Recipients who returned a survey were given

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Unformatted text preview: US households, many of which had a history of Mercedes ownership. The initial mailing, sent out when the company’s first US plant was under construction, described the program’s progress and included the Mercedes three-pointed-star emblem as a gift. Recipients who returned a survey were given additional information about the cars’ development. That campaign produced a self-selected list of 100,000 prospective customers and helped Mercedes sell out its first run of the M-class.2 A new brand of brand management The move to just-in-time marketing involves significant changes across the business system, from product development to marketing to retailing to after-sales service. Active brand management requires more than the consistent development of sound products, painstaking consumer research, and expensive advertising and promotion—activities that are already on every car company’s “to do” list. 2 Automotive News, October 13, 1997 p. 13M. , (134-143)Q1'02_AutoBrand_v8 1/7/02 10:55 AM Page 143 R E V V I N G UP AU TO BR A NDI N G To compete in the cluttered car market, companies must rely less on armies of marketing spets—people individually focusing on everything from data analysis to media buying—and more on integrators of products and the way they are marketed. As the general managers of the brand, these integrators should have broad authority, an understanding of the profit drivers, and access to direct-marketing resources (for example, more targeted advertising channels, such as customer kiosks or interactive TV) insofar as customers prove to be receptive. Historically, car companies have counted on strong leaders to provide a unifying vision. Think of Henry Ford, Honda founder Soichiro Honda, or, more recently, Bob Lutz, who championed Chrysler’s most successful products of the 1990s and is now GM’s vice chairman of product development. Each defined, for a time, the products that made his company’s brands strong. More recently, Ferdinand Piech at Volkswagen and Ford’s Wolfgang Reitzle have sought to play similar roles. To date, however, only Soichiro Honda can be said to have transformed his personal vision into a dynamic brand and an enduring company ethos. Henry Ford’s Model T didn’t change with the times and was ultimat...
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