• Jan 16, 2009
Automotive journalism legend David E. Davis, Jr., may find himself heading a new magazine if an independent effort to spiff up Detroit's image can find a footing. New York's Kelmenson, Davis (yes, that Davis) & Associates is trying to turn up $50 million to create a non-profit entity to spread the word about the great strides domestic automakers have made lately. The concept, which would be outwardly similar to the "Got Milk" campaign, was developed by Tony Kuhn, an executive partner at KDA.
The $50 million would fund a marketing effort aimed at convincing Americans to take another look at General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. The advertising would be augmented by a cable TV documentary and a Davis-helmed "American Drive" magazine. Former Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca thinks it's a dandy idea, and has even lobbied on Kelmenson's behalf to auto executives. While they're flattered by the attention and support the idea, honchos at General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford have passed on bankrolling it. While we're not able to throw any money at it, either, Detroit's perception versus reality gap is a palpable problem, and it would be nice to see some of the buying public receive a more up-to-date education.

[Source: AdAge]


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  • 30 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      There are countless stories from American drivers who drove an import (European and Asian) decided to give detroit (no, I didn't misspell the city, lowercase on purpose) another try, only to undergo a bad experience and swear never again.

      Fool us once, detroit, shame on you. Fool us three or four times, shame on us. Initial quality awards, that detroit loves to proclaim, means when you first get the car, INITIALLY. Once the car begins to age, however, all bets are off.

      The Big Fools in detroit may have yet again seen the error of their ways, but as expensive as cars have become lately, why take another chance? Demonstrate to America that the quality has genuinely improved for a consecutive ten year time frame, with a reputation that isn't manufactured from Madison Ave., and maybe they might have the opportunity to increase sales domestically.

      Until then, hell no.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The big 3 have been making terrible cars for close to 30 years now, I'd be surprised if they were able to repair their image within 10-15 years if not longer (someone already mentioned this).

      Toyota and Honda have been building quality cars for over 20 years, that's why no one is buying the super sweet super awesome Malibu everyone is talking about. They bought one 10 years ago, 5 years ago or even 3 years ago and it was complete junk.

      Big 3 doesn't understand that they don't need to persuade their fan base to buy their cars, people that buy American b/c it's American will always buy American.

      They need to persuade the average car buyer with no brand loyalty that does his research looking at people's reviews and forums. They won't be able to do that for another 10 years at best. No advertising campaign is gonna change that. People know that the fact that a car looks nice doesn't mean its well made, cause odds are they've bought one within the last 30 years and it was terrible even though it looked good. This just seems to me like a plot of some people to make money on the downfall of the big 3.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "The big 3 have been making terrible cars for close to 30 years "
        And you base that brainfart on what?
        I have been driving "the big three" cars, Ford's, some Chrysler and mostly GM since 1967 and not one, I repeat, not one has ever left me stranded or cost major money in repairs. And if they did I'd dump them in a heartbeat just like the 05 Lexus my wife leased and after the second year was counting the days until the lease expired and return to GM.
        In case you have'nt noticed, ALL carmakers are losing sales. And only one, the supreme Masiah of the car industry has lost market share. Toyota.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The printed automotive word is dead and your time Mr. Davis is done, just retire. It was only a plan to help drive his new magazine venture and feed his large ego of self-importance.
      • 6 Years Ago
      A lot of hate and ignorance on here. We can all agree there are some American cars that would've been better off not made. An objective person might also be willing to concede there have been many BMWs, Audis, Mercedes and more that have failed the quality test.

      What defines quality? What is reasonable (and unreasonable) to expect on a car built today? Referencing the past is all well and good to support an angry point, but how far back can one reasonably mine the past before treading on irrelevance?

      I will agree that Detroit hasn't done a very good job making quality job one - until recently. I think its time to be objective about what we expect from industry these days. This marketing push is probably a good idea. The industry has a lot of hard work ahead of it changing corporate culture and eliminating the negative elements that hold itself down.
        • 6 Years Ago
        People seem to forgive a $60,000 import when it has to go to the shop, but have the same thing happen on a $15,000 econocar and people take it personally. Not sure why that is but it always seems to be the case. Maybe when you overpay for a Mercedes you feel a subconscious need to justify that by believing it's a superior car to a Civic?
      • 6 Years Ago
      I hope they do find some funding, and not from government.

      Far too many folks think the Detroit Three are still building disappointing garbage. Sure, there are some duds still in their lineups, but a lot of the newer stuff (at least from Ford and GM) is very impressive.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Don't we already have this in "Buy American"? (regardless of the extent to which it has been successful). I mean, as a country we should be rallying around all products American, and not fighting for it on a per segment basis ("Buy American Cars!" , "Buy Chinese Toys!").

        Note that I said "American" - I don't care about which/who manufactures them, or even if the big 3 are supplanted by other, better, domestic companies. Within our own ecosystem, we should have winners and losers as dictated by the markets. The fact that we don't is a big part of the reason why foreign automakers excel here.

        For example: at the tactical level, It's great that Iococca turned Chrysler around and repaid their loan - but at the strategic 20 years later, did we really end up with a Honda or Toyota beater? No, we got a Chysler that seems to have limped between sporadic successes and bad business deals (merger of equals). How much better could we have been if Chrysler would have died off when it should have instead of life support? And, surprise!, here we are again with Chrysler with it's hand out - is anybody really surprised?



      • 6 Years Ago
      For me, the problem with Detroit isn't buid quality, it's relying on Detroit to fix my car IF something is wrong. This is the case with any domestic manufacturer, from Ford to Harley Davidson, and it is the problem that is never mentioned in ther perception argument.

      I've owned several American vehicles and several imports, both Japanese and German. When the American vehicles had trouble under warranty, the domestic dealership fight me tooth and nail to fix the problem. "Well, why didn't you take it to another dealership then?" Sure, I would do that, with the next dealership telling me they either wouldn't do warranty work on a car they didn't sell, or they wouldn't fix warranty work that another dealership performed.

      When my Japanese or German or Korean car had a problem, the response was, "No problem. Bring the car in and we'll take care of it." If I wasn't happy with the work that was performed, like that damned VW dealership I bought from, I took it to another dealership, where they promptly took my car and fixed the problem, despite not having purchased from them or originally having the work performed by them.

      The difference is a result of how dealership are reimbursed for warranty work by the manufacturer. I wouldn't have trouble at an American dealership if the service shop was paid the same way an Import dealership service shop was paid. This is the problem that has to be addressed before I can feel comfortable about buying from an Domestic manufacturer again.
        • 6 Years Ago
        That is not an equal comparison.

        It is because the manufacturers (Ford, Chevy, Chrysler) do not equally compensate a dealership for warranty work they perform that you have the inequity in service.

        Yes, you can have good and bad dealership on both sides, and my prior VW experience proves that, but when it came time to take my VW to another dealership, no questions were asked. Same has held true for my parents' Hyundai.

        With the Fords, Chevys, and Jeeps, that was far from the case. It was always a wrestling match to get the work done, because the service departments don't want to mess with 2/3 payment work when they can have full-payment (non-warranty) work come through the door.

        Pop into a Harley dealer (I can think of one on Indy's south side) as an example of how a domestic dealership, and they aren't a bad dealership, will not perform work on a bike NOT purchased from them, unless it is a unique situation (like someone traveling on the bike from outside their area).

        And I've had bad Sony products, and never blamed Circuit City. I've never been happy with Sony junk and avoid their stuff at all costs.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "I've owned several American vehicles and several imports, both Japanese and German. When the American vehicles had trouble under warranty, the domestic dealership fight me tooth and nail to fix the problem. "Well, why didn't you take it to another dealership then?" Sure, I would do that, with the next dealership telling me they either wouldn't do warranty work on a car they didn't sell, or they wouldn't fix warranty work that another dealership performed."

        My BS detector just went off. Warranty work is a source of income regardless of where you bought the car. You may get stuck at the end of the list, but a good dealer will do every thing possible to make you happy hoping you will return to him for your next purchase.
        How would you feel if you went to a dealer for the second time for a passenger window that would power down but not up and your wife overheard the service writer tell the mechanic "the assholes back again"? A Lexus dealer.
        Admit your bias and move on.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I had a long response to Caddy-V, but this reply system is screwy again.

        Here is the short of it:

        Learn how the reimbursement systems are different before spouting off. It's not apples to apples.

        Someone with Caddy-V as a tag is certainly the biased one. Ford has some great products now, but the service is what concerns me still.

        • 6 Years Ago
        It's not the manufacturer, it's the dealer. I've had good warranty service from an import dealer and I've had bad. The same goes for domestics. You might as well blame Sony because you got bad service from Circuit City.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Davis is the Clarkson of yesterday.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I can see the campaign now - "Detroit - we're REALLY better this time, and we mean it! Gamble $20,000 to $50,000 on one of our cars to see if it's true."

      Yeah, that'll bring the import crowd back.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Influencing perception is the one area the Big 3 lag behind their competitors.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Marketing. Fine.

      Not on my dime.

      This has turned into a feeding trough, and the people coming to it are turning into pigs.

      Where do they think Fifty Million Dollars are going to come from, that aren't already there?

      A good idea doesn't justify legalized theft. The only reason it is legal, is because the government makes the law, makes the deals, and points a gun or a prison guard at people who refuse.

      This is deplorable, and has to stop. Now is as good a time as any time in the future. The past would have been better.

      For everyone who denies the slippery slope argument, please take note upon what we are all sliding down. The bottom is not a soft landing.
        • 6 Years Ago
        And, BTW, after owning 3 Fords, I looked at Fusion. No stick, no RWD or real AWD, no sale.

        I used to be a mustang FANATIC, way more than I am even a boxer fanatic right now...

        But the languishing chassis technology, and increasing weight and size in the Mustang since the 80s has fallen behind. If they built a Mustang today that was a 21st century current-tech version of the fox body mustang... Light, RWD, with options for efficient or powerful engines, current styling, and IRS... and a fastback 3-door bodystyle, and convertible, and maybe a 2-door coupe... And heck, even a chassis-shared RWD Sport Sedan under another name, even like Falcon, or something...

        If they had something like that, that was worth buying, I would STILL be a Mustang fanatic.

        I don't hate domestic cars, but they refuse to build something I want to buy.

        And building attractive versatile quality products will do more than any ad campaign to push average front-driven appliances, or ugly vehicles.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I can't imagine anyone would want to try to sell a fanatic like BoxerFanatic or any of the other NA haters on a North American car. What's the point? Haters' little minds are set in stone. So you can rest assured that no matter how hard anyone tries, your views will not be changed.

        What Detroit will try to change is the views of decent people with properly functioning mental processes, who have simply changed their brand loyalty because of positive experiences elsewhere. If they can show some of these people that they have interesting products (like Fiesta) with exciting new features (like Sync) and quality that won't disappoint them (like Fusion) and high efficiency (like Fusion Hybrid), then they can start to turn their market share back upwards (like Ford).

        But no one would want to spend the kind of money that it would take to turn BoxerFanatic into FusionFanatic.

      • 6 Years Ago
      That pompous ass !! He is just as guilty as the Crain organization in lauding Detroit all these years instead of critisizing their disastrous ways ! The Detroit auto press is just as guilty as the rest in bringing things to where they are.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Or Detroit could build better cars...
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