Old Dogs, New Tricks
How would you like to build your own Corvette engine, at the plant? Or maybe you’d like to badge your Subaru the way a Girl Scout might adorn her uniform? Or maybe you’d like to play a version of the old classic “Slug Bug”? These are some of the latest tactics employed by some “old” automotive brands to win the attention of new customers.
Let’s start with what could be the ultimate badge of Corvette enthusiasm: Building your own engine. GM is offering customers who order a 2011 Corvette Z06 or ZR1 to choose an option that allows them to help assemble their car’s LS7 or LS9 engine at the General Motors Performance Build Center in Wixom, Michigan. The retail price is a whopping $5,800 — which is more than a fully assembled 385-horsepower GM Performance ZZ4 crate engine. But that gets you in to build the engine under the supervision of a skilled technician and you will also receive the usual warranty. The customer has to travel to the plant on their own nickel, of course.
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Corvette buyers can also attend driving school in Arizona or Nevada, watch their car being built at the Corvette assembly plant in Kentucky, and even take delivery of their new car at the National Corvette Museum. But these ideas are not at all revolutionary. When I was at Chrysler we had similar programs for Viper owners. I have to admit that I think there are plenty of Corvette fans, not to mention lots of wannabes, who are going to jump at this opportunity. Who wouldn’t love to be able to say that they built their engine and get a badge on the manifold to prove it. If Chevy can charge a little extra for this, as well, more power to it.
Speaking of badges, Subaru has introduced a novel idea with its Badge of Ownership. In a social network-like fashion where we join groups or “like” various ideas or products, Subaru has found a way to incorporate this personalization on your car without making it look like a Times Square billboard.
The badges are less vehicle-oriented and more about representing one of your personal interests, while also telling the world how many Subaru’s you’ve owned. You can badge your vehicle with one of many representative icons, from snowboarding to music, animals, the environment, or even to proclaim your sexual orientation (yes, a rainbow for the LGBT community). Subaru is even asking for suggestions for new badges. I wouldn’t doubt if this goes viral among Scooby fans, as the badges are catchy.
VW was hoping for a viral hit with its Punch-Dub game, a “reboot” of the original “Punch Buggy” game of the 70’s. It launched this campaign during this year’s Super Bowl, though we have not yet seen too many people punching the Online you could add this to your social networks, earn points, and win contests. While it is unclear whether this really took off, it was a clever way to try and extend the brand experience. The television commercials were fun, including the one for the VW minivan taking a tour through the neighborhood so the kids can watch the pedestrians sock each other.