Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Ask Dr. Z

I think DaimlerChrysler's new Ask Dr. Z ad campaign is probably the worst commercial idea running today. Have you seen the commercials? (If not, you can view them by using the link above). The ads are terrible. In my humble opinion, the marketing message is way out of touch with the American car consumer. Granted, I am no expert, but a lot of Americans want to own an "American made" car or a car that at least makes them feel like they are buying American (e.g. Toyota). The Chrysler emphasizes the fact that the car is designed and engineered by Germans . Personally, I think this is the wrong tone to take with our consumers.

Rather, I think Toyota (which will eventually be the most sold car in the U.S.) is going in the other direction with its marketing. The new Toyota ads do everything they can to highlight that the cars are made in America by hard working Americans. It certainly de-emphasizes the fact that Toyota is a Japanese run company.

I am sure there is more to it then a series of television commercials, but Chrysler's numbers continue to decline while Toyota is climbing high. Coincidence?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact that Toyota sales are up probably has more to do with the ecomony cars they offer than the spin they have chosen for their advertising campaign. At a time when consumers are faced with skyrocketing prices at the pump, it makes sense that they would be drawn to a vendor selling middle of the road vehicles that happen to be good on gas. There are also those environmentally conscience consumers who want to save at the pump and make a statement to all of the SUV drivers that they are not only thinking about their pocket book, but are also limiting their impact on the environment. These folks would be your hybrid drivers...they can be found driving cars such as the prius and camry hybrid. These consumers are drawn to the savings at the pump but fail to recongize how much more money they are shelling out upfront to sport one of those little cars (there goes the savings), not to mention the need for a very expensive new battery in 5-7 years and the fact that the old battery will need to be disposed of...hmm, so much for the environment. Toyota offers reasonably priced cars but there is a question regarding quality. Chrysler on the other hand, offers a higher class selection that does come with a higher price, yet still reasonable for what the consumer is getting. The lineup they offer is not necessarily focused on fuel economy as much as a luxury ride for a reasonable price. Admittabley, not a great sell when gas is over 3.00 a gallon and climbing. In May of 1998, Germany based Daimler-Benz and American based Chrysler Corp. announced their merger. This made them the 5th largest auto maker in the world. This merge did not take the American out of the product. The Daimler/Chrysler product is made under American quality standards, as the Chrysler product was prior to the '98 merge. The American involement and influence on the product is stronger than ever and anyone driving a Chrysler vehicle can be proud to be driving an Amercian product, both manufactured in the U.S. and designed by Americans. Chrysler is an American company that happens to be in partnership with a strong German based company. Toyota, started by Sakichi Toyoda in 1867, is a Japanese company. It was born in Japan and anyone purchasing a Toyota is driving a foreign car and is supporting the foreign car market and Japan's economy. Does Toyota use American labor to manufacture some of their vehicles, yes. That is viewed as a positive in that those American Toyota employees are making money that is likely spent in the U.S. and thus contributing to the U.S. economy. Chrysler employees manufacture cars in the U.S. too. They don't need to harp on this fact in ads because any smart American should know this and should be looking at the bigger picture...Chrysler is a U.S. company and Toyota is NOT. For Toyota, Americans are doing some of the work but are doing so under foreign guidelines, not the high stds. of an American based manufacturer. Looking at an even bigger picture, one only needs to take a look at GM, a U.S. car manufacturer that has had to close several plants and reduce health care benefits for those employees they have been able to retain. If people are really moved by the Toyota spin that they are providing jobs in the U.S., people should stop and think about the jobs that are being lost due to sales going toward Toyota versus domestic cars. If more people bought cars from domestic manufacturers, the number of jobs that could be provided in the U.S. would surpass Toyota's presense. Those workers could work for an American company.
Right now, all of the "big three" are suffering in the sales dept. but this is in part due to the domestic market having a large SUV lineup and not the fuel efficient car lineup the Asian market has. The money Americans have, or actually don't have in their pockets right now to purchase a new vehicle, gas and maintenance has also had an impact.
The impetus behind having "Dr. Z," the Chairman of DaimlerChrysler, appear in ads was to emphasize a quality American and German engineered product that sets Chrysler apart from the Chevy and Ford. Has it had the bang the Chrysler marketing executives expected, not yet but the point of my long winded, somewhat jumbled response is that it is a coincidence that Toyota sales are up given the direction of the ads for the two manufacturers. Other, more significant factors are at play. Americans shouldn't buy into Toyota's "made in America" spin. Hopefully American consumers will do their homework before purchasing a vehicle.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Toddishi said...

It's interesting that the supposed 'uneducated' American consumers are purchasing the vehicles from foreign companies that continue to dominate the JD Power and associates yearly quality rankings. Just this year in fact, 6 of the top 10 manufacturers in initial quality were based in Asian countries. I think we're not giving enough credit to this creature we call the American consumer when we say that their main criteria when buying a car is whether or not it's made from recycled aluminum or whether or not the commercial made them laugh or inspired them to dole out 25K on a piece of machinery that's only going to depreciate the minute their handed the keys.

Let's give a little credit to the American consumer and realize that the trend in buying a foreign car is based on wanting a quality vehicle at a reasonable price, and not just whether or not it's going to make a statement about our patriotism or love for the environment.


The Man in the Black Pajamas

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Dr.Z's ads, to anonymous(1st) comment, blaah, blaah, blaah...does the word PITHY mean anything to you? You're such a popinjay. To "toddishi"....ZZZZzzzzzz. Respectfully, Dr.Z

1:32 PM  

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