Monday, August 15, 2005

Julie Roehm: Master of the Market

I'm not usually a fan of the belief that a good marketing job can sell any product. I think if a product is good, the buyers will come. Usually. I think that if a good product has a bad ad campaign, the buyers will still come. Come to think of it, have you ever heard of a best-selling product not having a good ad campaign? It sort of seems like the two go hand in hand, or perhaps one follows the other.

Of course sometimes I'm wrong, though my massive ego makes it hard to admit this. Enter Julie Roehm courtesy of an article from the Detroit Free Press. Ms. Roehm is in charge of marketing for Dodge.

Now I believe that in the mid-size pickup segment, Silverado, F-150, and Ram, you have basically three very competent products. At that point I think a clever marketing campaign can make a difference. And Ms. Roehm's has certainly. The word Hemi is now back in the English lexicon, even though the engines that these trucks use are not hemispherically opposed. But whatever.

I can't remember the last time I laughed at a car commercial. Most car commercials show the car driving down winding roads, with a nondescript driver usually wearing shades, Enya music in the background. But these actually told a story, complete with a mullet wearing redneck duo asking about the Hemi, and dreaming about owning one. Funny stuff.

Here in the UK where there is less self-imposed censorship by TV channels, I have actually seen a somewhat vulgar car ad on television. It is for the Mazda 5. A man loads up his Mazda 5 with mannequins, all female. As he drives one of the mannequins comes to life and is "turned on" by the car. She pulls at her skirt, and touches her bosom. You can even hear her sigh. At the end, the man parks, gets out of the car and notices that the female mannequin's nipples are hard through her dress. In America, if this ad were shown I would expect some bombings of Mazda dealerships. The French Mazda ad probably has the mannequins completely nude.

It's an interesting comparison to our American sensibilities. If you read the article on Ms. Roehm, we find out that she was responsible for the lingerie bowl ad for the Super Bowl. There was an uproar over something that was comparitively tame by international standards.

I don't know where I'm heading with this, but it seems to me that ads play an important role in our lives to an extent not really known. They are also a reflection of the country's culture. A more sexually free place like Northern Europe will have more sexually explicit ads. An American one will emphasize power and force.

Just a couple more notes that really have nothing to do with the above blog entry. Virtually every car I have seen in England has right hand drive. Even though with the strength of the pound you can import a car rather easily from Europe, most British refuse because the steering wheel is on the other side. I have seen only one truly American car over here; it was an older Lincoln Navigator. And the police sirens aren't that different from American ones either.

so...london...yeah. i watched the american version of the office today. vastly inferior. if the british version never existed then maybe the american one would be funny. meet any british girls who find your accent sexy yet? next time you go to a pub, try the bellhaven or the smithwick's (thats pronounced smittiks). there's a scottish bar here in st. louis that has a bunch of english beers that are all pretty good. now that i think about it they all taste pretty much the same. also, an imperial pint is the same volume as a regular pint.
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