Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Suffering From Agonizing Slogan Swaps

If you were paying attention, then you probably noticed a change in Toyota's advertising in the new year.  In 2013, the Toyota is no longer "Moving Forward" but calling the public to say "Let's Go Places."  

According to Toyota Division general manager Bill Fay, the new position is "energetic, aspirational, inclusive, and very versatile."  He continues that its "dual meaning of physically going places and taking off on an adventure, while also expressing optimism and the promise of exciting innovation that enriches people's lives."

Although "Moving Forward" isn't an awe-inspiring position, it did reinforce Toyota's leadership position in pioneering the mainstream hybrid car market.  However, Toyota's new marketing position is kicking it in reverse with the pedal to the floor.  "Let's Go Places" doesn't have a dual meaning;  it has zero meaning.  Those three little words don't actually convey energy or aspire anyone to anything.  But they are versatile.  So versatile in fact, they could slapped on an advertisement for any other brand in the world and communicate just as much.  When developing a unique marketing position, the more versatile a slogan is, the less it will say about the product and attributes the brand is designed to represent.

Sadly, the most cringe-inducing element of these three pointless words isn't even how little they communicate but that they are the product of a collaborative effort by six marketing agencies - Saatchi & Saatchi, Dentsu America, Conill, Burrell, Intertrend and Grieco Research.  

If that wasn't sad enough, Chevrolet is right behind Toyota in replacing a position with new one that manages to say even less.  "Chevy Runs Deep," which at least suggests something about the history and America heritage of the product, is being replaced with "Find New Roads."

In an interview with AdAge, Chevrolet's Chief Marketing Officer Alan Batey explains why he believes "Find New Roads" is an upgrade.  "We know it creates a lot of meaning and is also very flexible. You can think of two vehicles, in very different spaces, perhaps a Volt and a heavy duty truck [and it applies to both]. We also think it translates into the services we provide our customers; it gives us an opportunity to surprise and delight our customers."

In reality, customers won't think of either vehicle. But, unintentionally, Batey pinpoints the biggest problem with the Chevy brand.  Everything from a tiny electric car to a massive heavy-duty pick up truck carries the Chevy name and obviously, they all have wildly different key attributes.  Therefore, it's difficult to communicate meaningfully relevant positions about each of them with a single statement.

To most effectively communicate important differences with consumers, they need to use different brands.

Unfortunately, I have my doubts about brand marketers' intent on finding and taking this road.

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