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Wednesday was a day filled with marketing statistics, reporting, ideas, videos, commercials, banter, conjecture and more. Ultimately what Automotive News set out to achieve again this year was, I my opinion, point the industry/crowd/listeners to what is and will be happening in the landscape of media and marketing. Did it happen?

Joel Ewanick from Hyundai detailed a number of aspects of the Hyundai Assurance program that has gained the brand major accolades in addition to being mimicked by over 100 companies. His retelling of the time line (just over 30 days) that they produced the campaign in along with the supporting aspects of such a program was impressive. The presentation lacked a 'forward' element, which I'm sure HMA already has done, but that's not likely what he was asked to speak about.

Scion's Jack Hollis struck what I thought was the closest blow to the nail from an engagement standpoint regarding experiential marketing, lifestyle and connection with customers. "We want community" is as close to where a marketer needs to be today! Great visuals were backed by his actual participation in events (and no, not just in a room to watch usability studies through a two-way mirror).

Judy Wheeler form Chrysler (replacement for the absent Steven Landry) had a good presentation that understandably had no major 'forward' view. After having their marketing budget slashed by 50% last week by the White House and Auto Task Force, there was not much to address besides the 'impending' marriage with Fiat. She did bring some ads that are in the hopper which centered around what Chrysler and Jeep brand "build".

John Maloney of Volvo hit on some solid points around their shift from the traditional 'national' unveiling and detailed a number of great points about the XC60's recent 'new' launch campaign. It sounds like Volvo will use the money-saving, impact increasing method again in the near future. He also focused on the brand's image with the new 'City Safety' accident avoidance system.

John Mendel from Honda spoke the words that you rarely hear today: brand, value, consistency. He repeated that call time and again throughout his session which included a throw-back to a nearly 50-year-old Honda motorcycle commercial! Flipping from decade to decade in content and conversation, Mr. Mendel was able to address the solid focus at Honda (along with their agency RPA) that should enable them to deliver more 'safe' marketing. Hopefully they do get a little more edgy than their Facebook and Twitter involvement...

And then there was Mike Sullivan, a.k.a. "L.A. Car Guy", bringing color and comedy to the stage for a retailer's perspective. He got into hard hitting numbers, results, marketing mix, Internet effect and other, more typical in better financial times, tangibles like charity, community involvement and other brand building mantras. Mr. Sullivan and his staff are more than dedicated to their marketing goals and seem poised to achieve success through their different initiatives. They still may have some room to grow on integrated media and retention, but they are clearly looking for more ways to deliver on their Interactive brand.

The closing panel with all the speakers answering questions got a little better, especially around the newspaper/print aspect. While Chrysler's recent direction was more heavily tilted toward print, the overwhelming opinion was a shift away from the paper and to the web. By the same token, these marketers have not hit pay dirt as many marketing efforts still leave behind the largest potential as well as target: the consumer. Content consumption has changed and even content creation has had a noticeable shift. Out industry still lacks the 'teeth' it needs, especially at retail, to really engage the consumer to become part of their lives, especially away from their vehicles.

Overall, it was a great time around well over a thousand ad agency, automotive marketing, manufacturers and service provider folks. Wonder what it'll be like next year...

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