ICG Auto

RMKA Auto tailors solutions for the vehicle industry

Automotive Public Relations by RMKA

The pace of day-to-day business in a dynamic sector such as automotive shows every sign of continuing to increase.

Add to this the tough and competitive nature of the Australian market and it is easy to see why many companies in the automotive sector carry limited specialist resources.

RMKA has identified a need for highly experienced key support services, both strategic and operational, to assist companies operating at all levels of the automotive industry.

The result is the creation of a suite of services that harnesses RMKA’s indepth history and extensive knowledge in automotive communication, and focuses these skills with the benefit of an equally comprehensive experience-base in the automotive business.

RMKA has identified key areas of support where the consultancy can add value by addressing specific communication, marketing and research needs.

RMKA Auto has been created to make it easier for executives in the automotive industry to match their needs to the skills and services that RMKA can bring in helping to meet business objectives.

New survey shows Australian motor shows are dead. Budget to digital or events

By John Kananghinis

In the wake of recent decisions by organisers to cancel both the 2013 Australian Motor Show in Melbourne and the planned 2014 Show in Sydney, ICG surveyed marketing leaders in the automotive industry on marketing trends.

The results deliver bleak news for organisers of any future traditional motorshows in Australia, indicating a definite shift to customer experience events and greater digital and social media engagement.

It does not appear there will be any bonus for traditional advertising as a result of the death of local motorshows.  The bulk of that money looks to be headed online.

The group participating in the survey represented over 70% of the passenger car and SUV market by volume.  Of those, 80% of respondents do not believe that traditional motorshows are still a valuable and viable marketing tool in Australia.

Unsurpirsingly, only 20% of the brands indicated they would be ‘most likely’ to participate in any future motorshows, should they be resurrected.

By contrast, 70% said it was most likely that they would look at staging some type of customer experience event of their own, with the only caveat being that most believed that their dealers could be more involved in such brand specific events.

On the other hand, all believed that social media would play a strong role in future marketing. A high 80% expected their digital/online media spend to grow in the near future. With overall automotive marketing budgets under ongoing pressure, this is likely to be of significant concern to the purveyors of traditional media advertising.

With our industry experience we knew there was a change of views. Now the survey results are confirmation that for a market of our size, the traditional motorshow is a thing of the past. The dollars required to be present just can’t be justified when there are many more direct ways to get product in front of customers, both in person and online.

The growing importance of a strong digital presence and the opportunities offered by social media are obviously capturing auto marketers’ attention.  There is still a desire to get  ‘bums on seats’, but brand or sector specific customer experience events are seen to be more focussed and cost effective options than traditional ‘big barn’ shows. The survey results suggest that the intersection between such events and the digital space may be the new fertile auto marketing ground.

Other key insights to emerge from the survey include the view that sports and arts sponsorships were seen as having almost equal importance, yet there is a 30% gap in the number of companies with active arts sponsorships versus sports sponsorships. This may point to an opportunity for well-structured arts sponsorships to get some attention. Conversely, it could also be bad news for sports sponsorships with poor ROI.

The full survey also covers customer loyalty issues, including perceptions of CRM performance at dealer level, integration of maturing finance contract follow-ups ,and the effectiveness of mystery shopping programs.

The results of the survey (in which the responses were non-attributable) can be obtained on request by clicking here

ICG has developed a suite of support offerings in strategic counsel, research, digital strategy, experiential event and target audience activities that can help brands navigate the changing marketing landscape. The consultancy draws on three decades of experience in the automotive industry.

For information regarding our suite of offerings contact us to discuss the tools available to your organisation.


Social media heading up

Maximising launch events – a change in thinking required

For PR managers aiming for maximum launch event activity impact, a change in thinking is now required.

Previously, print coverage delivered big time for all layers of the company hierarchy. Online media has changed that forever.

A full-page story reporting on launch activity in a tabloid newspaper used to please the CEO, who coveted the brand exposure, and possibly a quote or two under his name.

The Marketing Director quite liked the (‘free’) exposure for the new jigger, complementing the brilliant new ad campaign messaging, while the PR manager quietly ticked off another of the KPIs, and waited excitedly for the monthly share-of-voice figures to quantify his or her genius.

Meanwhile, at street level, the retailer of the new device gazed lovingly at the coverage, eagerly anticipating the impending stampede of floor traffic through the sliding glass doors in the wake of the coverage, perhaps even enhanced by the urgings of an artfully-placed local advertising campaign, thought up in-house.

But the new paradigm is a lot more complex.

Print is scaling back. We are well past the beginning of the end of newsprint as a daily information staple. The rise of the tablet is the bitter pill on which print is slowly choking.

We are moving towards the ultimate end of the primacy of print. Editorial departments are shrinking fast. Increased ‘content sharing’ and cost-reduction is the new game.

The disease is not restricted to newspapers. Magazines too are showing stress cracks.

The winners are web site proprietors, who not only offer instantaneous information, but can display their previously crafted critiques indefinitely.

The downside of this is that a hastily-penned new product review in all its un-subbed glory can damn or delight forever, putting even more pressure on the launch event to be right first time and show off the product perfectly. Today’s hasty thought bubble is no longer tomorrow’s fish wrapping.

The aphorism ‘You never get a second change to make a first impression’ has never been truer.

But for the street level retailer, with less local newsprint exposure, greater reliance on the amorphous internet means a loosening of the community relationship between the retailer and the local customer base.

The marketing and PR campaign now takes on a national, borderless, one-size-fits-all approach.

For the PR professional, the task is to engage more thoroughly with the purveyors of on-line content; to win them over and treat them like the coming kings they will be.


Alexander Corne

Launch control

“Houston, we have lift-off” – launch events with precision

NASA provides a great example of a precision launch event. Every time a Saturn V Rocket successfully launched an Apollo spacecraft past our earthly bounds it was worth a celebration. Its success, however, was attributable to the even greater deal of work, effort and resources that went into planning that amazing feat.

A successful launch is much more than a party to introduce a new product or service.

A successful launch needs careful thought given to exactly how best to introduce the product or service to media, opinion leaders, dealers, clients and staff.

The automotive and personal technology industries are amongst the most intensive launchers of new products. The constant flow of new models and technologies not only introduces consumers to new and improved goods, it also keeps the commercial wheel of regular customer update turning.

Auto and technology makers walk a well-trodden path of building anticipation and desire to convince consumers they must have the latest release of car, phone or device.

Leaks, design studies, “spy shots”, sneak peeks, non-official testing pictures, analyst and industry writer briefings and launches are all part of the product and service introduction tool kit.

Companies such as Apple are masters at building the ‘fervour for the new’.  The eventual clamour for first purchase is managed to create a religious experience for true enthusiasts.

Stage-managing the entire process may be out of the scope of local subsidiaries. However, making sure the key local audiences are exposed to the right message and the optimum first product experience is a vital part of the process.

The sugar-hit image of celebrities with your product splashed in the gossip columns will soon fade. The true sweet spot is launching an ongoing appreciation of your offering that creates the target audience’s genuine desire for ownership and brand buy-in.

Want to learn more? Visit RMKA Launch Control


John Kananghinis