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Thursday, October 22, 2009


Analyzing Ad Agencies or "How to build better car marketing"

Disagree with the tenor of this article by Mr. Zimmerman of Zimmerman Partners, CEO of the Omnicom agency (Omnicom is in a difficult review on the Chrysler account). Generic analysis yields generic results. Car purchase is the most highly considered purchase...other than maybe choosing your spouse/next spouse. You can't build confidence in a poor product with advertising. Just like a fake match.com profile won't fool you in real life.

Advertising is the least influential of all the messages about a car/truck. The most influential is word of mouth, personal experience, testimonials and reviews. None of which can be influenced with super bowl tickets or other form of clever media bribes. Do we really think people watch ads and think, "yeah,...I believe that!"

The experience each of us has with the product, and what we tell our friends and neighbors about it matter 10x of the ad and ad campaign. No amount of advertising could fix the Escort and no amount of bad advertising could un-sell the Camry over the past 20 years. It's a simple mathematical formula that ignores ad budgets and executions. I would argue that Camry has had the worst advertising, consistently, over 30 years. Can't remember any of it. I do remember VW and Jeep ads. Just some very uneven product executions.

The whole, "let's review the agency" circus is counter productive. Basically, most of the people get re-hired at the new agency anyway and get pushed around by clients like peas and mashed potatoes on a plate. However, the executives at the car company and/or the cars themselves...rarely change.

Regarding VW...they had the worst quality of any car for many years running. Although they've improved, there are still many angry former VW owners running around telling shoppers..."DON'T BUY IT."

Here's a thought. Want to improve brand recognition? Give your car a memorable name and make sure it's readable in traffic. By doubling the type size someone can actually say...hmmm...that must be an Oldsmobile Alero.


My point about generic? Chevrolet has amazing durability as a "brand." Think trucks. Very, very loyal group of return buyers. For both Chevy and Ford. The American car companies abandoned the car market a long time ago because they failed in efficiency for decades and failed to compete effectively with Toyota and Honda. Now, they are making a comeback. Watch closely...Both Ford and Chevy have produced some very interesting small cars in the past few years and the quality gap is shrinking...in fact is probably gone. Now the race moves to technology, design and the ability to customize to consumer tastes through variable and lean manufacturing. Advertising is, frankly, the A** end in that equation.

From a Former anti-generic ad guy

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