As a brand planner and marketer I have always wondered what it was that motivated a middle aged man in rural Kentucky to only put the highest grade motor oil in his car when on his dinner table he served onion greens and pork shoulder? It didn’t make sense to me. Yet it was a reality. Many American’s today are still extremely brand loyal – in some cases, perhaps, to a fault. But they are not stupid.
All of this pro-American advertising bullshit in the automotive category is pandering and silly. The reason Americans are buying foreign cars is because the cars are better. They perform better, they look better, and they handle better. The reason we’ve maintained our lead in the truck market is because we’ve remained more competitive in trucks; our trucks are flat out superior. The wonderful “American” imagery and Bob Seger-ish music associated with truck advertising over the years is has been spectacular, but is is not a disguise for good product. The product design in the truck category was awesome, evolved, and in touch with it’s buyers. General Motor and Ford trucks were well packaged and sold.
American car design is just beginning to make a statement. Let’s ride good product design for a while before we trot out the “Buy American” approach. And don’t think for a minute that the new Saturn ads aren’t buy American pandering. They protest too much, I sayeth.