Dayton OH car dealers would do well to follow these rules

 Ad Age Small Agency Diary had a post from Doug Zanger who hails from Portland Ore. It seems bad car dealer ads run from coast to coast.

He gives us 5 (give or take) rules for local car dealers to have better commercials. I doubt any car dealer in Dayton Ohio would bother to read this- or follow the rules, since everyone of them believes they are über creative and smart with their ad dollars.

See if you can figure out what car dealers fit which commandment. My choice list of egregious offenders would include (in no particular order):

Frank Z Chevrolet, Hidy Honda (and now Hidy Ford), Key Chrysler, Prestige Ford, Chuck George Chevrolet, White Allen, Jeff Schmidt, Dave Dennis Dodge- and that’s just for starters.

Advertising Age
Sadly, there are plenty of dealers who still pollute every possible breath of air with that used-car smell. For those egregious offenders, I propose some local-car-advertising commandments. I’ll start with five-ish and invite you to contribute your suggestions to complete the list.

1) Thou Shalt Stop Yelling
This isn’t an air raid. The world won’t come screeching to a halt because the factory authorized an incentive. We know you have to sell cars, but just talk with us about it for goodness sake. Rick Dalbey, creative director at Livengood/Nowack, in Portland, put it best when he said this about auto dealer radio ads: “Think about someone sitting next to you in the car. If they started yelling at you, you would tell them to shut up, wouldn’t you?” Good point.

2) Thou Shalt Stop Using Some Kind of Mascot
OK, Trunk Monkey from R-west in Portland for Suburban Auto Group doesn’t count. That campaign was just flat-out funny. What I’m talking about is an untrained goat, Pickles the family kitty or some college intern dressed as a lobster, all designed to sell cars. Worse yet is animated clip art or a creepy, superimposed mouth on an animal. Unless it’s a dog with opposable thumbs that can actually drive the car, argue with the cop after being pulled over for going 12 miles an hour on the freeway and fight the ticket in court, please stay away from it.

3) Thou Shalt Stay Away from Humor and Your Own Commercials (Unless You Can Pull it Off)
You might fancy yourself funny. Your inner haberdasher may think you’re a riot. That joke about the penguin and the bale of hay always kills at the local watering hole, but we prefer you keep it to yourself. You may also be great in front of a crowd after a few samples of Novortsky Prospekt’s finest, but a fair number of people freeze up like Charlie Brown in a spelling bee when the little red light on the camera blazes up.

4) Thou Shalt Stay Away From 40-Second Disclaimers
I know, you have to use them. But can’t we just keep asking the attorneys general in our states to cut us all some slack and allow you to put all of that crap somewhere other than a radio spot? You hate it. We hate it. If I want to hear someone talk that fast, I can dial up my former intern, my cousin Abby or go to Aqueduct and listen to the call of the fifth race.

5) Thou Shalt Be Proud of Customer Service
If you’ve won an award, cool. Tell us why you won. Those things aren’t easy to win and they shouldn’t be bungled in with the rest of your message. Take pride in the achievement and make that the main point of your message if this is the route you choose. Anyone can find the car they want, but finding honest, good service is another issue. Parker Johnstone, CART driver and owner of a Honda dealership in Wilsonville, Ore., put it best when he once explained to a group of us: “We’re in the service business. We just happen to sell cars.” Johnstone’s shop backs up its claim every time I bring my (paid-for) ’92 Accord in for service. It’s not “just about the deal,” fellas. We’re human. We like to be treated well.

5.5) Thou Shalt Give Us a Shot
Most of us like cars. Most of us are pretty good at advertising and marketing. Let us help you, the dealer, come up with something mind-blowing. There’s some remarkable work out there. (RPA’s work for Honda Element in L.A. is a personal favorite.) It can be done just as well locally if you let us try for you. Ask yourself if what you’re doing is working. If it’s not, give us a call or read “Purple Cow” as fast as possible.

5.75) Thou Shalt Turn Off the Grill
A friggin’ hot dog never sold a car. Neither did popcorn nor balloon animals. Clowns are creepy. A petting zoo may interest me as long as the local health department clears it and there is an ample amount of hand sanitizer for everyone.

The good news is there are a few dealers who don’t break any of these rules- but could still use a more sophisticated, or interesting message.

Face it- the car industry has enough problems foisted upon it by the great “CEO” leaders who remember to pay themselves crazy well- while producing crap cars and flooding the market with dealers and me-too variations. Bad local advertising shouldn’t be adding to the problems.

There are some other commandments in the comments- with a chance to win prizes- so I recommend you head over to the link and see what other creatives add. By the way- I wrote about the Trunk Monkey ads and how local dealers could learn from them long ago here: A car dealer that gets it. 

iPhone and the future of advertising

Photo of iPhoneSell your stock in ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX, say goodbye to the cable companies, and look at Apple, Cingular, Yahoo and Google. Kiss phone books goodbye as well. Credit cards may go away too. The iPhone is coming this June, and it will change the world.
Already, Research in Motion (the Blackberry people), Palm, Motorola and other “Smart Phone” makers stock dropped, and deservedly so. My Treo 700 is a pain in the butt to use and it’s one of the “better smart phones.”
Steve Jobs has 30 years experience in changing the way people and computers interact and with yesterday’s introduction of the iPhone, he showed why Apple is the master of the GUI (Graphical User Interface). First came the mouse, then the click wheel and now- the scrolling gesture and MultiTouch interface (most touch screens can only read one point at a time). All, in all, it’s brilliant. A phone, iPod and Internet device- but, watch out, it may be way more than that.
When the video iPod was introduced, it wasn’t that the iPod could play video that was the groundbreaking news- it was that Apple was selling “free” TV programs for $1.99. The beginning of a la carte programming delivered over IP. Now, with the iPhone and the new Apple TV set top box, we have the “Remote” that pulls everything together, including a billing system (Cingular) and a whole new way for advertisers to reach highly targeted consumers. Just think, your cell phone bill could be subsidized for you agreeing to watch highly targeted content- based on several different criteria to begin with:

  • Your geographic location- cell phones are mini GPS devices, and as Jobs demonstrated the iPhone integration with Google maps/Google local, he showed us the beginning of a brand new way to access advertising, custom crafted to your longitude and latitude.
  • Your buying habits and payment processing might be handled through Google wallet, with you keeping your running account balance on your phone. Phones have been used in Japan to pay vending machines for years, the iPhone brings whole new levels of integration to your pocket.
  • The end of “Sales” for bricks and mortar stores- if your price doesn’t match what comes up in Froogle, you won’t make the sale. The “true browser” with easy input, coupled with a camera that can probably read product bar codes will put so much power in the consumers hand that all retailers will be able to compete on is better service or immediate delivery. Will that be worth paying a premium? Take a look at what the iTunes store has done to the music industry if you need hints.
  • With its superior interface and WiFi/phone system Internet access, the iPhone will allow users to access company websites on it’s small screen. Jobs didn’t show any Flash sites in the demo, but, by partnering with Yahoo and Google- and showcasing the New York Times- he did hint at the importance of CSS coded HTML which scales, and reformats to different screens easier than Flash. If you have a website that is in Flash come June, you will be missing many of the opportunities of true Mobile connectivity.
  • Last but not least, with a real browser- and an 8 gig drive, consumers will be able to carry your ads, your product literature- right to the point of sale- or discuss your products or service over lunch with friends- complete with sound, motion and data. No more need for brochures- even PDF’s online that don’t easily fit the new screen won’t be as handy a well-designed web interface. Think of having infomercials on your site that entertain and allow 2-way feedback- as well as click to buy options- all accessible from anywhere- anytime, in your customer’s pocket.

There is much more to this iPhone than an iPod, Phone, Internet connectivity- there is the first step of the true 1 to 1 revolution.
Apple stock went up 8 points yesterday. Just wait until June and the full power of this new phone is realized- by developers and marketers.
If the phone works as promised, and the reviews are good, Apple’s stock will climb like Googles- and the web will be a whole new place for marketers to (re) learn.

Quotes from Alex Bogusky

Welcome to Room 116: Alex Bogusky says…
Alex Bogusky says…

  • To creatives: “This is your company. What are you going to do to make it famous?”
  • On approach: What’s really going on here?” If you can step outside your own culture, you can get an angle on what’s going on inside it.”
  • “We always say, ‘Have faith in the process, even though you have to go through a period where you’re confused,’”
  • “We don’t really believe in advertising”
  • Bogusky uses a visual analogy to describe CP B’s methodology. At the center of his schema is the product destined to become famous, and around that are concentric circles that represent different means of marketing and advertising. The outermost circle–the one that takes the most effort to align with the essential brand message–represents traditional advertising. “We push the marketing toward the product,” Bogusky explains. “We spend all our time in the center: the product.”
  • “The process is finding the questions first and coming up with answers,” says Bogusky. “After you come up with the questions, that leads you to finding the core [strategies].”
  • “With MINI, it’s less about doing an ad and more about making it a part of the culture,” says Bogusky. “If we can come up with a lease that matches the personality of the car, that’s probably better than advertising.”
  • Not from Alex, but still interesting: “[CP B] helped us look at all these consumer touchpoints, [and] mass marketing is just one of them,” Martin says. “The agency doesn’t call their work advertising, they call it creative content. They don’t call it media, they call it creative-content distribution.”

From Creativity, Print, Business 2.0, and Adweek.

Thanks to Brian Chiao for gathering these. This isn’t really supposed to be an all about Crispin Porter + Bogusky site- but, if the idea is to stimulate a discussion between our potential clients and The Next Wave- they need to know what interests us.

We used to require all clients to read “Ogilvy on Advertising” to have a common ground to begin discussing their brand evolution through advertising- now, we hope they read our site.

Is “Product focused Brand culture” the secret of great marketing?

One of the things Chuck Porter shared at a Cincinnati Ad Club meeting is that anyone can do a better price and product ad- just by having a lower price. Seems so obvious- but try telling that to every local car dealer, grocery store or window salesman.

If you think competing on price is a solution- you don’t need better advertising- you need a lobotomy.

Advertising and merchandising as a entertainment? Nothing that hasn’t been talked about before. Tom Peters showcased Stew Leonard’s grocery store in “In search of Excellence” in the early 80’s- the problem was- most in advertising never bothered to read many business books.

So- is Bogusky and company formulating the next eveolution of advertising or not?

What do you think?

What students in advertising talk about

Welcome to Room 116: Crispin Copies itself

It’s long- it’s full of off topic comments- and it focuses on the darlings of the ad world “Crispin Porter + Bogusky.” It started with an observation that some of the VW outdoor- looked a lot like the mini campaign.
I placed a comment at the end- that probably deserves reposting here- so here you go:

Ripping off oneself isn’t illegal- it used to be called “having a style” and- if something is proven to work- and the client is in deep shit- do it.
Some of you seem to have missed bothering to read the CP+B site- they build advertising like Detroit builds cars- not for long lasting practical lives- but like throw aways, planned obsolecence. It keeps them in business- and it keeps audiences entertained. They don’t strive for “Just do it” or “Got milk” - they are like a comedian on tour- each show has to evolve- or the audience won’t laugh.
Ad people and CMO’s are the only people who know what agency did what- most consumers just want to know who did that catchy little ditty on the Rabbit- “multiply” spot. Most consumers aren’t stupid enough to go out and buy a VW because of it- they still know that the cars suck.
Which brings us to a major point about CB+P- they actually go outside the halls of advertising- into the brand world the product lives in- and work on the touchpoints- that’s more than advertising and pretty pictures- that’s real marketing- something lost on most advertising students- I still believe CB+P thinks about actually selling things- as opposed to creating pop-culture (which from reading this thread- seems waaaay more important than discussing how to sell crappy cars).
For all of Crispin’s strengths- they still make mistakes- esp. with how they use the web to connect with their customers- they still are using it as a broadcast medium instead of a 2-way exchange.
And on BK- no one mentioned “subservient chicken” or “Ugoff”- both of which were brand changing positioners.

What do you think?

A website can be a Customer Information System

As many of you know, we run a seminar on using a blog (specifically WordPress) as a content management system for a business website. The news section of The Next Wave site (where you are now) was added in January of 2005 and now accounts for most of the traffic on our site.
Although we got an early start on having a website (our first site went up in 1994) and we soon figured (back while everyone was still on dial-up) that Flash wasn’t the way to build an entire site (later we looked really smart- since search engines and Flash don’t go together very well)- we were pretty slow to realize how important webstats are to providing customer feedback and marketing opportunities.
The reason: when our content didn’t change often, neither did our web stats. That all changed with the news/blog- and analyzing web stats has become one of the most important parts of our seminar. As you add content- people find your site using different search terms- and link to you for different reasons- these are all opportunities to do business or learn about your customers.
It’s how we decided to begin the seminars- and it’s also taught us a lot about how to build websites for our customers- so they can get more customers. Just like there are keywords- or trigger words in print advertising (Free- being the “best” one), search terms can tell you a lot about your customers hot buttons. For us, guerrilla ad campaigns, viral marketing, and non-traditional advertising have been hot topics- as have low-budget ads. In a highly competitive media environment, it’s become obvious that just spending more on traditional media isn’t a cost effective solution. The flip-side is, many of these potential clients aren’t willing to pay for the services to get the “more bang for your marketing buck” to the agency for coming up with the “big idea.”
One of the places we find the big idea for a client- or at least get a start on the idea, is by searching through their well crafted website stats- where the search terms can show what’s on customers minds. Think of a website stats package as a way to eavesdrop on your virtual sales floor- as if you had a way to listen to every single customer that had an interest in your products.
When we land a retail client, we like to do site studies- where we observe customer interactions with our clients staff, the environment, the product, the sales process- and then make suggestions on improvements. We also visit the competition and do the same analysis. We want to discover what drives your most profitable customers to shop with you – and how to find more like them. We can do the same with visiting your sites backend- analyze, review, and build new strategies to connect and close the sale.
To repeat what we’ve said before- it’s imperative for a business to post all marketing materials online, in a place with a unique url link, and in a format that can be shared. Let the customer print your ad, own your TV spot, be able to listen to your radio spot over and over if they so choose. Even better- let them link back to your page, comment on the ad, be able to find out everything they can about it- because it most probably is what brought them to your site in the first place (isn’t that the reason you ran the ad in the first place).
One of our most popular posts was where we scanned and posted a BMW motorcycle ad, and placed the copy in a Google friendly format (remember, search engines can’t read flash- or the text in the contents of a jpg file) – another was where we compared an Apple TV campaign to a Burger King TV spot- which brought us mad traffic for information on the BK spot. For all the creativity Crispin Porter Bogusky showed in the BK spot and the strategy, they made it hard for people to find out where “I am man, hear me roar” came from.
So instead of driving people to Burger Kings site, where they could have been rewarded with a special offer, or discovered additional information about the product- like the exact ingredients in a Texas Double Whopper- they were on our site.
One of the outcomes of the BMW ad- is that when people search for “BMW motorcycles in Dayton” they end up on our site- and are disappointed that we were mentioning that our market has lost it’s closest dealer- partially because BMW hasn’t been successful at driving traffic to the shops- in our opinion, because of lackluster advertising and a poor web strategy.
We are now getting a lot of traffic on our site for people searching out answers to marketing questions- so we’re starting a new category: Practical marketing 101. We will be writing about ways to build successful marketing plans- utilizing well built websites as a basis for formulating sales plans that generate high traffic- especially for smaller businesses- independent businesses and our favorite type of client- the underdog.
We hope this helps you understand what The Next Wave means when we say we aren’t just an “ad agency”- but a source for marketing and innovation.
What do you think?

Why Google will inherit the online-earth.

Google Checkout Video Tour - Google Video

Google isn’t just the best search tool out there, it’s becoming the best of everything online. (It’s amazing what you can do with googles of cash). With a ton of money, and a different vision of the online world than Microsoft- Google is advancing into building relationships of convenience with their users- in other words, they keep trying to make your life easier- which is a GREAT marketing strategy.

We, at The Next Wave, like to say marketing is a simple concept- create lust, evoke trust. Google is working their way into the hearts of consumers everywhere by offering a complete selection of services- for free, that are useful, honest and open, that make your life online easier.

The big question will come when they face their first security failure- that is bound to happen. Will they do it more gracefully than PayPal, the VA, Ohio University or others- that have “lost” customer records.

Eventually, Google is going to be the king of digital content distribution (even though Apple has designed a better interface with the iTunes store and solved digital rights management issues) because they have the capital- the brains and the vision to do it right.

Google checkout is the first step to the complete customer relationship management solution- that will involve everything from Micro payments to credits for interacting with ads. Keep an eye on Google- they will inherit the earth- sooner than you think.

What do you think?