Audi spray-paints a ginormous ad in Germany for the all-new A7

By David Kiley on Mon Dec 6 2010

An ad in Berlin for the all-new 2012 Audi A7 Sportback looks fairly normal—except it was created with spray paint and takes up 10,800 square feet. Translated to English, the billboard reads, "Nothing is more inspiring than a blank sheet of paper. It is the opportunity to create something unique." The A7 Sportback is the German automaker's answer to the Porsche Panamera. Of course, that seemed like a good idea at Audi before its parent company, Volkswagen AG, actually decided to buy Porsche AG this year.

Fiat celebrates Aung San Suu Kyi's release in latest Nobel spot

By David Kiley on Fri Nov 19 2010

A year ago, Chrysler and Fiat chief marketing executive Olivier Francois drew fire in the U.S. for running an ad shot at the 10th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates. The ad, which showed Fiat's Lancia vehicles, also featured the Chrysler 300 sedan, as well as focusing the viewer on the plight of Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who was imprisoned in Burma. Francois wasn't drawing criticism in some published news reports and blogs for using the imprisonment of pro-democracy San Suu Kyi to sell cars, but for using an Italian ad agency to make the ad just months after taking a U.S. taxpayer bailout and firing longtime U.S. agency BBDO.
  Flash forward one year. Francois had Italian agency Armando Testa shoot another ad at the 11th annual summit in Hiroshima, Japan, earlier this month. The ad was meant to, again, spotlight the plight of San Suu Kyi. While in flight between Detroit and San Francisco, though, Francois got an e-mail from the Burmese foreign minister alerting him to the fact the San Suu Kyi would soon be released. The ad was then edited to turn it into a celebratory spot (above), with Francois dictating the edits from his flight.

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How Toby Barlow enticed Goodby to come to downtown Detroit

By David Kiley on Thu Oct 28 2010

Palm Building_Andrew When Goodby, Silverstein and Partners reports its profit-and-loss on its new Chevrolet business and it's a few bucks shy of expectations, Omnicom's financial department can blame Toby Barlow, chief creative officer on the Ford account for Team Detroit. Huh? After Goodby won the GM account last April, Jeff Goodby and his partners began looking for office space in downtown Detroit. GM's chief marketing officer Joel Ewanick told his two new agencies, Goodby and Minneapolis-based Fallon, that he wanted them in downtown Detroit, not out in the suburbs. Omnicom, meantime, is gagging on excess office space in Troy, Mich., well North of Detroit where BBDO's offices were that serviced Auburn Hills, Mich.-based Chysler until last Fall. "Joel wanted us in Detroit, but so did I," said Goodby. "Detroit is a real city, and we want to be part of it, not out in the 'burbs." Omnicom loved the idea of stocking the office with well over 100 Goodby employees despite the fact that it had already sold off furnishings. Toby Barlow, who lives in the MexicanTown section of Detroit and is a big booster of downtown Detroit, drove Goodby around town on a personal guided tour—restaurants, rib joints, pubs and the historic neighborhoods. Ultimately, he led Goodby to the Francis Palms building (pictured), a historic Beaux Arts structure on Woodward Ave., across the street from Comerica Park and Ford Field and few doors down from the Fox Theater. The Fillmore Theatre is in the bottom floor of the building. By virtue of the ballparks nd the theaters, it is the most vibrant part of Detroit, which is struggling with its economy and image. The other downtown option Goodby looked at was GM's headquarters building, The Renaissance Center. Fallon took that option, occupying space held by Publicis Groupe sister agency Digitas, which has lost most of its GM business to IPG's MRM.  "Toby was great. And I'm really happy with the choice," said Goodby. "When we had Saturn [between 2002-2007], I wasn't here a lot, but I'm going to spend a lot of time in Detroit, and downtown is the place to be." Goodby has already reached out to Detroit's College of Creative Studies, a leading design school, to teach some classes, and he has ideas about working with Barlow about improving the image of the city through advertising and marketing. "We want to be part of this community," says Goodby, who says the decision to take its own space created "some tense conversations" with his parent company. Blame it on Barlow.

These days, literally anyone in film or TV can launch a product

By David Kiley on Thu Oct 21 2010


Celebrity brands and products pop up all the time, from Lee Iacocca pasta sauce to Donald Trump's Vodka (he doesn't drink, and his brother died from alcohol-related health problems, but that didn't stop the Donald) to Celine Dion's and Beyoncé's perfumes. After all, what are personal brand names good for, beyond making money off them? But just how far down the food chain is too far when it comes to trying to capitalize on fame?
  This week, Mad Men costume designer (OK, she is an Emmy Award winner, but still) Janie Bryant is launching a line of "retro-chic" nail polish called Nailtini, available at Duane Reade and QVC, among other outlets. Bryant says the colors (Stinger and Bourbon Satin among them), as well as the brand name, are inspired by cocktail culture. A day earlier, we saw a pitch for a fragrance being launched by casting agent Susan McCray, "who discovered talented gems such as Shannen Doherty and Melissa Gilbert while casting for Michael Landon's shows, including Little House on the Prairie. Mrs. McCray's 'life after Hollywood' is just as fascinating as her time in Tinseltown, as she is fulfilling her lifelong dream of launching her own luxurious fragrance line, Nightfall." McCray has a Web site,, and a podcast in which she tries to capitalize on her Rolodex. Her latest guest is accordion legend Frank Marocco.
  What's next, a karaoke machine launched by the third associate director on American Idol? Island tours led by the gaffer from Lost?

Subaru commercial wins over one big fan: the U.S. government

By David Kiley on Thu Oct 14 2010

Usually the federal government comments about ads only when one of its regulating agencies has a problem. But transportation secretary Ray LaHood has singled out Subaru of America for praise.
  LaHood recently called Subaru of America COO Tom Doll to praise the Japanese automaker for its recent ad about distracted driving. "Their 30-second ad is all about a parent telling their young child, 'Don't use a cell phone, and don't text and drive,' " LaHood tells The Detroit News. He told Doll: "You're stepping up here with really persuading people, and you're going to win big accolades for doing that."
  The ad, shown here, titled "Baby Driver," was created by Minneapolis agency Carmichael Lynch, and features a father telling a young child not to text or make calls behind the wheel. It ends with the youngster, now a teen driver, behind the wheel. "Stay off the freeways—I don't want you going on those yet," the dad says. "Call me—but not while you're driving."
  The federal government is majority owner of General Motors. I'm thinking this has to make the GM peeps feel like the son whose dad gushes about the neighbor kid's baseball prowess. LaHood has been on a rampage about distracted driving, and is known to privately want to ban all telephony as well as texting from driving. That's not likely, though. The telecommunications industry has a lobby almost as powerful as the healthcare industry, and the companies, while not promoting texting and driving, don't want to see people have to give up at least hands-free calling behind the wheels.

What's in a name? Chevy ponders question (again) with the Aveo

By David Kiley on Mon Oct 11 2010


In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, the latter utters the infamous line: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet."
  That pretty much sums of the attitude of General Motors president Mark Reuss, who has yet another model-naming debacle on his hands. GM is trying, like Ford, to create a roster of global model names. The current problem on the table is Aveo, the little, cut-rate, slow-as-a-Rascal rental car Chevy now sells as its entry-level car (starting price: $11,965). An all-new and pretty respectable Aveo is due out next year. It looks and performs better than the current model in every way. It is called Aveo in other markets. But Reuss is contemplating a name change for the U.S.? Why? He says people aren't sure whether to pronounce it "a-VAY-o" or "A-vee-O" (rhymes with Fabio).
  At GM, naming meetings are the worst, according to insiders. The talk and the numerous PowerPoint presentations (you can't go to the bathroom at GM without a .ppt presentation) revolve around the cost of establishing a new name versus the baggage of the old name. Most meetings are guaranteed to have 50 percent on one side and 50 percent on the other. The most recent example of this was the Buick Regal. For most baby boomers, the dictionary meaning of Regal is "flaccid rental car. Also see: Uncle Morty's car from the '80s with the weird interior cloth that reminded us of Aunt Rose's couch … the one with the funny smell and color that had no name."

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Smirnoff jumps into reality television with a traveling DJ contest

By David Kiley on Thu Oct 7 2010


Reality TV is hitting the rocks. More precisely, Smirnoff is sponsoring a new show airing on African American entertainment channel Centric, and rebroadcast on BET, called Master of the Mix. The obvious product tie-in with vodka will pit DJ against DJ in cities throughout the world in the quest to crown "The Hottest DJ in the World."
  The show, produced by GTM and Ben Silverman's Electus studio, is hosted by Just Blaze and Kid Capri. The competition kicks off at the DJ's "base camp" for the show, a luxurious home in the Hollywood Hills, and quickly moves to Nevada, where the DJs spin at The People's Challenge, a massive vodka-tasting event for Smirnoff at the Tao nightclub in Las Vegas. From there, the show follows the DJs from city to city—and party to party—including Miami, Los Angeles, New York and London, where contestants will put their skills to the test in a series of challenges.

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Subaru Legacy is a much better choice than the 2011 Mediocrity

By David Kiley on Wed Oct 6 2010

Subaru is on a bit of a roll. The Outback won Motor Trend's Sport Utility of the Year last year, among other kudos. And the automaker's chief marketing executive, Tim Mahoney, was honored in Brandweek's recent Marketer of the Year issue. It's from this zone of good fortune and hyperconfidence that the automaker seems to have launched this cheeky video promoting he 2011 Mediocrity, a four-door sedan that has "figured out a way to blend in more." The effort is meant to call attention to the redesign of the Legacy mid-size sedan, which Subaru feels is far from anonymous looking and the antidote to the sedan. Note: Subaru drafted a Kia Optima to play the role of the Mediocrity. Where are the Kia hamsters when you need them to gnaw a hole in Mahoney's pants leg?
  The video, by Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis, includes spy shots, promotional videos and interviews with designers to try to capture the essence of the world's most boring car. I had thought that was the four-door Nissan Versa sedan, or one of the cardboard sedans turned out by Chinese automakers. But the Optima proves to be a worthy choice as well. The earnestness and deadpan delivery of the actors is hilarious. "Instead of breaking the mold, we went down and found the pieces of the mold and put them back together," says one. The car has an "M" logo on the front grille, and there is a Citizen Kane "Rosebud" whisper at the end that punctuates the fun ... "Mediocrity."

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