Friday, June 06, 2008

Auto Ads

In case you haven't noticed:

Auto Advertisers Are Touting MPG Angle

The pain at the pump has auto advertisers retooling their messages. Fuel economy is the new refrain. Hard-charging V-8s and big, bold SUVs are out of fashion.

"The mpg message is resonating more with consumers," Mark Felice, general marketing manager for Ford division, said last week at the Automotive News Marketing Seminar.

At Hyundai, executives are enthusiastic about this summer's launch of the Genesis, the brand's first rear-drive sedan powered by a V-8. But Hyundai's marketers are toning down talk about the car's performance.

"We've made a slight adjustment with Genesis ads to focus on fuel economy," says Joel Ewanick, vice president of marketing at Hyundai Motor America. "It was a secondary matter at first, but now we've created a separate ad for that. We have a story to tell."

General Motors has shifted 15 to 20 percent of its spending out of light trucks and into cars and crossovers, said Mark LaNeve, GM's North American marketing chief.

"People now know what they're spending on gas and adding it to their monthly budgets," LaNeve said, "so we have to address that. For example, we can tell them that the Chevy HHR can do a lot of what bigger sport-utilities do in terms of space, but you can get it for under $20,000 and with good mpg."

Other marketers are talking the same game. Said Ford's Felice: "Our primary brand campaign involves Focus, Fusion, Edge, Escape and Escape Hybrid. We're not calling out fuel economy, but those vehicles have it."

Chrysler LLC has built a campaign around its incentive offer: Buy a new Chrysler, Jeep or Dodge vehicle and get a guaranteed gasoline price of $2.99 a gallon for three years. Deborah Meyer, Chrysler's chief marketing officer, says the $2.99 promotion will run through July 7 and could be extended.

Despite the myriad messages about fuel economy, trucks and powerful V-8s are not being ignored.

"Still one of our highest Web site responses is for the (Dodge) Challenger," Meyer says of the new muscle car. "There still is a lot of desire for dreams, and we need to talk to these people."

Randy Pflughaupt, vice president of marketing at Toyota Division, says the brand is constantly reminding consumers that Toyota is in the pickup business.

Said Pflughaupt: "There are less pickup buyers today, but messages are still relevant for people in the market who need those vehicles."

(Source: Automotive News, 06/02/08)

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