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Mazda Recall Is an Arachnophobe’s Worst Nightmare

*Someone needs to give me a medal for inserting this image into this post without yielding to a complete mental breakdown

Disclaimer: This PRNewser writer is the definition of an arachnophobe — meaning, I would sooner hop into a burning car than one filled with spiders. Think that’s kind of a strange and specific example? Think again.

I learned about this bit of news via a text from a loving family member who has spent our lives demonstrating that love through acts of spider-related harassment. “Hear about the Mazda6 recall?” it read. “It’s your worst nightmare.”

According to Reuters, for the second time in three years, an eight-legged engineering challenge called the Yellow Sack Spider has caused Mazda Motor Corp to issue a major recall for Mazda6 sedans in North America; the spider, which likes the smell of gasoline (who doesn’t?) weaves a web that blocks a vent in the engine. These webs can restrict fuel flow, reducing fuel tank pressure when the emission control system releases vapors from the evaporative canister. This can put extra stress on the fuel tank, which could potentially crack and leak fuel, increasing the risk of a fire.

That’s right. Spiders are trying to blow you up. Read more

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Brand Moves: Audi Snaps Into Action and E*TRADE Scraps the Cheeky Baby

Audi Snapchat Dog Courtesy of HUGEBeing a brand that’s witty, irreverent or challenges convention isn’t so easy, especially since those companies set the bar high and their customers come to expect unique, creative ads and social communications. Two such brands, Audi and E*TRADE, shared their stories at Ad Age’s Digital Conference this week in New York. Audi detailed their use of Snapchat during the Super Bowl game, and E*TRADE discussed their decision to end their popular baby ad campaign.

Audi picks up the pace: “Being a challenger brand gives us an edge”, said Anna Russell, Audi’s general manager of brand marketing. She outlined the car brand’s core messages: they’re “champions of progress”, using LED lighting, they “challenge convention”, particularly with their Quattro system, and they’re a “brand of action” and frequent sports sponsor.

Still, as Aaron Shapiro, CEO of their agency, HUGE, noted, with the Oreo effect, “now every brand is piling on no matter how relevant or not” in real-time marketing during events. He said Audi didn’t want to use a “me-too strategy”. (Plus, they needed to be careful since they were involved in a 2010 Super Bowl campaign controversy).

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Tesla’s Latest Press Release Satisfies Your GIF Fix


We’re not up for making sweeping generalizations on a Monday morning, but Tesla’s latest corporate announcement definitely raises some questions about the future of the press release.

Rather than go the traditional route, CEO Elon Musk took time off from his day job serving as Larry Page’s favorite charity organization to publish the release under his own name as a Medium post. It’s both a product launch and the latest step in an ongoing campaign to control the damage stemming from safety concerns with Tesla cars.

Don’t worry; Musk sticks to his famously aggressive messaging style and adds a few GIFs for emphasis.

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Nissan Blames Agency for Tweet Knocking Tesla

Last week Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors poached Nissan’s PR chief to lead its marketing and communications efforts. We can see why the larger company might respond by one-upping the upstart, but based on its response to a quippy tweet, we do not think this clip summarizes its strategy moving forward:

While the tweet mentioned by Autoblog Green [H/T Jalopnik] focused on the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission’s decision to block the company from implementing its direct sales model in the state, it’s all in good fun between competitors on social, right?

Maybe not. Nissan immediately deleted the image and blamed it on its social media agency. Pic after the jump.

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Dodge Has Ron Burgundy to Thank for Sales Increase

Will-Ferrell-as-Ron-Burgundy-Now-Appearing-in-Dodge-Durango-Ads-PRNewserWe’ve been talking a lot about Ron Burgundy lately, as he’s appeared in promos for everything from whiskey to ice cream. But aside from being entertaining, we now know that at least one of his cross-promotions has tangible value — his spokesperson status for Dodge Durango.

The videos featuring Will Ferrell as the bumbling 1970′s-era news anchor have been viewed over 15.3 million on YouTube and are still attracting traffic. But video views do not necessarily a successful campaign make, so what kind of effect has the character’s sponsorship actually been having on the brand itself?

Well, it seems Mr. Burgundy was right when he said, “People know me…I’m kind of a big deal.”

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MINI USA: the Car Brand Keeps it Cheeky in Real-Time

“It’s tricky to react quickly. So brands should be prepared to be spontaneous”, said Lee Nadler, marketing communications manager at MINI USA. He offered that advice, along with creative content and marketing tips, at ANA’s recent Real-Time Marketing Conference in New York.

The petite (aka “itty biggy”) British car brand has maximized its U.S. presence. When MINI first launched here 12 years ago, they threw a party, jointly hosted with The New Yorker magazine, at a showroom venue in Manhattan’s up-and-coming Chelsea neighborhood. “MINI works of art” featured several MINI cars where artists had painted the roofs with “you-nique” themes.

Fast forwarding to 2013, how does MINI’s lean marketing and comms staff and agency (Beam Interactive) stay ever-so-clever on real-time’s race track? For starters, check out this video about the car’s soon-to-be-redesigned MINI Hard Top model creative contest. The MINI Final Test Test Drives clip shows the brand’s marketing and design employees’ tongue-in-cheek reactions to the crowd-sourcing concept. (video courtesy of MINI USA)

Nadler provided a road map highlighting how the MINI brand stays fresh in real-time.

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Narcissistic? This Lexus Will Paint your Portrait While You Drive!

Art Is Motion - The Project - YouTubeIn case being seen whipping around corners and gliding down thruways in a high-end luxury car doesn’t do quite enough for your ego, Lexus, for its new “Art is Motion” ad campaign, has created an in-car app that paints your portrait based on the way you drive.


Your speed and driving style determine the precision of the brush stroke, while the color palate is determined by which part of the Lexus IS 300h’s hybrid engine you’re using at the time the portrait is being painted. We can just imagine being invited to a dinner party at which the host unveils his portrait, done by his car.

“And this strong brush stroke here is when I cut off that idiot who had the audacity to travel in the passing lane,” he’d say while simultaniously pointing to the work of art and swirling his glass of wine as his guests nod politely.

While the cars we drive, and the manner in which we drive them, have always been tied to our greater identities in some way, this campaign takes that association quite literally — and to a whole (incredibly pretentious, but still kind of cool) new level. “The project is the construction of the identity as a hybrid between genetics and experience, which will be represented by a photograph of the driver and the driving experience,” explains the artist who helped develop the software. Read more

Ladies: Buying a Car with is So Easy, You Don’t Even Need a Man to Help You! | A Better Way - YouTubeConsidering the gullible, easily confused, passive, and exploitable little creatures that women inherently are, it’s about time a company came up with a way to help us buy cars all by our wispy, delicate selves, without the need to bring a strong, savvy man along to ensure we don’t swoon at the first sight of something shiny or get swindled by a smooth-talking dealer.

Enter, white knight of the auto world, here to save women from themselves — or at least that seems to be the message of its current advertising.

While it seems the below ad has been around for a while, I hadn’t had the pleasure of being exposed to it until this past weekend, while catching up on a few TV shows via Hulu.

“At the dealership I was trying to hold my own, and it’s kind of tough,” says the first woman who appears in the spot. At this point, I was a little annoyed by the damsel in distress thing, but kept watching with a fairly open mind — no one likes car dealers, after all.

But then another woman comes on, and a third one (not one man), all talking about how after using TRUECar, they felt “confident going in on [their] own and closing the deal on [their] own.”

Okay, now I was definitely getting disgruntled. But then, just in case viewers had missed the less-than-subtle subtext, the last line delivered by one of the women is that, thanks to, “I don’t need to bring a dude with me.”

And that’s when my rather-miffed moment became a full-blown WTF moment. Read more

Love Dogs? So Does Volkswagen!

We’ll take a break from bemoaning our lack of a puppy to go over Volkswagen‘s new canine-friendly campaign, which is a good example of a “saturate all media” strategy:

It’s not just a cute TV spot: it’s a social campaign based on a classic strategy that never fails: send us pictures of your dogs and tell us why they are the best dogs ever.

The hashtag #woofwagen is brilliant, and fans have already started submitting their own pictures:

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Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy Now Appearing in Dodge Durango Ads

Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy Now Appearing in Dodge Durango Ads - PRNewserWhen Chrysler wanted to brand itself as the embodiment of the American spirit — coming from nothing, being put through the ringer, only to come out the other side better than the best — it released its rousing “Imported from Detroit” ad featuring Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.” When the company wanted to hammer that “Americans are tough” point home again, it hired Clint Eastwood to narrate its gritty, inspiring “Halftime” spot. Now, the same company has announced a new spokesman for its Dodge line — star of the raunchy comedy “Anchorman”, Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell).

So… we can only deduce that the new branding message is less “Rah Rah America!” and more of an attempt to prove once and for all that the Dodge Durango is the Sex Panther of cars?

Not exactly.

“He is very much like Dodge. He is unapologetic. He is irreverent. He has a great deal of attitude,” Olivier Francois, Chrysler’s chief marketing officer, told the Free Press. “People think they already know the Durango, so then you have to be twice as engaging in a marketing campaign,” said Francois. “What could be more engaging and entertaining … than to explain all of the new technology and features through the eyes of a guy who comes from the ’70s?” Read more