to giveaway up to 10 million tacos to its 6 million Facebook fans. Anyone who "Liked" Taco Bell on Facebook had access to an online coupon they could print out and bring to a store for a free taco. Sweet.

And how many people took them up on their generous offer?

Just a little under 200,000.

In case you're wondering. That's not a good response rate. So bad in fact that one Taco Bell executive is quoted as saying, "We haven't even been able to give away the food, never mind figure out how to sell it online."

Yes, the lack of success in this simple promotion makes you question the value of a fan on Facebook. But my question is, what does it say about your product when you can't even give it away to people who like you?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Advertising is alive and well in France

Orange Mobile is running a new promotion in France that offers two-for-one movie tickets on Tuesdays to all its subscribers.

There are a lot of ways they could have told people about the promotion. They chose to go just a little bit over the top, creating a faux trailer for a movie epic that runs in theaters before the feature.

It's a classic shaggy dog story. The build up is massive. The payoff is small. And I think it's fantastic.

Smartly written, beautifully shot, and edited to make you feel that this just could be a real summer blockbuster, this spot is worth watching over and over even after you know the joke. And it proves that just because your promotion is simple, doesn't mean your advertising has to be.

Well done.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A word of advice for my friends in Purchase

You knew it would happen. After the news in March that Diet Coke had passed Pepsi as the second best selling soft drink in the U.S., a shake-up was inevitable in Purchase, NY.

So now, according to Ad Age, they're reorganizing the marketing department around their various 'brands' and territories in an effort to get their mojo back. If I can give the new team at Pepsi one piece of advice it would be this.

Don't over think it. It's only advertising.

Find the shows your drinkers are watching and advertise on them. Find the activities they're participating in and sponsor them. And while you're at it, you might want to look at your packaging and merchandising to help things pop more at the shelf.

It's really not that hard. But in your efforts to outsmart Coke over the past few years, you've ignored the basics. You've allowed yourself to be talked into complex programs that don't even target the people who are most likely to drink artificially flavored, sugary fizzy water. And the results have been disastrous.

Here's to hoping the new triad gets it right and the cola wars become an entertaining battle again, instead of the one-sided pummeling that Coke has been laying on Pepsi for the past few years.