Friday, December 16, 2011

Lincoln gets serious

It looks like Ford is ready to put the full-court press on to revitalize the Lincoln brand.

Yesterday, they announced a new marketing initiative being put together by the WPP group that will be based in New York.

Okay, nothing earth shattering there. Everybody changes agencies whether they need to or not when they're in rebuilding mode.

What interested me most in this article in Ad Age is that they are planning on launching seven new vehicles in the near future. So it appears that they've taken the resources that were deployed on Volvo, Aston Martin and Jaguar and have invested them in Lincoln.


Ford has done a terrific job with it's blue oval branded products. The Focus that my son just bought is a really nice car. How do I know? We shopped them all: Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra, Honda Civic, Mazda 3 and the Chevrolet Cruze (you can thank me for not subjecting you to that process). The interesting thing was his decision came down to the Cruze and the Focus. What tipped the scale for him were the dealer experience and he felt the Focus was a little sportier.

I can't wait to see what Ford has planned for Lincoln and what niche they want to own in the luxury market. It's a crowded space. While BMW and Audi remain almost invincible, there are chinks appearing in the armor of brands like Lexus, Mercedes, and Volvo.

In my mind, this is the automotive story to watch in 2012.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lexus has a December to forget

The holidays are here and that means everyone's getting a new car for Christmas, right?

That's what you'd be led to believe if you've been watching any TV over the last few weeks. After all, who wouldn't want to find a shiny new Lexus with a big red bow on top under their tree?

Apparently no one.

According to a new study by Ace Metrix, the Lexus holiday ads aren't just ineffective, they're actually hurting the brand. I'm not surprised for two reasons.

First, if you're not going to buy your loved one a convertible or something special, you might as well buy her a toaster. Buying someone sedan or SUV even a Lexus, is just buying them a big, expensive appliance.

Second, there's context at work here. A lot of people are struggling right now, people who may someday want to buy a really nice car when the economy improves and they're doing better. But here's Lexus thumbing their metaphorical nose at them, delivering the exact same message they were in the mid 2000s when the economy was booming.

Empathy is an important trait for a marketer. I'm not suggesting they be a downer during the holiday season and they don't have to be. Mercedes has done a nice job with their spot, putting their brand at the center of a holiday message.

It's important to remember that in advertising, even during the holidays, context matters.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


In the midst of the madness that is the holiday season and the crush to wrap things up by the end of the year, the BBC reminds us that there is a lot around us to observe and enjoy.

What follows is a wonderful mash up of their brilliant cinematography, the poignant words of Bob Thiele and George David Weiss, and the voice of David Attenborough.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Putting Bud in a better light

Yesterday, the ad agencies McGarryBowen and Translation won shared duties on the Bud Light account.

I have four words for the two agencies: good luck with that.

As I wrote in a post last year, there's never been a better time to be a beer drinker. There are so many good, interesting beers out there, including light lagers that there's really no need for people who like beer to drink the tasteless colored water that Bud and Miller have been passing off as beer for the past few decades.

Not that it can't be done. In the food and beverage industry, taste has very little to do with mainstream success. After all, Kraft still sells a lot of its blue box Mac & Cheese. What Bud Light must become is interesting.

Right now it isn't.

The ads, the promotions, the packaging, have all been as predictable as a Justin Beiber chart topper.

Frat boy humor and scantily clad women can only take a brand so far. Especially when we've seen it all before a million times.

Here's to hoping the new agencies try to add some flavor to this stale brand.

Monday, December 12, 2011

No good deed goes unpunished

Saturday night, Chase Bank sponsored the "American Giving Awards" on NBC. Well, sponsored isn't exactly correct. This was a one hour infomercial for the centerpiece of Chase's annual corporate giving program where five charities were awarded between $125,000 and $1,000,000 based on an online vote that took place on the Chase Community Giving Facebook page.

I've always been a believer in the "Do good. Take credit." school of public relations, but something about this feels a little unseemly.

With negative PR continuing to taint the big banks from the "Occupy" movement and huge pay and incentive programs for bank CEOs – Chase's James Dimon earned over $11 million last year according to Forbes, down from $30 million in 2007 – it makes sense that Chase does everything possible to tell its side of the story. I'm just not sure this is the best way.

Yes, 1.5 million people watched it (for reference over 5 million watched Rudolph which aired on CBS at the same time).

Yes, To Write Love on Her Arms is an incredibly deserving charity.

Yes, Chase has every right to promote its charitable giving.

Maybe that's the problem I have with it.

Chase is promoting their good works as they would a new checking account or rewards credit card. It feels like they're more interested in taking credit than actually doing good. Packaging it as an awards show, making it seem as though it's endorsed by an independent third party is disingenuous at best.

I'm sure Chase does a lot of good in the communities they serve. They've given out over $18 million to 500 charities since 2009.

I'd just feel better about it if I actually believed their primary intent was to do good in addition to selling credit cards and checking accounts.