AdSpotting: BMW 5 Series “Refuel” reintroduces us to The Ultimate Driving Machine

Filed under: Sedan, Performance, Marketing/Advertising, Videos, BMW, Luxury

BMW 5 Series Refuel ad

Company: BMWa

Brand: BMW

Medium: TV

Ad Agency: Grey West

Product: 2011 5 Series

Campaign: 5 Series “Refuel”

What We Like: The swagger is back at BMW. After more than a year of fooling around with “Joy” as a lead ad positioning, a new marketing team at the German automaker is re-emphasizing “The Ultimate Driving Machine” as the brand’s central positioning. The 30-second ad contains what many BMW followers like – a fast car and a big plane. No, the plane, which looks to be a Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, is not hovering so close to the 5 that it could fill the guy’s coffee cup. But the CGI is good enough to pull off the visual trick.

What We Don’t Like: Not much at all. Getting a story and message across in a 30-second TV ad is not easy. But BMW and this ad agency, Grey West, did a nice job of conveying a fuel efficiency story.

Strategy: BMW marketing chief Dan Creed, who took over at BMW North America a few months ago, is all about re-affirming “The Ultimate Driving Machine” as Bimmer’s main message. At the New York Auto Show, he walked us to the front of BMW’s stand to look at a giant rendering of the ad slogan, which dates back to the early 1970s. At last year’s show, there was a giant banner that proclaimed “Joy of Driving.” “We know there is a lot of joy in driving a BMW, but we are going to show it in pictures and film rather than say it,” says Creed.

It’s worth noting that as fun as this ad is, the message is about the 5 Series’ fuel economy, not the horsepower. BMW is trying to broaden its message to be more inclusive of men and women, as well as tell its story about its investments in the South Carolina plant that produces X3 and X5. But Creed also wants the brand and the cars to show some leg when it comes to marketing and advertising. BMW remains an exciting brand, and a premiere stable of driving machines. That shouldn’t be lost when telling the broader story.

BMW is kicking off a review for a new ad agency. It parted ways with Austin-based GSD&M late last year. New York-based Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners produced last February’s Super Bowl ads. Grey West, which has handled BMW’s retail and pre-owned advertising since 2008, produced the ad and will presumably get a crack at the whole enchilada.

Grade: A-

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AdSpotting: BMW 5 Series “Refuel” reintroduces us to The Ultimate Driving Machine originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 29 Apr 2011 18:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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AdSpotting: Jeep Compass “Bloodlines” has a steep hill to climb

Filed under: Marketing/Advertising, Crossover, Chrysler, Jeep

Jeep Compass Bloodlines ad

Jeep Compass Bloodlines ad – Click above to watch after the jump

Company: Chrysler LLC

Brand: Jeep

Medium: TV

Ad Agency: GlobalHue

Product: 2011 Jeep Compass

Campaign: Bloodlines

What We Like: The editing and look of the ad fits with the excellent Jeep Grand Cherokee ads that agency Wieden & Kennedy created last year. There is an urban feel to this TV spot that is probably fitting for a vehicle like Compass, which has not had much positive said or written about since it first hit showrooms in 2007. There is authority, emotion and value in the Jeep brand, and re-igniting that for consumers is a good idea.

What We Don’t Like: Now for the bad news. For people who know Jeep and the Compass, not to mention the new Hawaii Five-O TV show, this ad has a lot of problems. For sure, the Compass has been much improved for the 2011 model year. We are not only impressed with what the new Chrysler team managed with a new interior and trim, but with how we were able to crawl snow-covered creek beds in Wyoming when we tested the new car. But the bones of this vehicle are highly suspect to the real Jeep fan and student of the brand. “Iconic beauty,” reads the voiceover in the ad. “A legendary bloodline.” To people who know something about the Compass, that is way, way, way over the top. There isn’t anything in common between the Compass and the new Jeep Grand Cherokee, which is a terrific piece of work, except the logo and some talented, passionate engineers who did the best they could with the marginal vehicle they started with.

And in making the “Bloodlines” case… Laila Ali? Seriously? And actor Scott Caan? Not only are these two figures the barest shadows of their fathers (wait…maybe they do work for this ad), but in the only role Scott Caan is really known for (with respect to the reborn Oceans franchise, we’re talking about the new Hawaii Five-O), he is completely linked to a Chevy Camaro, part of the product placement deal General Motors worked out, which has Chevrolet vehicles all over the show. In one recent show, both Caan and the bad guy were driving Camaros. And Caan’s character, Danno, would never be caught driving a Compass.

Strategy: Play up the brand equity of the Jeep brand for all the products even if some of the current products don’t measure up. We can see how the company and agency arrived at this idea. After all, they have to sell the Compass for another 16 months or so until an all-new vehicles come in to replace it. The Compass has had very little cred in the marketplace, especially with repeat Jeep buyers. This may be the only way to juice up sales a little for the rest of the time it is marketed. The new Compass is much improved, and should get a more serious look from would-be Subaru Legacy buyers. But the halo placed on this model is a bit too much for us.

Grade: C

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AdSpotting: Jeep Compass “Bloodlines” has a steep hill to climb originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 08 Apr 2011 16:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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AdSpotting: Porsches For Everyday People

Filed under: Performance, Marketing/Advertising, Porsche

Porsche 911 as School Bus

Porsche’s latest commercial – Click above to watch after the jump

Company: Porsche Cars North America

Brand: Porsche

Medium: TV

Ad Agency: Cramer/Krasselt, Chiacgo.

Product: 911, Cayman

Campaign: Engineered For Magic. Everyday.

What We Like: The soundtrack, and the depiction of people using their Porsche sports cars for everyday driving and living is a nice change of pace for the brand and the ad work. We especially like the scene of the 911 trudging through snow, which it does with great aplomb thanks to a superior all-wheel-drive system. Porsches are seen as indulgences for men mostly that are often kept in garages under tarps when the snow falls. I’m not sure I would ever load mulch into a Cayman, but we do like the idea of the kids getting picked up from school. The yellow paint job for that 911 was a lovely touch by the ad creatives.

What We Don’t Like: Not too much, though there is a bit of the strategy showing. The economy is still about as zippy as a Smart Fortwo and there’s much talk about the lines and definition of luxury changing to more value and sensibility, all of which makes this campaign seem a little defensive to us.

Strategy: Porsches is not as impractical as you think. They can be great in the snow. You can get enough mulch in one to fill one of those upside-down tomato growers that hangs on your condo patio. A 911 can carry two small kids in the backseat, provided they are not part of the national obesity problem. We think Porsches, especially the 911, are fabulous sets of wheels that anyone would be proud to own for maximum driving excitement and brand appeal. But practical? Not on your Nellie.

Grade: B+

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AdSpotting: Porsches For Everyday People originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 28 Mar 2011 19:27:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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AdSpotting: Buick using March Madness to sell Regal Turbo

Buick Regal CXL Turbo commercial

Buick Regal CXL Turbo commercial – Click above to watch video

Company: General Motors

Brand: Buick

Medium: TV

Ad Agency: Leo Burnett

Product: Regal Turbo

Campaign: Regal Turbo/NCAA

What We Like: The cinematography of the Regal in this spot makes the car look even better than it does when it sits in your driveway. And if your TV or computer speakers are any good at all, the sound of the engine and the turbo comes through. This is a simple ad, and the simplest messages are generally the most effective. “Turbo. Buick. Turbo. Buick. Get used to the sound.” We like that they are not loading us up with the car’s stats, as well. You can always get that stuff online anyway. The ad pretty effectively says, “This car looks good, sounds good and, dude, has a turbo! Yeah, we know it’s a brand that’s normally associated with Fred Mertz, ‘Mr. C’ from Happy Days or pretty much any Junior High School principal. But, seriously, it’s worth checking out.” We agree.

What We Don’t Like: The driver looks a little too much like Rocco DiSpirito, or a Men’s Health metro-sexual, and that’s just annoying. But we are pretty sure that was what the ad agency was going for. We say we like the ad’s simplicity, but is it too simple? Is this going to keep the average bloke from leaving the couch to refill his beer or nutbowl during a commercial break in March Madness? Maybe there could have been more of a hook in the copy… or a female? Or maybe we are just looking for things to poke at because we have to.

Strategy: Oldsmobile is gone. Pontiac is gone. Saturn is gone. Hummer is gone. Saab is sold. Thank the Chinese for saving Buick. They see Buick as some sort of Cadillac-Mercedes hybrid. Go figure. General Motors sells more of the tri-shield vehicles in the land of the Great Wall than in the land of the Grand Canyon. GM is pitching Buick as “luxury,” and says there is room for both Buick and Cadillac in the company’s luxury play, that they appeal to different luxury buyers. We think Buick appeals to luxury buyers who have lost a lot of money in the market, and had to sell their stuff, including the Mercedes, to keep junior in Country Day School. But there is no denying that the LaCrosse, Regal and Enclave are vehicles we would not be ashamed to drive to the dance, the kid’s soccer game, or poker night. But luxury? Wethinks Buick doth need to find another way to communicate what it stands for. Oh, by the way, thanks for the turbo.

Grade: B

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AdSpotting: Buick using March Madness to sell Regal Turbo originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 23 Mar 2011 15:32:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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AdSpotting: Ford goes global with Focus, but will it entice?

Filed under: Budget, Sedan, Marketing/Advertising, Videos, Hatchback, Ford

Ford’s global Focus campaign – Click above to watch commercials

Company: Ford Motor Co.

Brand: Ford

Medium: TV

Ad Agency: Team Detroit/WPP Global

Product: Focus

Campaign: Global Focus Launch

What We Like: The all-new Focus is a moonshot better than the Focus we’ve had in the U.S. for the last decade. While Europe got a new Focus during the Bush Administration, the U.S. got an insufficiently upgraded model with a pretty low-rent interior and no hatchback version. These new ads do a slick job of conveying that the new Focus is, in fact, new and possessing features people wouldn’t expect in an economy-priced car. The seriousness of the orchestral soundtrack and the messaging may elevate the Focus above the riff-raff of the sub-compact segment. One recent Hyundai Elantra ad, for example, had a sheep driving. Kia likes Hamsters to push its cars.

What We Don’t Like: To make these ads work globally and achieve the cost savings Ford was seeking, there is a lowest common denominator look and feeling to the ads Ford previewed for us. The visuals were specifically shot so they could be edited to run any place in the world with some easy editing to adapt to local needs and language. But the ads – while conveying useful information about what is, let’s face it, a very rational new-car selection – aren’t all that interesting. They certainly aren’t entertaining – at least not the first batch we got to see. The question is whether the features spotlighted in the ads will be engaging to viewers, and make them curious enough to investigate the new Focus on the Internet.

Strategy: Ford is launching the Ford Focus, it’s first truly global car under the Mulally regime, with an ambitious global ad campaign. The agency has produced some 50 TV ads to run in Ford’s markets across the world, all highlighting technology and innovation like self-closing grille vents (active grille shutters), stop-start fuel saving technology (for Europe) and the like. The Focus is a critically important car for Ford, both financially and for credibility worldwide, and Ford officials say they saved tens of millions of dollars, perhaps in excess of 100 million, by getting all the markets across the world to pool their thinking and draw from a common bank of video, photography and soundtracks. That savings is being plowed back into media buys, helping each market better hit its sales targets.

Grade: B

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AdSpotting: Ford goes global with Focus, but will it entice? originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 04 Mar 2011 15:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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AdSpotting: Ford Explorer gets funny with Kevin Hart

Filed under: Marketing/Advertising

Kevin Hart's 2011 Ford Explorer Wedding Commercial

Kevin Hart’s 2011 Ford Explorer commercial – Click above to watch after the jump

Company: Ford Motor Co.

Brand: Ford

Medium: TV

Ad Agency: The UniWorld Group,

Product: Explorer

Campaign: “Crazy Kevin.”

What We Like: Humor often works better than painful earnestness to spotlight certain vehicle features in a typical SUV. Kevin Hart has a certain poor man’s Chris Rock likability. The ad has a story, with a beginning and an end instead of a prattle of feature benefits.

What We Don’t Like: Not much except the ad could be funnier to really take advantage of Hart’s talents. The jokes aren’t quite sharp enough. There was probably funnier stuff that came out of working with him, and that may have been left on rejected storyboard. Ford has a habit of smoothing out what might have been an edgy idea creative because it’s too afraid of being risky with ad content.

Strategy: Ford wants to capitalize on Kevin Hart’s brand of humor, which typically centers on his life as a husband and father. The ads will extend into TV, radio, print and digital. Each ad is meant to play up some aspect of the redesigned 2011 Explorer, such as its “Terrain Management System” (TMS) and inflatable rear seatbelts. The kickoff features Hart showing up shockingly late for his brother’s wedding in a 2011 Ford Explorer. As he speeds into the wedding he creates a disturbance where the Explorer steals the spotlight from the bride and groom. During the ad, Hart highlights TMS and how he traveled through sand and mud to arrive at the wedding. He also shows off Explorer’s seven-passenger seating capacity by packing the entire rear of the vehicle with wedding gifts – all while cheering on the “crazy” factor of the SUV.

Grade: B

What do you think? Watch the ads for yourself after the jump.

Continue reading AdSpotting: Ford Explorer gets funny with Kevin Hart

AdSpotting: Ford Explorer gets funny with Kevin Hart originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 21 Feb 2011 14:46:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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AdSpotting: Dodge Charger gets the “Never Neutral” treatment

Filed under: Sedan, Performance, Marketing/Advertising, Dodge

2011 Dodge Charger

2011 Dodge Charger Never Neutral ads – Click above to watch after the jump

Company: Chrysler

Brand: Dodge

Medium: TV Ad

Ad Agency: Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Oregon.

Product: 2011 Dodge Charger

Campaign: “Never Neutral”

What We Like: The re-do on the 2011 Dodge Charger turned a car that was one half of a two-suits-for-the-price-of-one deal into a slick, polished and nicely sprung sedan that now earns our respect. The “Never Neutral” marketing campaign debuted last week at the Chicago Auto Show and comes across in these ads as a decent tag-line for the Charger. We like the attitude that the Charger is a car for people who still enjoy real driving, don’t moan about pumping their own gas and aren’t necessarily swayed by the reputations of other brands that are now bigger than their current sheet-metal supports. In these two ads, Chrysler takes aim squarely at Google’s self-driving car and Mitsubishi’s online test drive “experience”, (though picking on Mitsubishi at this point is like taunting Urkel), as well as referencing the Matrix movies, which never hurts.

What We Don’t Like: Making a statement about the Dodge brand being for real drivers and sticking a thumb in the eye of a couple of competitors is all well and good, but could we get some edgier writing here? All they could come up with to ridicule Mitsubishi’s online test-drive is, “That’s absurd.” As we used to say in the newspaper biz, “Get me rewrite!”

Strategy: Dodge is positioning itself as the brand of vehicles for those who appreciate that Detroit is still the capital of car-making in the U.S., and that driving a responsive automobile is a fine American value. We absolutely loved the ad from 2010 showing George Washington leading his troops into battle against the British redcoats in Dodge Challengers, and we like the similar attitude on display here. But this approach to selling Dodge’s new image around Americana, American values and for people who relish having a real set of wheels is a bit of a high wire act dependent on the creative teams batting well above .500.

Grade: B-

What do you think? Watch the ads for yourself after the jump.

Continue reading AdSpotting: Dodge Charger gets the “Never Neutral” treatment

AdSpotting: Dodge Charger gets the “Never Neutral” treatment originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 14 Feb 2011 19:25:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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