Areas of Expertise, Commercial Vehicles, Stories

Cup holders are people too

“The brakes are new, and we need to include them. Our cup holders are deeper. The cabin is larger. The pedals are corrected. You know we got dinged about our pedals the last launch. We really need to talk about everything.”

For the most part, the above is a faux quote, but it is the general gist of most initial vehicle launch conversations with a manufacturer. It is hard for the engineers, managers and marketing directors to step back and see the big picture and talk about the audience. We continue to listen, nod and take careful notes. They are under a tremendous amount of pressure to bring their latest creation to market, and we certainly understand. As the hours pass the team talks about all the features they have painstakingly worked into their vehicle.

We promise every detail will be in the new communications. The dance we have to step through now is to help them feel comfortable that all their engineering will be discussed in the campaign. Once we start to get nods, the launch conversation can turn in a different direction. A direction that closes the loop in marketing their product.

For us, sometimes the next part of the conversation can be a bit tricky. Half the time the president or leader of the commercial vehicle company is an engineer and the other half they were in sales. Rarely does the president and final sign off have a marketing background.

Once we created a design charrette to explore a brand positioning for a product launch to a specific and targeted audience. MODERN was one board. ATHLETIC was another. LUXURY was the third. We used car and clothing branded ads, visuals, words, and phrases designed help set the tone for our focus groups. Knowing we were working with very analytical leaders, we took our time and explained the process.

“But we don’t make Landrovers, the lead engineer said. Why will we have a picture of a Landrover in our ads? Help me understand how this will sell more vehicles.” – True story.

After an eye roll and head shake from the president he told us he was anxious to hear the results from the focus group. We were lucky the president had a sales background and loved marketing and branding. We have found working closely over time with engineers and sales members help us build trust so we all can create better communication and sell more vehicles.

Let me know how you separate building vehicles, a very analytic process and marketing them, a very creative and personal exercise.

Photo Credit: ©2018 Crobar | Creative Leverage • Location: Callaway Resort & Gardens, Georgia • Purpose: Product shoot for a commercial vehicle manufacturer

Todd Kinley

J. Todd Kinley

Founder | Executive Creative Director: Crobar Creative Leverage. Husband, Father, and Moose owner. Lover of art, photography, golf, and strategy. Follow me: