You can always shock viewers into buying your Brand

Watch this commercial before reading the post.

Last night I watched an episode of Mad Men where Harry Crane, the new head of the new television department at Sterling Cooper (It’s season 2) almost got fired because he allowed a Maytag commercial to appear in a TV programme related to communism.

He nearly lost his job because the brand didn’t want to be associated with a contentious or negative issue. This has been a standard approach of brands over the years which is why you won’t see a commercial for an airline aired on a programme about aviation disasters or a commercial for an automotive company in a programme that features a car crash.

Well that used to be the case. Recently Volkswagen in Hong Kong and O&M created an this campaign solely for cinema audiences. It’s interactive and gets the viewers attention.

I like the ad but I’d like to know more about it. What is it for, is it to sell cars? Or is it a public service exercise? If the former, does it send the right message and will consumers remember the brand for the right reason? If the latter, does it make a difference? Such ads don’t stop people smoking, taking drugs or drink driving so why will this one work?

Like I say it’s a great bit of creativity. VW had a record year in 2013, selling 2.51 million cars in China and Hong Kong. This will certainly help VW stay top of consumer’s minds. But I think Harry Crane is turning in his grave. That’s not a plot spoiler. Well I don’t think so as I’m only on season 2!


Dodge seeks survival with mass economy approach

Chrysler has, like most US auto manufacturers, with the exception perhaps of Ford, seen its market share drop further in 2009. But this time it is down below the psychological 10% barrier at 8.9%, down from 11% in 2008. Sales are down a worrying 40% over the same period. This is not good, especially as the company stated in early 2001 that it intended to have 20% of the US market by 2005.

A restructuring plan in November 2009 introduced a number of initiatives including using models from Europe to mask the fact that Chrysler has made little investment in new products.

In what has become a depressingly familiar process, executives at the restructuring also introduced a number of new positioning strategies for the Jeep, Ram and Dodge brands. According to the executives, new models are to be redesigned or improved in times quicker than ever known to the industry. Ambitious sales figures include global sales targets of 2.8 million vehicles by the year 2014, of which about 60% are projected to be in the US. The firm forecast break even in 2010 and anticipated posting a profit in 2011. Revenues are forecast to be in the region of US$70 billion.

Specific brand initiatives include the biggest marketing budget for the Jeep brand in four years. Showrooms are to be redesigned to reflect off road heritage and Jeep managers will engage more with consumers at events. Meanwhile at Dodge, another new logo has been created to reflect a ‘sporty, youthful, inexpensive’ car. New entry level cars are to be available in different ‘flavors’ or equipped ‘differently’ not ‘expensively’. Are there such words as ‘differently’ or ‘expensively’?

Ralph V. Gilles was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of the Dodge Car Brand in October 2009, with full profit and loss responsibility for the Dodge car product portfolio. Before this he was VP of design. He is responsible for halting the Dodge slide but to do so he is going to need more than a new positioning strategy, new logos and a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing. Unfortunately the signs are not good as he has appointed Wieden & Kennedy, an advertising agency to build the Dodge brand.

Gilles is on record as saying that Dodge cars are, “Cars that make you feel good, that are niche-like in their demeanor, but have mass appeal.” Well I’m sorry, but that sounds to me like a one-size-fits-all typical mass marketing ad agency driven concept that will, in the end, appeal to nobody.

What do you think?