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Eric Miltsch

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The Subservient Chicken
Image via Wikipedia
Car Czar. That's got a cool ring to it...who wouldn't want to have "Czar" in their job title?

Congress is calling for someone to be named "Car Czar" to manage the estimated $7 billion-plus marketing budget allocated to the big three.

Whoever gains control of this $7 billion advertising windfall will instantly trump Proctor & Gamble and become the nation's single largest advertiser. The problem? Who the hell do you put in this position?

To start, cross off all the automotive advertising guys. They're among the latest adopters of new marketing solutions and have proven they don't get the cost effective structure of the new media landscape.

Next, cross off the traditional agencies & Madison Ave. folks. The traditional channel choices are ineffective, expensive and unaccountable.

Lastly, cross off the politicians and those out of touch with anything A.G. (After Google) Paul Volker is one name being tossed around. Granted, he's an intelligent guy - but still, he's an 81 year old economist who helped Jimmy Carter fight stagflaltion back in the 70's. How in tune can he be with cutting edge automotive advertising/marketing strategies that will help fix one of our key industries? Other considerations: Nancy Pelosi and attorney Kenneth Feinberg. FAIL#1 & FAIL#2.

The solution? Someone who will cause a massive ripple in the marketing circle. Online channels will need to be used in ways never seen or experienced before. Google, Yahoo & MSN need to be brought into the equation as strategic partners to allow for maximum cost-efficiencies for paid search and the programmers need to be involved to ensure the most relevant information is quickly served to online shoppers. Google's massive inventory of radio, print and TV ad space needs to be utilized and managed - the cost savings can be upwards of 90% depending on the medium and market chosen.

What else? Mandatory continuing education for the industry. Make them stay on top of the current strategies, technology and the solutions. Doctors, accountants and even members of the IT community are required to maintain current credit standings; no excuse why the auto industry can't become students of the game as well. Great way to weed out the dinosaurs and change public perceptions.

This can include everything from online strategies to basic website knowledge. (A plethora of training exists, but nobody is forced to attend. And those conducting the current classes have an different motive - they're selling a product.)

The spending needs to stop. Ford doesn't need to spend $40 million to name a sports stadium. Don't tell me its branding. Its Ford. Who is going to forget the name Ford? They would be better off setting up "Ford Online Shopping Kiosks" in the stadium and let customers interact with them at the game. (Hello Microsoft Surface.)

So, what's the solution? Here's my short list and even shorter explanations.

  • Snarky interactive agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky. These are the guys who made Subservient Chicken and those cool Burger Kings ads.
  • Me. I love cars, I love the online element of the automobile industry and I love to stir things up. Plus, I won't charge you anywhere close to Madison Ave. rates.(Congress, feel free to contact me with more specific ideas.)
  • You. User generated content in the form of manufacturer, dealer and end-user feedback is the most powerful and trusted information. This is what the public wants to see and hear when they do their online search. And its cheap.
  • What do you think? What would you do as the Car Czar?

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