Thursday, December 31, 2009

Friday, December 25, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tiger, S'miger. Got A Better Guy To Respect.

While Tiger Woods is busy running his National Tryst-a-thon campaign, a personal GM Escalade Cash-for-Clunkers program, and ruining his career....

While Obama's version of 'Change' seems to be simply changing into just another politician....

I got better guy that's earned my attention / respect -
Tony Dungy.

It's not the 'life coach' thing that 'wins the day', as admirable as all that IS. No, it's Tony's sense / consistency of Leadership, Integrity, and Approach that are the lessons for life.....and business.

For Tiger? MY advice? Simple - a] Keep your 'driver' in your bag for God's sake [ it for home-course play] and b] Call Tony to talk, listen, and learn.

Seems to me TD's the better 'Great Black Hope' [Too crass? Ha. Just sayin' what you're all thinking when you look at these guys.].

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What Car Fans Want From Auto Racing

Every Thursday, on the Internet Auto Show - FastLaneDaily - I get to do an Auto Racing segment - half news report / half LParente opinion-fest. But, always room to channel what I see from my perspective.

Last week, I decided it was time to 'shut up my voice' and ask the viewers what they liked / wanted from racing. The findings are here in the
11/19 ShakeDown, the second part of the FLD show.

Take it all in. Even go back and look @ the prior week show that set all this up and the viewer comments it generated. Then, ask yourself -

* Who in the Racing industry gets it?
* Who in the Auto industry gets it?

Of course, like racing, there are winners and losers.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Auto Industry MoonShot?

Working with the auto industry for soooo many years, I've seen / experienced a lot. 2009 has been a generational 'make or break' moment for Auto Mfgrs.

Yet, I still see far too much 'same old auto-thinking' for an industry-defining point in time. To me, the focus needs to go deeper than -

* Moving to 'Electric Avenue’ [Any LESS creative branding?],
* 'It's all about cost-cutting' as the 'fix' to everything,
* ‘Us vs Them’ heel-digging union battles,
* 'Back-to-Basics’ cheerleads still used by too many auto execs.

Instead, here are MY Top 10 action items / philosophical shifts that would make a difference, IMO –

10] Tear Up The History Book - Look forward, not back for new solutions / better product. It is NOT business / sales / anything as it used to be. And please make Camaro the last throwback design.

9] Think Near-Term AND Long-Term - I know sales are needed now, but living by the 30-day sales report will kill the future faster than....the way it killed Lehman.

8] Study Population / Household / Lifestyle / Income Trends - This is one area I believe the Industry is cluing in. But, applying this knowledge to product, sales, and MARKETING still shows wild swings in understanding.

7] If Auto / Mobility Is A ‘Necessity’ Of Life, Price Accordingly – MSRP, financing, leasing, the ZipCar model; Whatever it takes to make auto affordable. OR get in the transportation business; Whatever vehicles that presents [eg; a Mini, Saturn, or Smart scooter or pedal bike to me is not off-brand], including public trans [Remember GM busses and trains? GE doing an electric car to go with their jets engines and locomotives?].

6] Listen To My Mom! Live Within Your Means - Don’t spend if you don’t have [eg; pre-2009 GM, DCX]. Or at least, have a plan [Go Ford!].

5] Make EVERY CAR Count – Every model represents the brand, so every launch / every nameplate has to be a quality success. This ain’t sports. More wins vs losses is not good enough [Adopt the Saints / Colts / 2007 Patriots / UCLA Bruins roundball ‘win-it-all’ mindset].

4] Stop Commoditizing Your Product And Then Bitch That Buyer Passion For Auto Is Dying – Even today, ‘the DEAL’ / ‘the Guarantees’ lead the storytelling [At least Lutz, with his 'Perceptions' rant + Driving Challenges is focused on the cars].

3] Consult Great Minds Outside The Auto Industry, Especially For Marketing – This could be a rant all its own. But, I will leave it at this – I think Steve Jobs would market cars / run the biz differently. And my bucks would be on his success……

2] Set Product Priorities In Synch With Reality – Does Toyota and the world need the Lexus FL-A, right now? Every visit to an auto design studio leaves me in awe of the work and the talent, but the feeling that they are ‘playing with their toys’ in a workplace detached from the world.

1] See Right Now As A ‘MoonShot Moment' - I suggest the auto industry needs to stop the intramural competition at some level and band together find common solutions to make the 'Big Play' and save themselves from oblivion. This needs to happen at national [eg; US] and / or global levels [eg; vs China?]. Maybe it IS in play beyond my scope of awareness. Or maybe not, as too many execs still see this all as just another bump in the biz and sales will bounce back.

My fear is that without a philosophical change, the industry [or certain companies] will continue the ‘up / down’ cyclical performance right to their last day of business. Then, my desire to do more in Auto will have to be shifted to that FastFood Ramen concept.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Video Killed The Radio....And Now Cars!

We covered this before - Kuruma Banare - The declining interest in cars by young Japanese.

Toyota blames video games.
More comment on this

Really? Ask Subaru [WRX-STI], Mitsubishi [EVO], Mazda [MX3], Nissan [GT-R], and more who all successfully launched cars AND sales via getting the video car-boys enthralled / 'disciple-ed'.

But, what do I know.
The great Toyota can't be part of the problem, just like - it turns out, it's not GM
it's the agencies [for Cadillac and Chevy] that are the trouble.

I love the auto industry.
For the cars - For what it COULD be.
But [many times], NOT for what it IS.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Friday, July 03, 2009

What Will Make Cars Cool, Again?

Needless to say, the Auto Industry is in a fight for survival in the US - and sales are down across the globe. Many car companies are seen as something less than technically progressive, red ink is NOT great PR. 'Green' often gets interpreted as the antithesis of 'fun to drive' - eg; I fear a possible future of no-personality appliance automobiles!

Microsoft and Apple are turning the car into a rolling sound studio / web page.
And the SUV / CUV fetish convinces me that some car companies envision they are here to simply build rolling Tumi tote bags - eg; A great car is based on how much it can carry! ??

So, please
take my Poll and tell us what you think will make cars cool, again. Thanks.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

If Life Ran Like A Client / Agency Gig

Courtesy of Alex Conley who happens to be a freelance Detroit, MI - based photographer. [Detroit?.....To quote a great line from a favorite movie of mine - Michael Clayton, "And how's THAT going?".....]

Having been on both sides - client and [now] agency, I have been through this dance. And although I swear I never pulled it as THE client, I was in many a room when my employer company did.

Now, the hardest part - if / when the client's dialog gets to THIS point - is keeping a straight face!

But then, I play them the Clayton trailer just for the last line.....

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Automotive Option A or B

President Obama announced new policy that would raise Corporate Average Fuel Economy [CAFE] standards to 35.5mpg by 2016 [42mpg - cars, 26mpg - trucks]. The standards are meant to decrease fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and our dependence on foreign oil.

So, like before [in the '80's it was Trade Restrictions], the US Gov steps in to reset the bar on the US Auto Industry. In such scenarios, there is the opportunity to make the right move or....not.

Option A-
* Better more efficient cars [We have the technology and / or the brains to create it], that still perform [Don't need a honking 7.0L V8 to go fast. Any power source - electric or otherwise will work], still are fun to drive [It's really all about 'power to weight'], and still fit American needs [Interior space does NOT require Escalade-scale exterior footprints].

* Better buying, ownership, and service experiences. The auto dealer model is out of touch with the retailing options available to consumers in most other product / service categories. And when will the automakers figure out that their website can be a community-builder, not just an on-line brochure / info stop before consumers head everywhere else on the Internet to really do their purchase thinking?

* Better Marketing. Somewhere in the future the consumer connection will NOT be dependant on The Sales Event, The Deal, Incentives, The SuperBowl Ad and / or The Product Placement. 2 words for new marketing - Authentic. Relevant.

And then there is Option B-
* The 'Dinosaur-like Cling' to the status-quo, despite its inevitable path to extinction.

* Foot-stomping laments about the socialist destruction of 'great cars' like the 13mpg V10 Viper, the SUV-as-family-sedan, and anything with a curb weight over 2 tons!

* Working the
EPA loopholes on the new regs under the false nobility of "We're just giving the customers what THEY want".

Truth be told, some will step up, some will step out.
This IS a character test for ALL - the industry, consumers, our leadership. Time will tell.

But, I have faith.
I am looking forward to my 2016 hi-po fuel-cell-electric mid-engine sports car, sitting next to my 4dr 42mpg aero-sedan, both ordered / purchased On-line. Question is - Which brand will have the vision to have built them for me [And will it be one of the bailout brands from 2009]?

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The PDCA Alphabet

Found this song on YouTube.
Brought back memories and a PDCA thought.

PDCA Inc. is [or tries very hard to be] -
A = authentic
B = brave
C = creative
D = dependable
E = energetic
F = frugal
G = good
H = honest
I = idealistic
J = judicious
K = kinetic
L = loyal
M = methodical
N = never-say-quit
O = opportunistic
P = passionate
Q = quizzical
R = reliable
S = strategic
T = tactical
U = uprousing
V = veteran
W = worth it
X = xenophilic
Y = young-eyed
Z = zealous

Now, just need to record OUR version of the song..... [no way!]

PS- Had to sing that damned Muppets song in a Natick High School musical! 
PS2- Wife hates song, too.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Better Than Susan Boyle

....and here's why.

1] The kid handled pressure with control, [quiet] confidence, and preparation [was ready with more than one solution].

2] Simon proved the concept of staying TRUE to the 'essence' of the product [or brand or person] to deliver the best [ be the best, be what you are].

3] A 2nd perspective always brings vision to any situation [Mentors, anyone].

Enjoy the performance, but think about the lesson for your work, career, life. Just saying.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Somewhere between the 'denial of facts' mindset of ex-prez Bush [love saying 'ex'] and the 'pending disaster' mood one feels sitting through a Gilbert Gottfried performance at The Friar's Club....'d understand the vibe holding court at this year's Press Days.

Now, I can rant on about too many SUV's, ugly GMC's, MB E-Class Japanese taillights / Rubbermaid dash pieces, the too-cool Kia Forte, Jim Press-edition Fiat 500's, et al.....

....BUT to me, the 'big aha' in this new age of bailouts / 'make it or break it' business models is that BRANDS [not nameplates] are where people will make their purchase-choice decision.

I suggest it is no longer about Mustang, Camaro, Challenger, Camry, Accord, Genesis, or 3 Series. It is about the buyer faith in FORD, GM, CHRYSLER, TOYOTA, HONDA, HYUNDAI, BMW, etc..

First the brand, THEN the model picking.

So, watch Ford, Hyundai, Fisker [yes], Toyota, Honda, and any VW Group brand. Nissan will make gains, the other Euros will hold only their loyalists, and that may be it. The rest will need to make dramatic moves to stay in the game.

PS - GM PUMA to me is like
TVLand's 'The Cougar'. Both give me the same 'What are they thinking? / What does this say about your brand?' stomach queeze [what WOULD Stacey think if I picked her up in a PUMA?].

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Never Quit

Focus - On the goal, away from the distractions.
Push - Keep fighting, tenacity wins.

What's true for Formula 1, truly works in the world as we know it today.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Kuruma Banare


In Japan, young people's interest is shifting from cars to communication tools like computers, mobile phones, ipods, and creativity 'expressions' like video making, blog posting, and networking home pages.

Sounds like America, me.

So, the auto industry issues may require deeper thinking than just more Zero Financing, recasting SUV's as CUV's, and freshened retro Muscle Cars.

But, then again, it's always been about personalization and understanding / delivering on consumer needs / expectations / desires. It's a 'Mad Men' thing that starts @ The Product.