Thursday, December 20, 2012

Is Chevrolet on the road again?

There's trouble in the Commonwealth today.

Though the folks at GM are denying it, moving the launch of the Chevy Silverado from Chevrolet's lead agency created by ex Director of Marketing Joel Ewanick, to Leo Burnett is a very big deal.

Commonwealth was created as a joint venture between Goodby Chevy's domestic ad agency, and McCann which had been doing a lot of international work for GM. The thought being that together they could handle the the heavy workload of all the new vehicle launches coming for Chevy effectively and efficiently.

Well, it would be hard to find a more important vehicle in a more competitive category launching in the next couple of years from GM. The Silverado is a huge money maker for GM, delivering about $12,000 per vehicle in profit.

What this says to me is that GM doesn't trust Commonwealth.

And when the client doesn't trust the agency. It's over.

I hope I'm wrong, because more uncertainty in the marketing is not what GM needs right now. Jeff Goodby and Nick Brien need to take this seriously and figure out what's wrong with the relationship or there won't be one much longer.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Gone in an Instagram

There's a new verb in my vocabulary today:


It's what happens to companies who cavalierly alter their terms of service without properly consulting and communicating with their user base.

When Instagram slipped the following clause into their Terms of Service the other day, the firestorm was as swift as it was inevitable.
A business or other entity may pay Instagram to display users' photos and other details in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.
Yeah, that was going to go over well. Allowing advertisers use photographs without the consent of or compensation for the owner of the image. It went over so well in fact that yesterday tens of thousands of Instagram users backed up their images on other services and closed their accounts.

I understand their desire to make money, and as revenue models go this isn't a bad one. But Instagram forgot one simple step: ask for permission.

Rather than just set up a blanket policy to profit from user photographs, they could have created and marketed a program that Instagram members could opt into. Then when advertisers found images they wanted to use, Instagram could share a percentage of the revenue with the user. This would have created both monetary and emotional benefits for the users who would take pride in seeing their images in an ad somewhere.

Would they have made as much money? No. But then again, they wouldn't have had to issue this apology.

What this demonstrates yet once more is how fragile a brand is and how those brands that take their customers for granted can be gone in an instant.

The next time you're thinking of making a change to your product or service, think about your customers, or yours might be the next great brand to get instagrammed.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Lincoln finds its way

Back in August 2010 when I was shopping for a new car, I wrote this about whether or not I would put the Lincoln brand on my shopping list.
Doesn't quite seem to have the same mojo as Ford. Now that the company has divested itself of Volvo, Jaguar and Aston Martin they can fix this brand. Until then, OUT
Well, Ford is attempting to fix the brand, starting with a new car, the MKZ, and this new ad campaign.

Despite the challenge of trying to introduce a revamped brand with just one product, I'm inclined to like this effort.

The overall brand positioning feels right. Despite the famous Commander Cody song, Lincolns have never been drivers' cars. They're for people who need to get somewhere but aren't particularly in love with the road. The Continentals and Town Cars of the past ferried the well-heeled in relative luxury and comfort. It's pretty clear from this "introduction" Lincoln doesn't plan on straying too far from that course, only hoping to move their owners from the back seat to the front.

The spot is very well crafted. The blend of past and present feels right. Creating links between classic cars and the new features helps build a credible story (though the idea of a design inspired by the manta ray comes a little out of nowhere for me). This spot exudes quality through its writing, art direction, cinematography and editing which sets the expectation for the car's quality without ever using that over-used and impossible to define word.

Will I consider a Lincoln when I look to replace the Audi? No. The spot makes it clear that if I'm interested in a car that's designed to be tossed into corners at 20 mph over the recommended speed limit I should look elsewhere. And that's okay.

In fact, it's more than okay. It's what great advertising does. It tells me exactly who the brand is for and who it's not for. So while Audi, BMW, Lexus, Infiniti and Cadillac battle for my heart by appealing to my right foot, Lincoln will satisfy a much larger segment of the market by being something different.

It'll be interesting to see if this position is carried out through all the new products they'll be introducing over the next few years and how successful it is in the long run.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Back to the grind

A few years ago at a conference my company created, I was lucky enough to hear award-winning choreographer Twyla Tharp speak about her book and how creativity is essentially a learned trait.

She argues that those who wait for inspiration to strike will only be creative if they're lucky. Creativity takes practice, study, intention and focus.

How do I know this is true? 

After taking a week off from this blog, writing this morning's post has been excruciatingly hard.

I may just have to reread her book to help me get back into the habit.