Category Archives: Chrysler

Predicting where the social dice will fall

When digital shop Organic hired economist Jason Harper to evaluate ad campaigns, Harper had a brilliant idea — rather than use social media to push sales messages or monitor fuzzy “sentiment,” how about crunching social media mentions to predict whether current ad campaigns will hit their lead targets? In other words, every campaign that penetrates consumer word of mouth tools such as Twitter’s tweets or Facebook’s Likes has an ebb and flow — a baseline of buzz before the campaign, a spike in mentions as the campaign message scales, and then a radical falloff of chatter. By measuring the velocity and acceleration of the curves, Harper came up with predictive models showing whether in-market advertising was on track.

MIT’s Technology Review reports Harper has successfully done this for auto companies and brands such as Kotex. The article mentions only a few case studies, and one client, Chrysler, eventually moved on to another agency, but we love the concept. Social media may not be about pushing sales or pulling mentions; instead, it could be about monitoring what consumers are saying about your ads in traditional channels, and then adjusting your course accordingly.

Image: Rob W.

Chevy Vegas and Dodge Darts: Consumers remember when you’re bad

When we were a teenager learning to drive, our father told us of a Dodge Dart he once owned where the shift lever came off in his hand. We laughed as he recalled the f***-ing crappy design and how it almost killed him, as he went down a hill across an intersection with the rod waving in the air … it was in fact the first time we heard our dad drop the F bomb.

More than 25 years later we still think of American cars as substandard, even though some, especially Ford, have improved quality and come forth with innovative, efficient designs.The ad above, for the 72 Chevy Vega, may represent the worst automobile of all time, according to a U.S. consumer survey. That car was littered with design defects; pistons were mismatched to cylinders, the carburetor tended to catch fire, the body oozed rust. Bob Eicholz of Hollywood, Calif., commented “after 20,000 miles of gentle driving, it needed a valve job, and possibly a new engine, a new clutch, a new transmission sync gear and new tires.”

The irony of marketing is that consumers need incredible stimuli to think differently about a product tomorrow, but they carry word-of-mouth opinions from yesterday for decades. Once a person’s mind is set against a product, it’s almost impossible to change. The recoil of Americans as they ponder a vast bailout for the U.S. auto industry is almost amazingly unpatriotic, until you consider the pent-up anger consumers feel based on decades of automotive design incompetence. Yes, U.S. cars have improved dramatically … but buyers still remember.

As you head into the new year it might be worth mapping what customers think about your past products. Like a therapist trying to improve a relationship, you can’t move people forward until you address the sins of the past.