Thursday, March 23, 2006
On the heels of the Chevrolet cry to visit Edmunds to dare to compare (see Blog entry March 5), we have exhibit b and c in the annals of marketing. In the quest for relevance and approval, the Pontiac brand invokes two powerful brand names; one that capitalized on the search phenomenon, the other a prime destination for auto shoppers on the web. Does this really help Pontiac? We think, at best...it's a push.
Google Pontiac. We did. Several of the sponsored results take you to sites other than Pontiac...some do their best to send the user to any brand, including Carpricesecrets, Carquote.autodiscountgroup.com and Alltheautomotive.com. One of the links we tried in AlltheAutomotive is for WhyPaySticker.com that encourages me to submit a price quote for the Kia Amanti and Mitsubishi Galant when I request a quote for the Pontiac G6. Hmmm....not sure this is what Pontiac had intended.
"Check out our stats and see how the others can't match up using the KBB New Vehicle Comparator." Again...we did asked.
Here's how a Pontiac Grand Prix V6 2WP69 Sedan 4d fared relative to the class leader, Toyota Camry LE V6 2552 Sedan 4D, according to KBB. After reviewing a mind-numbing row of stats (no helpful editorial to assist the amateur car shopper), the thing that jumps out the most is that the Camry has about the same price and horsepower, but some important technical and safety features not included or standard in the Grand Prix, including
- standard disc brakes with ABS
- standard traction control
- standard full spare tire
The Grand Prix however has some standard advantages, incl.
- Nav system
- Hands free phone
Knowing the Camry's better resale value (not shown) and purported quality (also not discussed) would make one lean towards the Camry. A Nav and hands free phone, although nice, are not as important to me as improved brakes, traction control, the full spare and the better resale/quality potential. You can add aftermarket Nav and phone. Not the knock out punch that needs to be delivered...and in heavyweight bouts, the challenger rarely wins a close fight with the judges. So...why advertise a brand name that potentially detracts and distracts from the Pontiac brand?
Sunday, March 05, 2006
I don't wonder how agencies and clients get ad campaigns wrong. I've been in the room when the ad is lovingly birthed. Recently, several ad friends of mine and I were amazed to see Chevrolet advertising its "head to head" campaign, on television, with the offer, "go to Edmunds.com and click on Head to Head." Mmmm. You are spending literally $millions/month to promote the wholesomeness of the Chevy brand and you tell me...the potential buyer...to go to Edmunds.com? And here I thought Chevrolet had its own web site to promote Chevrolet...
As a web literate automotive cognoscenti, I smelled the cheese in the proverbial mousetrap so I quickly moused my way over to Edmunds in search of the "Head to Head" comparison advertised. Living in Motown means we have frequent sightings of the Chevrolet Cobalt (GM's competitor for the almighty Civic and Corolla) bifurcating our snow-covered roads. Perhaps Chevrolet's products had improved so much that Edmunds was recommending Chevrolet. Or, GM had somehow convinced Edmunds to say, "nice things" on behalf of Chevrolet for letting them promote the Edmunds name on national television. Because...why else would GM promote Edmunds?
Here's what we found:
Nice clean comparison. Prices, Market value, yada, yada. We thought, let's click on comparison since we're ostensibly shopping Cobalt and trying to figure out...why is a Cobalt $2-$3,000 more expensive than the top selling Corolla and Civic -- especially since every ad emanating from the Ren Cen (GM HQ) talks discount? That's when the wheels came off the proverbial wagon/Cobalt. Here's what we found in the "opinions."
Some nice comments in the "pros" section to make up for the fact that the Cobalt is $ thousands more than its competition...then the coup de grace (for those who can't read the fine print),
Cheap interior plastics, cramped backseat, dire lack of interior storage, dull handling, mediocre fit and finish.
I can't speak to the advantages/disadvantages of the Cobalt vs. its competition because I haven't driven all of them. Clearly, the consumer has voted and to date, the victors are Civic and Corolla by virtue of their huge retail sales leads. And you have to admire Edmunds for not pulling any punches in its comparisons while still getting the almighty ad dollar to pay for its editorial staff. What we find odd is that with so much negative news in the air about GM, its struggling product line and its potential for Chapter 11, someone in marketing decides to hang out a lantern, glass jaw in an all-out barroom brawl and then pay a bonus to the first person that punches them in the mouth. To analogize during Oscar season, when you see studios promoting their movies, they don't ask you to read a review that proclaims,
"...a cheap production, dull storyline with mediocre cinematography."I don't get it.
Here's our recommendation. Call Edmunds and ask permission to use the snippet,
"Strong acceleration with any drivetrain, smooth and quiet ride, solid brakes, good crash test scores."Forget the rest.