Several car brands have new ad chiefs or ad agencies this year. Despite those changes, don't look for wild shifts in creative direction.
I don't expect Mercedes-Benz to make many adjustments. Three key agency creative executives who worked on the account at former agency Lowe & Partners/SMS jumped ship to the new agency, Merkley Newman Harty in New York.
Subaru veteran Bill Cyphers said the new TV spots breaking today, Aug. 16, were developed before he took the marketing helm this summer. The brand is sticking with actor Paul Hogan, who has pitched Subaru since fall 1995.
That's a good idea. Why should a niche marketer like Subaru try a new ad theme after spending several hundred million dollars since 1995 linking Hogan to their brand? The TV is cluttered with car spots all vying for eyeballs, consideration and recognition.
Cyphers' predecessor, Tim Mahoney, is heading Porsche marketing now. Mahoney is working with a new ad agency, Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis. Mahoney is too smart to let the new agency alter the brand's solid image, but don't be surprised to see more humor injected into new commercials.
I do expect a change in ad direction at Acura, which just moved its account to Rubin Postaer & Associates from Suissa Miller, both in Santa Monica, Calif. But Acura first needs to decide its brand positioning.
Mercury's new marketing manager is Deborah Wahl, who was at Mazda. Before she arrived, word was out the brand would drop the 'Imagine TV' ad theme that arrived for 1998 models, spoofing TV channel surfing. Mercury is also abandoning the 'Imagine yourself in a Mercury' tag line, which came in fall 1995.
This abandonment is a mystery to me, coming when Mercury seems, after decades, finally to have found its own position appealing to prospects' individuality.
Robert Rewey, group vice president of marketing, sales and service, admitted to me last year he didn't like the Mercury commercials. Maybe he finally pulled the plug on them.
Jean Halliday welcomes comments. Call her at (313) 446-0374 or send e-mail to [email protected]