New Audi short film sends Carrie Mathison to jail


Okay, here we have yet another beautifully executed short film, this time from Audi featuring not one but two Claire Danes or is it Dans? Desperate to get to New York, she has to make a choice between making the almost 700 mile journey in a chauffeur driven non descript American tank or drive herself in a Audi A6 Diesel.

The film imagines, in an amusing, if predictable way what the journey would be like in each vehicle. So the chauffeur turns out to be a massive bore who used to be in a band (unnecessary surgery) and happens to have a tape with him. And the clunky dashboard still accepts tape. Of course the car needs to stop for petrol and gets a puncture and they meet some strange people and finally Claire Danes gets arrested (not sure why) and ends up in jail.

The alternative journey in the Audi features the star driving herself to New York. Of course this journey is the complete opposite, all autumn colours, perfect sunset, calming music, open spaces and time for a picnic with puppies, yes puppies. She makes it to New York in plenty of time and everything is fine and as she’s about to go on stage she manages to squeeze in a line about the Audi fuel efficiency.

Meanwhile, in the alternative journey she ends up in a dive where she may meet an old flame.

All good clean fun I suppose.

Advertising campaigns need to be integrated across the organisation


Recently I wrote a post about my experiences when I called the number on a billboard selling a luxury automotive brand. You can read the full article here

Basically I talked about how I rang this brand after seeing a billboard outside my office. I got through to the receptionist who asked for my number and said she would get someone from sales to call me back. Nobody called me back, even though the car costs about RM500,000 (US$166,000)! I thought this was an excellent example of why so many brands fail. But I didn’t think much more about it.

Then today I was sitting at a traffic light outside Bangsar Shopping Complex and I saw the same company had another billboard, this time it was advertising their jaw dropping top of the range V10 sports car that costs over RM1,250,000 (US$420,000) in Malaysia. Now this really is an exclusive motor and in the middle of last year there were orders for about 240 of them in the UK and a waiting list of 12 months. If they are only selling 250 odd in the UK I would expect them to sell no more than 50 in Malaysia. So you have to question why they market such an exclusive product on a billboard.

But this is not a rant about using old mass market mass economy models to sell luxury brands, this is about the fact that it is imperative that marketing campaigns are integrated and organisational excellence is at the heart of any tactical campaign.

And I know it isn’t at the heart of this campaign because whilst waiting for the lights to change I decided to call the number on the billboard and see what sort of a response I would get.

I called the number. No answer. Now it was 5.17pm and perhaps the receptionist has gone home. But I doubt the sales team had gone home. I bet they were sitting around wondering how to drive traffic to the showroom so they can make target this month and get a nice juicy bonus for Chinese New Year. Perhaps at least one of them might have been wondering why the expensive outdoor campaign they’ve been running for some time hasn’t generated any results!

I’ve tried to go and see these guys but the marketing manager tells me they are doing well. Here are some basic principles to abide by when you run an advertising campaign so that when you are doing well, you can do better.

1) You advertise on billboards to stimulate, inform, persuade etc. If you want to inform perhaps a 100 people in the country about a luxury product, spending large amounts of money on billboards or for that matter print ads in daily newspapers, is a complete waste of marketing dollars.
2) Consumers who can afford to spend over 1 million Ringgit on a car are unlikely to keep to your office hours. Make it easy for them to spend money with you.
3) Your advertising copy should appeal to a specific audience – in this case, those who can afford over RM1,250,000 on a car – everyone else is just getting in the way. So create copy that will resonates with that target market. This ad just mentioned the engine capacity and that was it! Ever wondered why mini does so well?
4) Develop metrics for measuring channel effectiveness. A simple metric for outdoor ads is a specially assigned number for that campaign.
5) Outdoor advertising is 24 hours. That’s probably one reason why you bought it in the first place! If you can’t have someone on standby 24 hours a day, install an answering machine or after office hours have calls diverted to a sales manager or sales director.

These are elementary and should be included in any strategy document created by a brand consultant.

Build a brand with the basics


Right near my office at Phileo Damansara in Petaling Jaya, a luxury German auto manufacturer has two billboards advertising its top of the range luxury autos. One is a saloon and the other is an SUV. I like this particular SUV so much that if I was still putting posters up on my bedroom wall, the SUV would be front and centre.

This company also has a number of billboards at other locations around the city of Kuala Lumpur and in the suburbs featuring a smaller version of the SUV (for which there is a 1 year waiting list) and other versions of the saloon. It also spends a lot of money on print ads and recently advertised their top end coupe in a Malaysian daily and a Malaysian business weekly.

Cars in Malaysia are expensive as import duties can go as high as 300% for luxury vehicles. The full page full colour ad with standard automotive blurb also stated the price of over RM1,000,000 (US$333,000). At that price, there are probably no more than a handful of people in the country who can afford the car. Even if there are a 100 or even a 1,000 people in the country who can afford the car, full page ads in national newspapers are probably not the most cost effective channels to communicate with those people.

Now I’ve actually approached this particular organisation in the past to ask if we can come in a make a capabilities presentation. We didn’t get past the marketing manager who basically said that as sales were very good there was no point meeting us.

Judging by recent reports, the company is certainly doing well after the launch of new models in 2008. In fact, the company claims to have been Malaysia’s fastest growing luxury car brand in that year with sales up an impressive 102%. Moreover, sales continued to climb in the first 6 months of 2010 with sales up 66% over the same period in 2009. Impressive figures and the company now claims to have about 5% of the luxury market in Malaysia.

Anyway, seeing this billboard on a daily basis with the telephone number prominently displayed, was beginning to get on my nerves. So I decided to call the number. After all, if you advertise your products on a billboard and display your telephone number, one can only assume that you want prospects like me to call you.

And if a prospect calls that number you better have the processes and systems in place to ensure that the person receiving the call passes it on to the right department. And you better have the right processes and systems in place to ensure that the next person in the process does what they are supposed to do. In this particular case, call the prospect back. Especially when we’re talking about a luxury product.

So anyway, I called the number and asked for information about the top of the range SUV. The receptionist was very pleasant and explained that she would get someone from the sales department to call me back. I gave her my mobile number and waited for the call. That was last Thursday, today is Sunday and I still haven’t heard anything. Bear in mind this vehicle costs over RM500,000 (US$166,000).

Generally the point of billboards is to create awareness. A telephone number is there in the hope that the keen, desperate consumer who wants the product so much that he will take the time to record the number and follow through with a call. Of course most of us just ignore billboards and the messages on them. Indeed, it’s rare for a prospect to call. But there are always incoming calls that may just result in an easy sale to one person who may become a customer for life so if you don’t have those basic processes and systems in place to take the information and pass it on, what is the point of advertising?

Here are some more tips that will help this company improve its profitability, the most important metric for branding:

1) The era of the global ad buy is over. Different markets require different communications strategies. Whilst it may make sense to create awareness of a luxury product via national papers in relatively wealthy western markets, it is a waste of money in developing markets where the demand for luxury products is limited to only a few.

2) Brand building is about the long term. When you launch new products they will, if you are extremely lucky, fly off the shelves or out of the showroom. But this is the exception, not the rule. And anyway, this doesn’t mean that you can become complacent, sit back, put your feet up and relax. Your competition will soon catch up and your moment in the limelight will soon be over.

3) The whole point of mass market advertising such as billboards and newspaper ads is to create awareness with mass markets. That is why weekend copies of daily newspapers are full of ads for hypermarkets, supermarkets, discount stores, sales and so on. But luxury products require more than a mass market tactic to make a sale. If you must use these old fashioned tools, use them to develop a database of prospects so that you can qualify those prospects and invite them to your showroom if you think they have potential.

4) Many companies will have a system in place to act on incoming enquiries. But who is responsible for ensuring those enquiries are acted on? The system must also ensure incoming enquiries are reported to sales management so that they can follow up with the sales department.

5) Brands are built on offerings of economic, experiential and emotional value. That journey begins with the first contact. It doesn’t matter how much you spend on advertising, if you can’t deliver that value, prospects will go elsewhere.

Now I’m going to call BMW to get more information on the X5.