J.D. Power’s Roundtable Auto Exec Speakers Define New Marketing Strategies

Taking risks in marketing automotive products and basing strategies on rich data to broadcast content across many platforms were just two themes highlighted during speeches, panel discussions and presentations by automotive, marketing and digital experts at this week’s J.D. Power Automotive Marketing Roundtable (AMR) held at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, Nev.

The Oct. 15-17 conference and networking event was attended by nearly 1,500 auto industry members, including OEM, dealership, search engine, and third-party website leaders. Some 40 corporations, led by Dealer.com and BrightRoll, along with companies such as eBay Motors, Cars.com, Nielsen, Pandora and LinkedIn, helped sponsor the annual comprehensive and future-driven conference.

In an opening discussion on Tuesday with J.D. Power President Finbarr O’Neill, Joel Ewanick, former global marketing chief of General Motors, explained some of his efforts to consolidate global marketing dollars at the largest U.S. automaker. He described the strategy to streamline marketing by cutting some of the 50 creative and 75 media agencies. In addition, he illustrated how the Chevrolet partnership with the Manchester United soccer team has turned into a positive deal, although it was controversial at the time. Brand awareness around the world could be worth much more than the sponsorship costs, according to the marketing executive.

Ewanick, who is now a managing partner in Global Automotive Systems, Inc., also pointed out that GM is on the right track with its efforts to focus on making Chevrolet and Cadillac truly global brands. However, he said that GM is “an amazing organization and a labyrinth of departments,” but since the company has become profitable, some of the initial urgency for GM to change has been lost.

On Wednesday morning, American Honda’s Mike Accavitti, senior vice president of automotive operations, told participants at the AMR that his company needs to take advantage of new ideas and use new approaches in its marketing strategies. Nearly one-third of Honda’s marketing budget is devoted to newer initiatives. The remainder of the budget focuses on launches, TV and digital advertising. Ad accounts and media buying have been moved to new agencies and a social media department has been created to develop new content for sharing online with consumers.

One of the new successful campaigns that is sponsored by Acura is a comedy Web series with Jerry Seinfeld called “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” Accavitti said viewership increased some 40% in the second season. A new campaign for the Honda Civic features actor/comedian and rapper Nick Cannon talking to young consumers about self-empowerment as he drives a Civic. Honda also is using Twitter as a vehicle to promote Cannon and he has some 4.6 million followers, Accavitti acknowledged.

 

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