Posts Tagged ‘car of the year’

Ford Motor Company continues to separate itself from the other domestic automakers with a double win at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. On Monday, January 11, Ford was selected as the winner of both the prestigious Car of the Year (Ford Fusion Hybrid)) and Truck of the Year (Transit Connect van) awards. This marks the first time in 17 years, and only the third time in history, that a single brand has won both awards in the same year. The Ford Fusion Hybrid was also selected as Motor Trend Magazine’s Car of the Year this past November.

In recent months, Ford has gained consumer notice for not only its innovative design, but has seen unprecedented market share growth, increasing domestic share-of-market 14 out of the last 15 months. Ford’s domestic share stands at 17.3% and category-leader GM’s share, falling to 19.8%, is clearly within Ford’s sights.

The fact that Ford was the only domestic automaker to not solicit government bailout funding as well as the single domestic auto company to avoid bankruptcy has created “atta boy!” status with consumers and the American public at large. Consumers seem to appreciate the fact that the company can continue to be viable without the aid of taxpayer money.

Ford’s ONE Ford plan posits that cars built for the global market rather than different versions and sub brands for specific markets are the process needed in today’s marketplace. This bodes well as China is now seen as the largest potential market for US-made cars.

Like Driving an iPhone

Critically, Ford seem to understand more than most other vehicle manufacturers that the user experience is crucial to branding and sales. Ford’s SYNC in-car communications system melds music, entertainment, information and communications into one unit. Much like the iPod became a category leader because of the user experience and thousands of applications created by users, Jim Farley, Group VP of Marketing at Ford says “The bottom line is, when you enter your car, it should be as cool as your iPhone. My point of view is that we create an open platform like iPhone and let the applications flow based on Sync. This seems odd, since you would think we want dollars, but we want the Sync community to grow and these applications are more creative than we can create.” Ford’s SYNC is an open platform and Fraley hopes that developers will create unique apps for the system, much like the process that fueled the iPhone app phenomena.

Marketing Revamp Rivals Company Re-org

Farley also stated in a live-chat from the Detroit show that Ford is placing 25% of it’s traditional media budget in interactive and that social media will play a critical role.

We need to have enough creative horsepower to come up with unique ideas that viewers will find fun,” he said. “The advantages are credibility and efficiency.”

Ford CEO Allen Mulally was an early adapter to Twitter, and Ford seems to “get” social media better than its rivals. US efforts will be, er, focused on the launch of the Ford Focus, the first global platform car, and the Ford Fiesta. Fiesta’s effort will be the second iteration of “Fiesta Movement,” a successful effort from last year where a group of “influencers” were given Ford Fiestas to drive and then they blogged about it. This year’s version will be more “car” centric than the previous one.

The Ford Focus campaign will see the bulk of activity between April and October with a lot of web and social media programs.

Ford does some innovative things such as a dedicated time when CEO Allen Mulally can interact with consumers via social media. And, while the other makers were using traditional media and PR at the Detroit show, Ford was all over social media (the Farley quotes used above came from that effort). Ford’s Director of Social Media Scott Monty has one of the more perceptive Fortune 500 company social media strategies and he blogs about it.

What do you think of Ford’s strategy? Would you consider a Ford Fusion Hybrid when pruchasing or leasing your next car?


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Hyundai reminds us once again that there are no rules in the art of marketing. This is particularly true in the current economic environment. Those marketers who embrace this philosophy can outperform the market both in brand-building and sales success.

I was reminded of this marketing tenant the other day when I read that Hyundai’s Genesis was selected for the prestigious Car of the Year award at the start of the 2009 Detroit auto show.

Hyundai has made great strides in a decade. Just ten years ago, Hyundai had little brand credence. Car buyers did not hold Hyundai in great esteem. After all, what kind of car could come from Korea? Certainly, nothing with any reliability could be manufactured there.

Ten years ago, in order to gain consumer notice, brand traction and sales, Hyundai threw out the rule that said that automotive warranties could only be for three or five years. Hyundai announced the industry’s first 10 year / 100,000 mile powertrain warranty. The result was almost instantaneous. Buyers correctly reasoned that if the manufacturer felt confident enough to warranty the powertrain for ten years, then the vehicles must be well built, and sales accelerated as did brand acceptance.

A few weeks ago, Hyundai once again broke the rules. As most automotive marketers agonized that consumers who were in fear of losing their jobs certainly wouldn’t consider a new vehicle purchase, Hyundai did something different.

They launched the Hyundai Assurance Program that states that buyers who experience an involuntary loss of income or are impacted by certain other adverse conditions may return their vehicles within 12 months of the purchase date. The program covers depreciation of up to $7,500. Of course, there are details and conditions, but the fact remains that this is unprecedented in realm of automotive sales and marketing.

Then again, there’s that rule that a Korean automaker can’t build a car targeted at upscale drivers. When Toyota and Honda contemplated this many years ago, they determined that it couldn’t be done as an extension of their current brands, and thus Lexus and Infiniti were born. Hyundai thought about this, but said, “No, we’ll just be Hyundai,” and launched the Genesis. In retrospect, the winning of the Car of the Year under the Hyundai name further enhances Hyundai as a brand.

Hyundai understands that it’s OK to break the rules. And they have the trophy to prove it.

Where is this leading us?  In this economic environment and the extraordinary marketing challenges that come with it, those of us who will survive – as in our companies will survive – must look at and challenge everything that we do. If our idea of better marketing is just getting a cheaper rate for what we’ve been doing all along, or, in the case of the automotive marketers, offering even more rebates, then we aren’t going to impact the market.

These posts are attempting to highlight a few marketers who are succeeding by ignoring convention, by really stepping outside of the box to address and meet customer’s needs or pique customer interest. In the next few weeks, we’ll follow up with some processes and tools that you might consider.

Details of Hyundai’s Assurance Program can be seen here:


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