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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