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  • Writer's picturetamera

The automakers and ’safe marketing’

I’m not surprised Nissan would come out in favour of increased spend online and in alternative mediums vs. traditional broadcast. They’re kinda hip as a company after all. But I’m not all that sure of what this ‘call to arms’ will do in terms of changing how the Big 3 (GM, Ford, Chrysler) market themselves. Now don’t get me wrong, those companies DO advertise online, but in order to maximize the channel they have to be willing to carve out a significant chunk of their ad budgets and go full force into it. You can’t do online on a shoe string. I’m not just talking about banner ads or flash pieces, there are hundreds of ways car companies can maximize the technology and medium and get their product out in a meaningful way… with reach.

Sure, Honda (about whom I will have a post soon re: the Element campaign), Toyota, Nissan, BMW, et al are building communities, using CGM and viral elements online, but that’s because their business philosophy stems from a different place. They focused on the niche, the under-served market and on building superior products and design, or next gen tech and environmental impact. They didn’t try to make their car all things to all people, they picked a target market (i.e. the Honda Civic and “Civic Nation” which appealed to youth, when at the time, the market for Civic’s was primarily dominated by older demos) and spoke to them. They have the types of products that enable them to get involved in online communities and not be afraid of feedback. They have products people want to talk about.

The funny thing is that the Big 3 have those types of products as well, the Mustang or PTS Cruiser come to mind, but the organizations have been typically slow to embrace change and take chances. Hopefully the baby steps into search and CGM General Motors has embarked on will provide them learning and ideas to keep moving forward and engaging their customers or prospects… and boy do I have a lot of thoughts on the Google/ Pontiac tag on their TV spots… but I’m glad they did it anyway.

TV and traditional media will always be a big part of auto marketing… part of the appeal of vehicles is the ‘beauty’ or ’sexiness’ factor of a car. And it’s easy to showcase that and appeal to the emotions with images… what TV is a master of. Of course, what they need to do is branch out into using the web to convey those aspirational images and let consumers help shape the brand, and ultimately, the products.

Hopefully the wake up call from Nissan will be a further step in the right direction.

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