Ever heard of a Super Bowl with a heart-stopping beginning? Chevy's pregame ad for the Colorado midsize pickup, simulating a seven-second TV blackout (above), didn't just jolt viewers out of their nachos. It pitched a feature that's now a hallmark of the brand: built-in high-speed wireless Internet. The response was huge.
The year's most memorable marketing moments
Super Bowls won't be the same without Saad Chehab, the creative force behind Maserati's first big-game spot and, along with Olivier Francois, the standard-setter for impactful automotive advertising on Super Sunday. Chehab, whose credits include the "Born of Fire" blockbuster for Chrysler and a follow-up starring Clint Eastwood, left Maserati in October for personal reasons.
Jaguar found a way to make a product launch stand out at the massive Frankfurt auto show by constructing a 62-foot-tall vertical-loop track nearby and sending British stunt driver Terry Grant to take a 360-degree round in the new F-Pace crossover. The stunt set a Guinness world record for largest loop-the-loop. Most importantly, it worked. Whew!
VW scrambled to pull all of its TDI ads after the emissions-test scandal erupted Sept. 18, including many that sought to dispel "myths" about clean diesel. In November, it took out full-page ads in major newspapers touting a goodwill package for consumers and pledging to "make things right." With the investigation continuing and a fix still undefined, VW's brand name is still mud.
The Korean brand isn't just an attention-hungry Super Bowl advertiser anymore. It displaced General Motors as the official automaker partner of the National Football League, just in time for the 50th anniversary of the big game. And Hyundai Motor America hired former dealer and Subaru marketing chief Dean Evans as CMO to hone its message for the big stage.
Kia, an official sponsor of the NBA, won a coveted spot for its logo on player jerseys for this season's All-Star Game in Toronto. The patch will appear on the player's chest, along with the embroidered logo of the jersey manufacturer, Adidas.
To the Olympic motto of "faster, higher, stronger," add "ever better." Toyota became the first automaker to join the elite ring of Top Olympic Partners, putting it on a sponsorship tier with some of the world's biggest marketers. The sponsorship kicks off next year and will last through the next four games, including the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, which automakers see as a global technology showcase. But amid concerns about rising costs, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda quit the Tokyo organizing committee last week to focus on drumming up more corporate support.
Jeep, riding a hot streak in the U.S., reaffirmed its global ambitions by becoming the first Detroit brand since 2007 to exhibit at the Tokyo Motor Show, which has been overshadowed in recent years by bigger shows in China.
How low can you go?
Matching Honda's long-held policy, Toyota barred dealers from advertising vehicles at below-invoice prices. Repeat offenders would forfeit certain factory marketing incentives. The policy takes effect in 2016.
Chevy stumbled on a winning ad theme last fall, using focus group conversations to make the case for its new midsize pickups. This year, Chevy took the campaign brandwide, and used it to score marketing points against Ford's aluminum-bodied F-150, the "15-year-old" technology in the Toyota Prius and the limited-range Nissan Leaf EV.
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