Monthly Archives: July 2007

sema show in hi-def — wow!

hanging out at the GM pavillion

For a real behind the scenes look at SEMA’s behemoth, watch for Discovery Channel’s hi-def production hosted by builder legend in his own time Chip Foose. This is one smart docu-pitch, filmed after hours and without the usual mind-numbing acid guitar for no apparent reason loops.

I discovered what I missed — a lot — by skipping the tires and wheels pavillion at the show. Foose, one of the most talented car crafters of this era, acknowledges his peers while discretely letting you know why he’s the talent at the top of the hill. (Foose and powersports bike builder Denny Berg are both Transportation Design graduates of the acclaimed Pasadena Art College — proof that while there’s natural talent, developed natural talent puts these practitioners on a level of their own.)

In rotation for awhile, go to Discovery Channel’s web site then select Discovery HD and search for SEMA: After Hours for next cablecast.

clips and snips

Deadenbacher Icon Hits Dead End

Collected random access tidbits…Detroit agencies are having to suck it up after the Big 3 bail on traditional agency hookups worth over $880-mil…Harley’s going after the Latino market with a new comic book based campaign that acknowledges the sagging boomer demos…Miami agency Crispin Porter Bogusky loses popcorn action after resurrecting Orville Redenbacher icon as digitized spokesman for the brand, leading cynics to pan ads “Deadenbacher” while reminding me of the last gasp campaign for Schlitz — The Beer That Made Milwaukee Famous — and instantly dubbed “Drink Schlitz Or I’ll Kill You”, before the taps were permanently closed in the ’90s…Dodge’s quick-step out of court sealed settlement for an undisclosed amount doesn’t bode well for chop fabber Billy Lane’s upcoming criminal trial in September on DUI-manslaughter charges…BMW picks up Husqvarna in a synergistic marketing extension — former Swedish brand expected to bolster entry level, Gen-X rider interest…

made in china fallout continues

china label

No sooner had we wondered out loud about the problematic issue posed by the brand extension “made in china” than a report by Bloomberg News pointed towards a call for mandatory Federal regulation and oversight of the domestic atv market by an industry that’d fiercely opposed any such meddling in prior years. What changed?

Internet sales. Home delivery. And a tripling in unit sales to around 400,000 in 2006 for a Chinese product which costs roughly a third of their better branded counterparts. Who, by the way, saw same period sales slip by about 30,000 machines to 750,000 atvs. Some might see a trend at work.
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harley steps up, swings deep

In what looks like a particularly insightful move, TMC announced the hiring of their first Chief Marketing Officer with the appointment of 40-year-old Marc-Hans Richer to lead the manufacturer’s quest for a younger market.

Say adios to the iconic beret as the beacon in the marketing lighthouse. According to AdAge Daily News, the former head of Pontiac’s brand effort has his sights set on Milwaukee after several spectacular innovations with the GM brand he’s piloted since 2004. Like what? The most outrageous stunt was the giveaway of 276 G6 models on Oprah.

He’s been instrumental in linking the mature brand to a younger audience with pioneering web efforts, including the Second Life virtual marketing model. Among his challenges at HD: getting by with a $30 million budget instead of the nearly $150 million he directed at Pontiac, despite the legendary rep of Harley’s marketing reach. Other unknowns: a departure on the heels of a continuing Detroit automotive mega slump, including his much heralded Pontiac division, which was down 14% in the first half of ’07.

With this announcement, Harley acknowledges the obvious: concern for the future. Will fresh thinking and a contemporary approach move the meter? Watch Wall Street — and maybe TiVo Oprah — to find out.

the new china syndrome

Last week’s news about yet another defective Chinese export — this time, automobile tires sold by New Jersey importer Foreign Tire Sales — begins to point to a potentially serious trouble spot for the powersports market.

The tires in question suffer from tread separation as a result of a glue strip left out in the manufacturing process. The product joins a list of recent stories that include poison toothpaste and toy train sets, adulterated seafood and deadly pet food.

What’s this got to do with powersports? Several years ago, in a very limited product category, one distributor went to it’s Chinese vendor for a wide tire tranny extension. Cost effective: sure. At least partly because the critical heat treat portion of the process was left out, resulting in a very expensive stripping of the splines from the main shaft after about 50 feet on the highway.

It’s safe to say this aftermarket industry would be on life support without the economic advantage provided by Chinese manufacturing. It’s also self-evident that the continuing pr disasters of Chinese exports as a whole could very easily taint the powersports product segment.

Obviously, what’s needed here is a quick application of Good Housekeeping’s Seal of Approval. It may not be out of the question for our industry to perform a sourcing check to assure consumers our products are safe — ahead of the curve.

ad spending up, traditional channels suffer

According to last week’s report on the Top 100 Advertiser’s annual ad spending outlays, budgeting in the measured (print, broadcast) categories continued to shrink. Overall spending was up a modest 3.1% to a record $104.8 billion, but the growth areas continue to be in non-measured digital and internet alternatives. In what AdAge authors called a troubling sign, traditional media grew only 0.6%.

Parsing the planet’s number one advertiser’s allocations, Proctor and Gamble’s spending (estimated at $4.9 billion in 2006) was up 15% in non-measured media versus 3.9% in traditional channels, adding even more legitimacy to a mixed media advertising and promotion strategy.

Given Detroit’s significant problems, no surprise learning that automotive spending was down. In the powersports community, consumer print continues to be the media of choice even though a lack of audited titles means results are difficult to quantify. Adding to the confusion is the virtual explosion of new titles with no track records to support their claimed audiences.

Conclusion? Coming up with a comprehensive media plan that actually hits the existing market and targets emerging ones becomes more and more problematic. Better sharpen up that spreadsheet.