Magazine article Marketing

Image-Conscious Car Makers Take Eyes off the Road

Magazine article Marketing

Image-Conscious Car Makers Take Eyes off the Road

Article excerpt

As a US senator once said of a more than usually insane financial initiative by the administration: "A billion here, a billion there - pretty soon we're talking real money." This is indicative of a truth which is almost universal - that any group of people given too much money and not enough responsibility simply cannot resist the temptation to squander it on wild follies.

The examples are all around us: the European Agricultural Policy; most big banks and local councils; and any agency in the glorious position of being entrusted with a large advertising budget and a client whose management knows even less than they do about advertising.

This occurred to me recently when reading in Advertising Age about the US car industry, where the sums involved are phenomenal, yet hardly anyone is ever found out. General Motors has had the same smooth-looking twit approving mostly bad ads for years and years. No matter how creative the campaign, it can't possibly be as imaginative as the excuses, which tend to revolve around short but high-priced words such as 'awareness' and 'image'.

One famous example was the launch of the Nissan Infiniti, which consisted of a few million dollars' worth of ads with no car in them, but lots of moody shots of Japanese gardens and such. Maybe it sold some rocks and sand, but the great-looking car didn't take off nearly as well as the Lexus - whose agency, lacking all imagination, showed pictures of cars.

Those who ignore the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them. …

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