Archive for the ‘Automobiles’ Category

PirelliFilm.com (“Mission Zero”)

Monday, 12 February 2007; 8:42

The Distillery is beginning to wonder if Pirelli is as much in the film business as the tire business. First we had the short film, The Call, with John Malkovich and Naomi Campbell. This time it is Mission Zero starring Uma Thurman and directed by Kathryn Bigelow. And, there is that beautiful, bright yellow Lamborghini Ms. Thurman is driving. Nice lineup, eh? This is quite the short film. Yes, it is a bit hokey in places, but it gets the [advertising] message across most ably.

The Distillery was among only 1000 viewers initially selected to preview the film before its general release, but today it is available for the entire world. Folks, this is real online marketing. The films from Pirelli are made specifically for the internet and work superbly as online selling tools. This is beyond mere “rich content.” Who can watch this film and walk away not remembering the Pirelli name? And, who can walk away and not remember Uma Thurman?! (Personally, I’ll take the Lamborghini.)

Home page:  Mission Zero
Home page:  PirelliFilm.com

Suzuki XL7

Monday, 5 February 2007; 9:34

It is not quite a car; it is not quite a SUV. It is the new Suzuki XL7, a hybrid automobile. (Couldn’t Suzuki find a voice-over that actually inspired one to listen?) In fact, it appears that Suzuki has looked to replace Subaru as the car for younger, active drivers.

However, this is also an automobile clearly designed to cross target markets ranging from the above-mentioned younger drivers to families that do not wish a full-sized SUV. The assessment that the XL7 is targeting younger drivers is reflected in Suzuki’s online game, Halfpipe Jams. (Don’t worry about taking the survey and registering for a code. Just use the code “HPJ” to gain entry.)

Home page:  Suzuki XL7
Video tour:  2007 XL7
Game:  Halfpipe Jams

Dodge Nitro

Tuesday, 30 January 2007; 14:28

The Dodge Nitro may well be a very nice mid-sized SUV, but its online advertising is far from being as slick as glycerin. It doesn’t even come close to the excellence we saw with Audi. If the Audi Q7 site rates a nine or ten, then the most that can be awarded the Nitro site is a three.

What is the problem? Have American automobile manufacturers not only forgotten how to build cars, but also how to sell them? To The Distillery it certainly seems so. There is little wonder that American car builders now find themselves being displaced from the top by foreign-based car companies.

Dodge’s online multimedia advertising for the Nitro is sometimes irritating, invariably too loud, and frequently inconsistent. Also, far too much of it is the sort of advertising which is better suited for the television and not the internet. Dodge, in case you have somehow missed it, you are now using the internet to reach your target markets. Consumers are using it to make their purchase decisions. It is about time you fully recognized that and have your online content reflect a new awareness.

When will firms like Dodge understand that people will use the internet for information they cannot easily obtain elsewhere–or would like to obtain with a minimum of hassle and trouble? When will those firms recognize that at the stage of looking for online information, the consumer is in a state of high-involvement with the target product? 

Consumers not only want to be shown static pictures and occasionally be entertained with sound, but instead are looking for an online experience. In addition, they want cold hard facts. The Distillery’s advice to Dodge: Flatter Audi and imitate its superb efforts.

Home page:  Dodge Nitro


Audi Q7 Globe

Thursday, 25 January 2007; 10:16

Overall, the entire Audi web site is excellent. However, The Distillery will today focus only on Audi’s Q7 Globe automobile. It comes with a V-12 engine and plenty of ground clearance. Supposedly, this is a car for anywhere on the planet. (Does anyone remember when Audi made decidedly boring cars?)

If the automobile is even half as impressive as the Audi Q7 Globe micro-site, it is quite the car. Its web site does almost everything extremely well. It is engaging, interactive, has a virtual human host, different bandwidths, sound on/off, and even offers a downloadable freebie via a video clip of the site’s theme song by Carla Vallet.

Yes, the people at Audi and its advertising agency worked very hard at making this one of the best examples of online advertising for a specific product that The Distillery has seen to date. Explore around and enjoy. Kudos galore to Audi and its Q7 Globe. (Oh, and while you are there, also have a look at the Audi Videocast. It includes footage from motor shows and vehicles other than the Q7.)

Home page:  Audi
Home page (micro-site):  Audi Q7 Globe

       

Chevrolet Volt (electric car)

Monday, 8 January 2007; 9:14

Some firms just aren’t getting it. One car receiving a great deal of attention at the current Detroit motor show is the Chevrolet Volt, an all-electric concept vehicle that looks really cool. Given the automobile and the sensation it has created, one would think Chevrolet might also make certain to provide the car a decent web site. Wrong!

Instead, we get a web site for the car that is as silent as a church mouse during vespers. Get a clue, Chevrolet! You have also made another mistake The Distillery too often sees with Flash-powered sites–no images which can be easily linked and displayed. Now wouldn’t it be nice if readers not only heard about your head-turning concept car, but could also find a picture of it here?

Home page:  Chevrolet Volt

Image not readily provided by manufacturer! Duh!!!

Nissan X-Trail (Taiwan)

Monday, 18 December 2006; 12:23

With a name like the Nissan X-Trail, the last thing The Distillery expected was a very modern urban landscape being used as a visual background. However, given the vast majority of Taiwanese who can likely afford the X-Trail probably live in the cities instead of Taiwan’s eastern rugged mountains, the high-rise skyscraper backdrop makes sense.

In addition, those same Taiwanese urbanites are not likely to take the X-Trail anywhere near real Land Rovers or true all-terrain vehicles might go. That is why the terrain-handling demonstration contained within this ad is all the more unusual. It is held in a city park with steel obstacles and tracks! (The demonstration is not easy to find. At the top of the micro-site index page, click on the very last link at the top right of the menu. Then click on the smaller photos at the bottom of that page for the driving demonstration.) If that contrived demonstration does not sell X-Trails to wealthier Taiwanese looking to get over speed bumps, nothing will.

Home page:  Nissan X-Trail

Nissan X-Trail - Taiwain

Aston Martin

Tuesday, 12 December 2006; 10:06

It is everything British. It was the first car uniquely “modified” by Q for James Bond. It is the Aston Martin.

And very likely, at least to most Americans, the Aston Martin is synonymous with 007 agent, James Bond. However, is it a car Americans might prefer in and of itself? Maybe, but The Distillery doubts it will be the Aston Martin web site that convinces them of that. It is not a badly designed site, but it simply doesn’t convey (although there is great attempt) the mystique of the Aston Martin brand. That might have something to do with Aston Martin now being owned by Ford.

The site is thoroughly modern (by British standards), but suffers from a certain lack of originality and cachet. Yes, we find the now expected driving videos. However, and with all due respect, the music in at least one of them nothing more than glorified Muzak. It almost gets in the way more than it holds one’s attention. And in another video, one is left with a decidedly negative impression of Aston Martin that not even the video’s ending can eliminate. (Well, that was The Distillery’s reaction.)

In that one video, at the very same time the word “evil” is spoken, a less-than-friendly looking driver seemingly captures and crushes a butterfly with his bare hand. Granted, a few seconds later he stops the car and releases it, and there is a disclaimer that no butterflies were harmed during the making of the commercial, but by that time I suspect more than one viewer experienced the same visceral reaction as I. “Why is he killing the butterfly?!” (I don’t think Aston Martin expected that particular reaction. Maybe the firm will use a focus group next time.)

And once again, we find a classic online media/advertising mistake–a microsite, this time for the Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster, but with absolutely no audio. Having no audio commands the viewer’s attention for maybe a few seconds, but not much more. Conversely, we have seen that just the correct few notes and bars can transform a quick click by the viewer into a few minutes of wonder. Then again, maybe Aston Martin thinks this downloadable sound of the DB8 engine suffices. It does not. It seems the firm does not recognize that sight and sound together work far better than either alone.

In sum, it is unfortunate Aston Martin cannot instill in its web site that same sense of wonder we have when watching a Aston Martin driven by James Bond–machine guns, water cannons, ejection seats, or not as standard equipment.

Home page:  Aston Martin

Aston Martin DB 5
Aston Martin DB 5

Speed TV & NASCAR

Friday, 25 August 2006; 15:22

Do you live and breathe NASCAR? Do you like the internet? If the answer to both of those questions is “Yes,” then head on over to Speed.tv for your daily NASCAR fix. Not only will you find NASCAR videos, but also other racing videos, including motorcycle and F1 Grand Prix.

The site is superb for automotive racing fans. It is well-designed and includes message boards, chats, and fantasy racing. You will also find competitive online drag racing in the game, PINKS. In sum, Speed TV is the place to get all of your NASCAR news, commentary and video.

Home page: Speed TV (SpeedTV.com)
Video player: Speed TV

Mark Martin photo graphic

Drive SRT (Dodge)

Monday, 21 August 2006; 18:47

Moonshine. It’s a tradition even in my family. Or at least it was until my Uncle Chester died, the family’s supplier. (And, the world’s greatest deer hunter.) But why is The Distillery bringing up stump hole liquor? Because in some respects, it’s the daddy of most Dodge SRT high-performance vehicles, including the Dodge Viper SRT10 Roadster. Remember, it was here in North Carolina that high-performance stock cars and moonshine went hand-in-hand.

Also found is the Viper V10-powered SRT RAM Regular Cab pickup truck. A top speed of over 154 mph in a production pickup truck and 0-60 mph in only a few tenths over five seconds?! One can get around the ranch pretty quickly in that — if it actually ever sees a ranch. The Distillery is guessing these will be bought not for work, but for play. Owners may well assume that the gods and goddesses forbid any dirt ever getting on that “work truck.”

But don’t stop there, the entire Drive SRT site is filled with videos, including one of the 21st century version of the classic Dodge Charger, the SRT8. (Note: It’s not any faster than the pickup truck!) However, any car which can stop in only 110 feet from a speed of 60 mph is much more than just a road rocket. It’s a car that can get you out of trouble just as quickly as it can get you into trouble. You could even get lucky and win one.

But what’s up with the music at Dodge Drive SRT? Given the MSRPs of these vehicles, The Distillery is assuming the site’s lame rap music targets pimps and drug dealers. On the other hand, elsewhere at the site a completely different style of music is found. Is Dodge confused about its target audience(s)? Or, is it making the classic mistake of using the shotgun approach in attempting to target all possible buyers?

Even my Uncle Chester knew better than that, and I’m certain he didn’t even finish high school. When a large covey of quail was flushed, he didn’t just randomly shoot into the covey hoping to hit one. He took deliberate and deadly aim at every single one we would have for dinner that evening. Maybe Dodge should come on down to North Carolina for some marketing and moonshine lessons.

Home page: Dodge Drive SRT
Home page: Dodge

Dodge Special Edition VOI.9 Viper SRT10 Coupe graphic

Citroen (C6)

Friday, 4 August 2006; 10:22

As previously noted, The Distillery is far from impressed with the styling of Citroen automobiles — with the exception of the Citroen C6. Although it is French, I might be willing to be caught as something other than dead in it.

(It’s obvious, isn’t it? I don’t really like the French. Sosumi. However, I have excellent reasons for feeling as I do. And as I heard the other day, when a network was asking people on the street if today’s conflicts qualify as WW III, they cannot be called a war until the French have surrendered.)

Home page: Citroen

Citroen C6 graphic

Citroen (Jumper)

Friday, 4 August 2006; 10:10

Every other video link at the Citroen site led to a dead end (i.e., no video), with the exception of this lone one for the Citroen Jumper. (Click on Le Film at the bottom of of the listings to the left of the vehicle.) And another observation, Citroen makes really ugly cars — with one exception.

Hold the presses! Additional multimedia found! (Upcoming in the next blog entry.)

Home page: Citroen

Citroen logo graphic

Earnhardts Tribute (Budweiser)

Wednesday, 2 August 2006; 10:44

Legal Advisement: The following commercial content is to be viewed only by individuals 21 years of age or older.

From dirt to pavement, B&W to high-def, mullets to… mullets, tradition rolls on. ~Budweiser

Budweiser is a tradition.* And although the demographics reading this are far from those indicative of typical Budweiser-drinking NASCAR fans, there is little doubt that the latter are also becoming American traditions. (Did I somewhere hear rumors about exporting NASCAR to Europe? Blasphemy, I say!) Also now a tradition is an Earnhardt not infrequently winning a NASCAR race. Dale, Jr. has stepped in after his father’s death, and Dale, Sr. picked up where his father, Ralph, left off. NASCAR is clearly a family tradition for the Earnhardts.

Thus the superb fit of Budweiser tradition with that of NASCAR tradition and three generations of Earnhardts. Enjoy this short video clip of the Earnhardts throughout NASCAR history graciously produced and provided by Budweiser.

Home page: Budweiser

* What is the best beer on the market? Please leave your opinions in the comments. Tomorrow I’ll tell you which beer has consistently finished in either first or second place several times during my own double-blind taste-testings. The answer is almost certain to surprise you. (This one is for you, M.M.)

Old Budweiser bottle graphic Know When To Say When graphic