TEST A BMW IN 21 LOCATIONS - Beginning June 23, BMW will offer its CyberDrive, a program developed by Apple Computer Inc. It is 21 interactive sites on the World Wide Web that enable consumers to test-drive BMW cars at 21 locations - including Paris, the Napa Valley and the Trans-Siberian Railroad. Cyber drivers can log on at www.bmwusa.com and receive a password for each day's trip.
THUMBS DOWN ON DIRECT MAIL - An executive at Tel-Prom of Eustis, Fla., formerly a direct-mail marketing firm that served dealerships, gave a candid reason why the company switched to telemarketing in January. 'The public has grown tired of hokey, misleading mailers and is either throwing them in the trash or simply showing up at the dealership to collect the promotional gift,' said General Manager Joe Gufford. He added that even if asked by a dealer, Tel-Prom will not do direct-mail marketing in the future.
IT'S ON THE HOUSE FROM HONDA -Honda, in an unusual marketing touch, will install center tray tables free of charge in 1,100 CR-V sport-utilities. The tray table, now standard, was not available when the vehicle went on sale in late January. Dick Colliver, Honda Division general manager, said the installations will cost American Honda about $1 million.
SPEEDVISION GROWS TO 9.5 MILLION - Speedvision, a cable TV network in Stamford, Conn., started in January 1996 with 1 million subscribers for its 24-hour, seven-day-a-week automotive, aviation and marine information network. President Roger Werner said the total has grown to 9.5 million. He expects to have 13.5 million subscribers by the end of this year.
HELP 'EM DRIVE A LEXUS - To keep dealership staffers, Lexus has decided to help them drive Lexus autos. Salespeople, mechanics and even receptionists are among those eligible for the Lexus Subsidized Lease program, which gives employees $400 a month for 12 months. The catch? The employees must become Master Certified in their job classifications and renew that certification annually to keep the subsidy.
BRANDS RATED - Interbrand Group, a branding consultant firm headquartered in New York, has published a book entitled The World's Greatest Brands, which rates more than 350 global brands. The top automotive brands, based on the Interbrand survey, are: Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Toyota, Ford and Porsche.