Big Auto Doubling Down on Big Data


Ford’s new CEO eyes software, tech stack as differentiator vs. rivals

New Ford CEO Jim Farley’s plan for the automaker includes a heavy dose of software and services for its commercial vehicle business as well as new consumer experiences to drive loyalty.

Why It’s Hot // The convergence always-on connection and data commercialization brings a world of new opportunities to marketers and brands seeking to redefine their businesses – while also adding fuel the the fiery debate about the trade-offs between privacy and personalized experiences.

Tech and the future of transportation: From here to there

Ford, which is in the middle of a turnaround of its core business, is trying to navigate a shift to electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles as well as an industry that is increasingly more about software. Farley takes over for Jim Hackett, who streamlined the automaker over the last three years.

Farley outlined a series of leadership changes and a plan that includes “expanding its commercial vehicle business with a suite of software services that drive loyalty and recurring revenue streams” and “unleashing technology and software in ways that set Ford apart from competitors.”

In addition, Ford is looking to develop connected vehicles and create new businesses from the Argo AI self-driving system.

Ford is also looking for a new CIO as Jeff Lemmer is retiring Jan. 1. His successor will lead Ford’s technology and software platform.

The tech strategy from Farley lands after a Sept. 16 investor presentation by Kenneth Washington CTO. Washington outlined the connectivity required from smart vehicles in the future that will include 5G, satellites and edge, cloud, and fog computing.


Washington added that Ford has hired more than 3,000 advanced computing experts to work on the tech stack and surrounding technologies including things like smart cities, mobility services, edge computing, and analytics.


He said:

If you were to tear down a future Ford, say, 10 years from now, the biggest difference you’d see is that the software, compute and sensing services are being serviced by a central compute module. And that’s really important because that’s more like we’re accustomed to seeing with the smartphones and the smart devices that we surround ourselves in our homes with every day. So this design that you would see would enable us to really leverage the power of high bandwidth connectivity that happens around the vehicle.

In the future, vehicle changes will be handled with updates via software and algorithms instead of hardware, said Washington. These updates would start with software, but design of electrical architecture as well as shared memory and power systems for various zones of the vehicle would be critical.

Other key points about Ford’s tech stack include:

  • Ford uses QNX, Autosar and Linux to develop is operating system and tech stack.
  • The automaker builds on top of that OS with middleware from its internal software team.
  • In 2020, Ford began equipping most of its redesigned vehicles with the ability for advanced over-the-air updates.
  • The data from those updates on vehicles like the F-150 and Bronco will help Ford iterate.
  • There are 5 million Ford connected vehicles in the field today.
  • Ford sees opportunities in services to optimizes Ford fleets for small business owners.

Relaunching the Ford Bronco after 25 years

After 25 years the Ford Bronco is back for 2021. The model was discontinued in 1996 after the market shifted, to make room for a new breed of over-sized family SUVs that allowed suburbanites to feel like they weren’t over the hill. No, it was not discontinued because of OJ, but it’s a common assumption.

They had a lot to cover to make this relaunch a success.

  1. Connecting the new model to its storied history as “America’s first SUV” and educating the audience about that history? Check.
  2. Authentically tapping into the spirit of adventure and escapism that defines the category? Check.
  3. Triggering the public’s wanderlust after being cooped up for months by Covid? Check
  4. Embodying the power and rugged emotionality of wild horses and the Great American West? Check.
  5. Shrugging off Ford’s weak “Ford-Focus” image. Check.

The copywriters had a field day in the ads, with gems like:

  1. Literally calling the vehicle a “horse”.
  2. “You need something that can look adventure in the eye, and give it a firm handshake.”
  3. You need something that’s not happy until it takes you through whatever creek or snow or mud or mountain trail or dune or logging road or landmark with death in its name. You need a Bronco.”
  4. “Built as wild as what you’re looking for.”

To Dos:

Launch it like it’s the blockbuster event of the summer

OPENING LINE: “There’s still some wild out there…”

Explain why it’s the antidote to the disappointment of the American mythology’s unfulfilled promise of a life of adventure

OPENING LINE: “This country has a strange relationship with the wild. As much as we talk about it, and paint paintings of it, and sing songs about how we’re destined to be it, we seem to spend every waking hour in places that keep us away from it… so to get back to the wild, we need something built for it.”

Tap into our primal instincts of auditory association

Show audiences the R&D

Show off your history / remind people you’re a legend

Use the old to sell the new






Make it a lifestyle

Get the nerds to geek out on features


Ford Press Release:

“Academy Award-winning director and acclaimed cinematographer, photographer and professional climber, Jimmy Chin, collaborated with Disney CreativeWorks, Disney’s award-winning creative agency, to co-create network reveal stories with the Ford team.”

From Tech Crunch:

The launch of the Bronco looks to be a masterclass in nostalgia. For the last few weeks, Ford has been feeding journalists with media assets — pictures, staged interviews and upcoming advertisements. I’ve yet to see the full vehicle because in the end, Ford is not relying on the Bronco itself to drive sales, but rather, is digging deep into the power of nostalgia to move the Bronco off lots.

Recalling the past can help companies develop a unified theme around a product or service. In this case with the Bronco, only recalling part of the past helps companies dial in messaging. With Ford, the company wants consumers in agreement: This is a tough vehicle and it’s always been a tough vehicle. Forget about OJ, these adverts say. Instead, look at how the Bronco was used by two burly men bounding over the rolling hills of a cattle ranch. Ford is digging deep into American lore to show the Bronco as a rugged conqueror of the frontier instead of a conqueror of parking lot flowerbeds.

Why it’s hot:

They treated the relaunch like a summer blockbuster, teasing it for weeks.

They let viewers in on the R & D process and let the car nerds talk it up.

They connected to powerful auditory sensations in ads.

They showed us all the places we wish we could go, tapping into our pent-up covid wander lust.

They re-worked their famous tagline just for this: From Built Ford Tough to BUILT WILD

The Ford logo is nowhere to be found, even on the vehicle itself. This is all about the BRONCO franchise.

They built an affinity community around it with tons of features to make it a lifestyle.

Source: Twitter, Ford, Tech Crunch


Stories by the route

Volkswagen Highway Fairytales

Volkswagen Highway Fairytales
Volkswagen Highway Fairytales
Volkswagen Highway Fairytales

To make children’s car journeys more entertaining, Volkswagen has created a location-based app that tells personalised stories based on what kids can see out of the back window.

The Snelweg Sprookjes (Road Tales) app detects ordinary objects such as tunnels, windmills, pass overs, gas stations, and electricity poles and transforms them in real-time into story elements. For example, a tunnel turns into a rocket launcher.

Why its hot?
Other than stories that adapt to your surroundings in real time, Road Tales gives children a reason to put their tablets way and look outside the window instead.

Free Power From Freeways? China Is Testing Roads Paved With Solar Panels

The experiment is the latest sign of China’s desire to innovate in, and dominate, the increasingly lucrative and strategically important market for renewable energy. The country already produces three-quarters of the solar panels sold globally, and its wind-turbine manufacturing industry is also among the world’s largest.

The potential appeal of solar roads — modified solar panels that are installed in place of asphalt — is clear. Generating electricity from highways and streets, rather than in fields and deserts packed with solar panels, could conserve a lot of land. Those advantages are particularly important in a place like China, a heavily populated country where demand for energy has risen rapidly.

Because roads run through and around cities, the electricity could be used practically next door to where it is generated. That means virtually no power would be lost in transmission, as can happen with projects in outlying locations. And the land is essentially free, because roads are needed anyway. Roads must be resurfaced every few years at great cost, so the installation of durable solar panels could reduce the price of maintenance.

Solar roads could also change the driving experience. Electric heating strips can melt snow that falls on them. Light-emitting diodes embedded in the surface can provide illuminated signage to direct drivers to exits and alert them to construction and other traffic hazards.

GM brings Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks Ordering to Cars

General Motors is launching a new in-vehicle app named Marketplace that will allow drivers to pay for goods such as gasoline or coffee and schedule service through their infotainment systems.

The automaker expects the free technology, which it is calling an industry first, to quickly expand from about a dozen offerings, such as ordering Dunkin’ Donuts or reserving a table at TGI Fridays, to other services such as Starbucks orders and dealership services, including oil changes.

“We are using it also to improve how our customers interact with the vehicle and the dealership network,” says Santiago Chamorro, GM vice president of global connected customer experience. He emphasized the connections are secure, and Marketplace is not meant to be an in-vehicle digital billboard.

In-vehicle marketplaces and app-based services have been discussed for years. Offerings such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto mirror smartphone apps onto the vehicle’s infotainment screens but do not complete financial transactions.

Some services such as ordering Dunkin’ Donuts for pick up require drivers to have an account or profile with the store. Marketplace uses recent and favorite foods and settings from the profiles to customize the offerings for the driver. Deals and membership rewards are currently available from gas stations. Paying for gasoline is expected to be available early next year.

Dealership services such as scheduling oil changes or other maintenance are expected to be added as early as next year. Vehicles will have the capability to alert drivers of needed services and schedule them, if the driver would like.

Other current partners with Marketplace include Wingstop, Shell, ExxonMobil,, Parkopedia, Applebee’s, IHOP and Starbucks is expected to be added in early 2018.

According to Consumer Reports, though, “The bad news is that in its current state, there’s not much reward for drivers to actually use it—though the automaker promises that will change soon as it adds more options and retail partners….Ultimately, instead of opening up an e-commerce gateway, GM Marketplace acts more like a middleman with limited options, at least in its current state.”

Source: AdAge

Why It’s Hot:
Automotive innovation is not only about self-driving technology, but about retail and the new consumer expectations brands need to meet. The opportunity for e-commerce to be at your fingertips even while driving may open up more geo-fenced, trackable marketing opportunities.

Tesla 3: Look ma – no dashboard!

The Tesla Model 3 has been billed as a groundbreaking car. And in one respect, it is: It doesn’t have an instrument cluster.


Although it is unusual to have the most important displays and controls on the left side of the screen instead of the center or right, keep in mind the screen’s location in the center of the car, to the driver’s right. A large speedometer is located at the top left of the screen, which turns red if you are speeding. Below that is a graphic of the car. When parked you can open the hood, trunk, and charging door. The navigation and music selection screens work much the same way you would expect in any other infotainment system, tablet, or smartphone.

One fan has put together a prototype that those in the know say is pretty true-to-form.

Voice controls are basic for now – e.g. “navigate to…” – but are rumored to be a big part of the next software upgrade.

Business Insider: The Tesla Model 3’s interior is a study in automotive minimalism

Why It’s Hot
It’s one of the more significant updates to car dashboard U.I. in a long time – it will be interesting to hear the usability feedback now that the cars are being delivered. It also marks a more aggressive step towards autonomous cars.

Start brushing off your resume…

The Mirai is Toyota’s car of the future. It runs on hydrogen fuel cells, gets 312 miles on a full tank and only emits water vapor. So, to target tech and science enthusiasts, the brand is running thousands of ads with messaging crafted based on their interests.

The catch? The campaign was written by IBM’s supercomputer, Watson. After spending two to three months training the AI to piece together coherent sentences and phrases, Saatchi LA began rolling out a campaign last week on Facebook called “Thousands of Ways to Say Yes” that pitches the car through short video clips.

Saatchi LA wrote 50 scripts based on location, behavioral insights and occupation data that explained the car’s features to set up a structure for the campaign. The scripts were then used to train Watson so it could whip up thousands of pieces of copy that sounded like they were written by humans.

Why It’s Hot
May let us focus more on the design; less on the production.

When programmatic goes wrong

Jaguar Land Rover has ceased all digital advertising in the UK after an investigation revealed it was funding terror organizations without its knowledge.


According to reports the car marque’s programmatic ads were among a number of brands indirectly paying Islamic extremists, white supremacists and pornographers.

Ads for the Jaguar F-Pace have appeared on YouTube next to a pro-Isis video that has been viewed more than 115,000 times. It has since been removed.

In a statement Jaguar said: “Jaguar Land Rover is very concerned by reports that advertising featuring our brands may benefit extremist and other inappropriate on-line media. This is an unintended consequence of algorithm technology used on some video-sharing websites.

Why It’s Hot
-It reminds us that algorithms and quant data are not everything. Our ability to monitor, evaluate and draw learnings is key
-It also is a reminder of our responsibility, liability and yes sometimes vulnerability in engagements with our clients. I can imagine the phone calls Jaguar’s UK agency received. We need to be able to justify our decisions but also deal with our mistakes when they happen (and they will happen. and we will have each other’s backs!)

The Quantified Car


Automatic is a combination adapter and app that interfaces with your car’s on-board computer. The adapter gathers data on fuel efficiency, miles driven, and bad driving habits (jackrabbit accelerations and hard braking). The app can then give drivers insights into their driver profile, their car’s mechanical condition, tell you where you parked, and in an accident, can even notify loved ones and signal for help.  Ever wonder what that check engine light really means? Automatic can tell you the exact error code, what is usually the causing the problem, and connect you to local mechanics.

As a consequence of gathering all this data, Automatic is able to issue yearly “Your Driving Year in Review” reports. Here’s mine. I commute far too much, drive too fast to optimize fuel efficiency, and sadly, when you add up all my driving time, I spend more than two weeks a year behind the wheel.

Why it’s hot:
Newer cars are starting to include these tracking features standard, but for the majority of older vehicles on the road, tools like Automatic can provide actionable data right now. And since driving is one of the most dangerous (and unhealthy) activities we can do in our lives, any data that can optimize the experience will help us make better decisions. Look for car brands (other automotive related brands) to embrace this data, creating better experiences and deeper integrations.


UK Tests Highway Lanes That Charge Electric Cars


With electric vehicles rising in popularity amongst the Brits, the UK is testing electric recharging lanes for highways.

The U.K. plans to add plug-in chargers every 20 miles along highways, so drivers don’t have to worry about getting stranded on a road trip. And the country does already have thousands of chargers in place. But now they’re testing out something new to make driving an EV even easier: Electric highways that can wirelessly charge cars as they drive.

If the tests go well, the new highways would add to the existing network of plug-in chargers, and make it even simpler to fuel up a Tesla than a standard gas-guzzling car. “This has the benefit of saving time and improving the distance that electric vehicles can travel,” says Nic Brunetti, a spokesman for Highways England. “The combination of both types of charging technologies could help to create a comprehensive ecosystem for electric vehicles.”

In a feasibility study, the government found that people would be more likely to drive electric cars if the wired roads were in place, especially if the charging networks spread off highways onto regular roads. And it’s also a way of responding to a shift that’s already happening.

“An important part of managing the road network over the next thirty years will be preparing the infrastructure for a shift to new types of vehicles and technology,” Brunetti says. “We need to plan intelligently for the future. Innovative technologies offer opportunities to make the best use of road capacity and to improve the road user experience.”

The system would use electric cables installed under roads to generate electromagnetic fields and send power to a gadget under a car. While it could potentially run on renewable energy (and maybe even be combined with something like a Solar Roadway), the government is still working out the details.

And England wouldn’t be the first; A section of electric highway already exists in Gumi, South Korea.

Source: Fast Company

Why It’s Hot

As connected and electric cars become more popular, we will see interesting infrastructure advancements to go along with it. This is a good example of how that side of things cannot be ignored — and it a pretty hopeful step towards more mainstream electric car usage.

E-Commerce in Dashboards Offers Convenience But Privacy Risks

Most cars sold today lack the technology for drivers to pay for items they purchase (unless they use a smartphone). But by 2022, 82.5 million autos worldwide will be connected to the internet, more than triple the number now, according to researcher IHS Automotive. In the next two to five years, “buy buttons” connected to smartphone mobile wallets will start appearing on dashboards, according to Richard Crone, who runs payment adviser Crone Consulting. That means motorists will soon be able to buy a pizza, fill up the tank or preorder a half caf skinny macchiato from Starbucks without pulling out their phone.


Banks and credit card companies are looking to pile in. Visa has developed an app for the dashboard or smartphone that enables the car to automatically purchase gasoline, parking and fast food.

But automakers this summer have proven easy targets for hackers as we mentioned in previous Hot Sauce posts here and here.

Why It’s Hot

This new technology will create more opportunities for brands to connect with their customers at the right moment (e.g. alter drivers of deals at Dunkin Donuts when they are driving near a location) while also providing overall convenience to consumers. Unfortunately there are also concerns that this will also create opportunities for hackers to steal credit card numbers, and other personal information that could lead to identify theft.


Hackers Remotely Shut Down a Jeep at 70 MPH

There are connected cars and then there are cars that can be ‘disconnected,’ at least from the driver.

In a somewhat on-the-edge experiment published this week, two well-known hackers tapped into a moving Jeep and remotely operated the radio, air conditioning and windshield wipers.

Then, while the car was moving at 70 miles an hour, the car’s acceleration was remotely shut down, leaving the volunteer driver & writer from Wired slowing on a busy highway.

Aerial view of a freeway interchange, LA

Aerial view of a freeway interchange, LA

The two hackers, Charlie Miller and Chris Vasalek, have been conducting car-hacking research to determine if an attacker could gain wireless control to vehicles via the internet.

They created software code that could send commands through the Jeep’s entertainment system to its dashboard functions, brakes, steering and transmission from a laptop many miles away, according to the first-person account in Wired.

Why Its Hot:

The timing of the widely reported Jeep experiment is interesting in light of a new privacy bill in congress that would stop car makers from using data collected from vehicles for advertising or marketing. More about the bill can be found here.

Drivers shouldn’t have to choose between being connected and being protected. Controlled demonstrations show how frightening it would be to have a hacker take over controls of a car. We need clear rules of the road that protect cars from hackers and American families from data trackers. When consumers feel safe with technology it flourishes but when the opposite is true it can become an epic failure.

But the Jeep episode shows that sending unwanted ads to drivers on the move may be the least of the issues. The silver lining in all of this is that the vulnerabilities in the coming interconnected world of things are being identified and highlighted.

As you might imagine, Fiat Chrysler has issued a software fix that Jeep owners can either download and install or ask a dealer to install it.  There will be more bumps in the road that get identified. Then they can be addressed.

Read the full story here

Hackers Show Vulnerability of “Connected Cars”

When we think of hacks, we often think email, banks, phones. But many people don’t think of things like cars as a hackable devices, too. So researchers in St. Louis set out to demonstrate that the automakers need to be far more active in the security of the internet-connected vehicles.

The subject was Fiat Chrysler’s line of Uconnect vehicles. Using a Jeep Cherokee, the researchers demonstrated that using the vehicle’s Sprint network data connection, they could successfully attack a driver’s vehicle to remotely by pure anonymized hack. Some 470,000+ vehicles on the roads offer this connectivity, making vulnerability to hack no small risk.

So what could the hackers exploit? Quite a lot. While the driver was cruising at highway speed, they were able to alter wipers, display personalized messages on the dashboard, even disable the transmission to prevent acceleration. Traffic piled up behind the driver, as the subject was left helpless.


But the hackers are doers of good. They sought to share these exploits with the hacker community, so that those with malicious intent do not find them first. What’s shocking is the automotive industries apparent attempt to minimize these studies. In a longer expose of the study, Wired highlights that automakers are more interested in out-competing for features over addressing real consumer safety concerns with this untested new drivable devices.

Why It’s Hot

As we are always looking for what is new, shiny and internet-driven, cases like this demonstrate why consumers need to remain vigilant in the connected age. In this case, it took hacker advocacy to open our eyes to corporate sluggishness and blindness to the dangers that new products can pose.

Via Ars Technica

Volvo Designs a Luxury Rear-Facing Child Seat



Volvo‘s design team has re-imagined child safety in vehicles and come up with the Excellence Child Seat Concept, which offers a number of new functions. They have thought about how the space left by removing a front passenger seat could be utilized, adding in a child seat that swivels counter-clockwise when the child is being strapped in and then locks in a rear-facing position.

Storage for small items is located beside the seat, with an area underneath for diapers, blankets and other larger items, and enough space for a tote bag at the front of the seat under the dashboard. For extra comfort and convenience, the Excellence Child Seat Concept offers a function to let small children safely lean back and sleep, while the heated cup holders in the XC90 Excellence help keep a bottle warm.


Volvo’s clear safety position is that small children should travel rearward facing as long as possible (at least up to the age of three), due to the lack of muscular strength in the necks of small children and the disproportionate head size and weight in relation to the body. Also, being able to maintain eye contact with their child from the rear seat could help make things easier for parents during a car journey.

This concept aims to add a luxury touch to Volvo’s portfolio while redefining the way a car’s interior can be used to suit customers’ needs.

Tisha Johnson, Chief Designer of Interiors at Volvo Cars Concept and Monitoring Centre, said:

We started by asking ourselves if we could make life easier for parents and safer for their children when it comes to the child seat experience.

We focused on three key benefits: making it easier to get the child into and out of the child seat from an ergonomic and comfort perspective, providing the child with a safe rearward facing seating position that enables it to keep eye contact with either the driver or the rear passenger and of course including enough storage for those vital child accessories, such as diapers, bottles, wipes, and so on.


Why It’s Hot

This is a good example of a brand picking something to stand for and going with it. It’s also more than the car seat function — it’s the style and the extras in terms of storage and convenience that they’ve included as well.

You have to wonder if it’s a good long-term purchase, though. If you keep a car for 10 years on average, but your child needs a car seat for only 3, is it a good investment? Maybe lease this one? Or have a few babies 3 years apart?

Google-Waze Tests Car-pooling service

Many drivers, including yours truly, depend on Waze to get to where they are going without unexpected delays. The Israeli company uses crowdsourced information from drivers to steer other drivers away from traffic, accidents, etc. Waze was purchased by Google in 2013 to help beef up the capabilities of the Google Maps platform that include turn-by-turn directions.

This week, Waze began testing its new RideWith ride-sharing app and service in Tel Aviv. The pilot program matches commuters who have similar rush-hour commutes so they can share rides and split the financial burden of traveling to and from work. If the pilot is successful, the service may launch in cities with a heavy suburban commuter population. These suburban commuters, who need a more regular car-sharing schedule, may find RideWith to be a useful alternative to Uber or Lyft that cater more to city residents that need a quick ride somewhere.

The app also calculates how much passengers should pay — a “pitch-in” cost based on gas and mileage and a “nominal” fee for using the app. Drivers are not paid for their services, per se.

RideWith service operated by Waze

RideWith service operated by Waze

Why It’s Hot

Waze has been hot for a while. So are Google Maps. For anyone who has used either of these apps (and they are integrated), they recognize how amazingly accurate they are. The Waze platform is inherently based on crowdsourcing, so it is a logical extension to include crowdsourcing to share available ride sharing to/from work. If the service does succeed and move out of pilot phase to a larger endeavor, it will provide provide another alternative to users who may be using Lyft or Uber.

Toyota Japan Tells the Same Story Twice in This Really Lovely Father’s Day Ad

To celebrate Father’s Day, Toyota Japan released a heartwarming ad that tells the story of a dad and daughter growing up together — from both of their perspectives.

Titled “Loving Eyes,” the video begins with a montage from the father’s point of view, as he puts a “Baby in car” sticker on his car, takes his daughter to elementary school, drives her around during her moody teen years, goes to her wedding and finally, puts that same sticker on her family car as a new mom.

The video then flips the perspective to show what his daughter sees during these same events.

“This is a story dedicated to parents and children in the world on Father’s Day,” the YouTube caption reads.

It’s an emotional ride.


What it’s hot:

It’s an interesting creative spin in a typical and expected messaging around father’s day and celebrating father’s.  Great example of a executional spin on common messaging.


Are Connected Cars a Timely Novelty or Really the Future of Auto?

It seems that every week we are discussing new technology in the automotive industry – ranging from better GPS systems and windshield displays to driverless cars. But it’s yet to be seen if all this effort put into improving the convenience of virtually everything while driving is a timely novelty or actually the way transportation will be in the future.

Statista recently released statistics on connected cars, or cars embedded with Internet access. In 2013, there were already approximately 23 million connected vehicles around the world, with technology to help drivers with engine controls, automatic crash notifications and safety alerts, remote engine start and door locking, etc. It is estimated that by 2020, there will be 152 million connected vehicles.

Infographic: Connected Cars By The Numbers | Statista

Read more about connected vehicles on Statista.

Why It’s Hot | Of the uses for connected vehicles, Statista shows driver assistance and safety to be among the top currently and in the future. While this is better than having entertainment be the main focus (aka distraction), it does show that as a society we are moving further in the direction of physically doing less. Though Google’s driverless cars seemed like something out of Wall-E, they might not be as far into the future as we expect.

A Car That Can Drive Itself During Traffic Jams

Bosch just announced a new automated system that allows a car to drive itself during traffic jams. The company is adding the system to Jeep Cherokee models at the 2015 International CES to show how manufacturers can help drivers navigate through traffic jams. The company said the system will be made available later this year in a series of European cars, but the specifics about which manufacturers are on board have yet to be announced.

The concept is simple: When a driver manually turns on the system, it will know to follow the car in front and continue along with caution. Bosch said the technology is far safer than relying on the human brain to make quick judgement calls during jams.

The system uses predictive emergency braking, sensors, radar technology and cameras to serve as the eyes and ears of a car. It reacts faster than a human and adjusts accordingly if, for example, the car in front slams on its brakes.


Why It’s Hot

According to Bosch, 90% of traffic fatalities are due to human error and 72% of rear-end collisions that result in casualties could be avoided with a predictive braking system. While fully automated self-driving cars are still being tested, this is technology that can start making cars safer in the next few months.


BMW’s Snapchat-Inspired Campaign to Attract Young Drivers

Today’s ever sought out younger consumers are known for having seconds-long attention spans—but that’s fine for BMW, which only needs five seconds. The automaker is launching a social campaign and website dubbed Snowchat, which will let users share pictures that last only seconds, just like a Snapchat message.



The site features an image of a BMW windshield covered in snow, which users can wipe away to make designs with the swipe of a finger across a touchscreen or the click of a mouse. Then, the virtual artwork can be shared via Facebook, Twitter or e-mail. Once the image is shared, it disappears five seconds after it’s opened. BMW hopes that since the messages vanish quickly, people will send more than one to their friends, similar to how millennials use their favorite mobile messaging apps.

The site promotes the X4 SUV, which is aimed at a younger consumer than BMW’s average driver. BMW’s social push isn’t solely geared toward moving cars off lots, partly because millennials don’t have the money to buy luxury vehicles—yet. “We are trying to open our arms wider than just car enthusiasts and BMW fans,” Renner said. “We’re trying to invite people into the brand and let us be a part of their daily lives for the holidays.”


Why It’s Hot

Although not many Millennials can afford a BMW, the brand is taking the right approach by placing an emphasis on building a relationship with these consumers now. The younger audience appreciate a brand that “gets” them and with such a high value purchase and the audience’s propensity to research prior to buying, BMW is setting themselves up to be top of mind when that day comes for Millennials. Of course, Millennials are keen to stick with a brand that provides a high quality product, however, second to that is a brand that is transparent, authentic and understands the younger consumer’s mindset. 

Engie for Your Engine Troubles

For those of us who are not mechanically-minded, a sudden light on the dashboard can be a scary sight. What does it mean, and what do I do about it? How will I know if I’m getting ripped off at the repair shop?


An Israeli start-up called Engie is here to solve that problem. The company has created a device that attaches to an automobile’s on-board computer and uses Bluetooth to send information to a companion mobile app. The app analyzes the data and simplifies it for the user with graphics. And before they visit a shop to have the car fixed, Engie can compare prices from local garages to show where the user will get the best rate.

Via Globes.

Why It’s Hot: While Engie is an Israeli start-up and currently only available in Tel Aviv, Israel, the idea has great implications.  It sets itself apart from the typical time-saving app by combining two highly-sought after services: explaining the complex and helping users save money. Engie is every driver’s one-stop-shop.

Auto repair rip-offs are something a lot of people can likely relate to. On the larger scale, who knows what humankind will develop next? Maybe we’ll be self-diagnosing and performing self blood tests via mobile in a few years – or maybe some things are better left to the experts.

Make It Interesting. Make It Easy.



Why Its Hot:

In the age of digital with everything calling for interactive this and interactive that, we seldom come across actual digital campaigns that are in fact interactive. The majority of online advertising is just short films or extended commercials. They lack any role for the user, just for a viewer. As an industry I think we’ve reached a point that we can all agree that interactive advertising isn’t easy. The barriers are high to get people 1) interested 2) excited to spend time with your communication or “thing.” Honda has done a great job of overcoming these barriers with this fine piece if interactive work.The key to success is to make things that are interesting to people, but also provide an easy way to interact.

Meaningful Connections in Social Meida (Nissan)- via Media Week


In a day and age in the digital world where some brands are throwing ad dollars at the wall and hoping for something to stick, Nissan is being discerning.  They are actually engaging strategy in their social and digital media capabilities, a practice many agencies leave out of their scope of work and leave in the hands of digital teams, which leave social to only be the executor’s, and not strategists. Nicola Kemp of Media Week UK comments that “sport and social media are such obvious partners that it is all too easy to declare the future of sports sponsorship will be played out primarily within the realms of 140 characters.”  This is the type of social and digital strategy that is built in a planning period and not when only executing.  In regards to Nissan, they are focusing their digital media efforts on large sponsorship’s (similar to an old OOH campaign from the 90’s, but layered with deeper analysis and data from today’s digital transparency.), less venues, larger audiences with targeting and live touch points with memorable experiences for consumers OOH & digitally.

Why It’s Hot

Large auto clients, as well as many other publicly traded companies (such as our clients) are shifting their trend of spending media budgets within agencies towards live events with highly targeted audiences.  Years ago this was the same spend that was utilized at large scale and investment with substantial OOH sponsorship’s, however it lacked the targeting.

In the end, you only buy a car every 5-6 years (1-3 years for most single males 25-34 and 3-6 years for single females 25-34- Comscore March 2014*), so by the time you have reached the consumer they have already had ample time to make up their mind and cemented their own opinion.  To prevent being left out Nissan hopes to be part of the long term conversation and have meaningful social and digital campaigns with targeted live events.  “You need to be part of what people enjoy and you have to be meaningful.”  Nissan will attempt this with live events surrounding sports such as their World Cup campaign’s this past year that focused on their Hispanic audience (hyper targeted demo and geo and behavioral).

The Goal is: Less, bigger and live

Land Rover Goes Galactic to Push New SUV

Land Rover kicked off the launch of its new Discovery SUV with a contest that will send the winner into space. The campaign, dubbed “Galactic Discovery,” invites consumers to submit a 30-second video or still image that captures what they believe to be the spirit of adventure. In April at the New York Auto Show, Land Rover said it had partnered with Virgin Galactic for the promotion.

To promote both the launch of the 2015 Discovery Sport and the contest, Land Rover and Virgin Galactic released a video from The Brooklyn Brothers that includes British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes; entrepreneur and founder of Virgin Galactic Sir Richard Branson; British adventurer Bear Grylls; and ex-actress and wildlife campaigner Virginia McKenna. Each contributed a separate video promoting the campaign as well.
The contest spans 29 countries, with winners to be chosen in November from each country, and the grand prize winner to be selected from that group of semifinalists in December. That winner is invited to bring three friends into space.

Why It’s Hot

This is a great partnership between two brands that embody the spirit of adventure and exploration. By getting a chance to win a trip to space, this branded contest blows most out of the water and is surprisingly easy to enter. Through this campaign, both brands will be reaching their target audience while generating positive buzz/PR for their company.

We can expect more good things from these two brands since Land Rover and Virgin Galactic are currently exploring additional collaborations to develop more immersive experiences for customers and educational programs that will inspire young people to pursue a future in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.


Hyundai’s “Empty Car Convoy”

Hyundai’s “Empty Car Convoy” video release is finally beginning to gain traction on the Internet, after more than a month since it was first posted to the company’s YouTube channel.  Aided by PR efforts through blogs like PSFK, the company has helped push “Empty Car Convoy” to viral status, with over 8 million views to-date.

“Empy Car Convoy” depicts stunt driver Buddy Joe driving blindfolded to showcase a set of new safety features in its 2015 Genesis vehicle. The video does a great job of integrating the features within the window, while not taking away from the stunt’s action.

Why It’s Hot

2014 seems to have been the year of the viral marketing stunt video for automakers. Though it was first released in June, Hyundai’s “Empty Car Convoy” joins the ranks of other makers like BMW and Volvo in a broader trend of leveraging online video to shock and entertain audiences around clear brand objectives.

Viral videos are certainly good for reinforcing brand goals and showcasing products in a new light, but does the “slowness of infection” around “Empty Car Convoy” suggest that the category of stunt videos is becoming seen as “ordinary” among many consumers?  Or, does it just mean that to marketers may need to think supplementary promotional strategies involving PR and outreach to help their videos gain the views needed to go viral?

Das 3D Auto

The Germans Have Figured Out How to 3-D Print Cars

If German engineers have their way 3-D printing is going to reshape how cars are made. EDAG, a German engineering company, has created the “Genesis,” a vehicle frame made from a range of materials and inspired by a turtle’s skeleton. It was developed entirely through the 3-D printing process. EDAG’s robot printer built the Genesis using a thermoplastic model but says they could use carbon fiber to make the structure stronger and lighter.

EDAG showed off the Genesis design concept at the Geneva Motor Show to demonstrate that 3-D printing can make full-size car components.

Why It’s Hot

EDAG’s design is unique because it shows that 3-D printing can produce a structure at a massively large scale. Rather than printing out tiny parts and them assembling them together to create the whole, Genesis shows that future cars could be produced through fewer steps and pieces by printing and assembling large, exceptionally strong unibody parts.

Genesis is “the opening salvo in an arms race for creating large objects with a single process.”


Mercedes-Benz builds community by outsourcing CLA Instagram film

Mercedes-Benz UK is allowing consumers to direct and create a scene for a short film featuring the CLA-class. Using the hashtag #CLAStory, Instagram followers can upload scenes that correspond with three previously recorded clips found on Mercedes-Benz UK’s Instagram, Facebook and Web site.

Read more here.

Why It’s HOT

It’s interesting to see how luxury brands are increasingly testing new waters. Moving from the days of perfection to the approachable, user-led world of platforms such as Instagram.

Instagram campaigns are not new to luxury car brands.

For example, BMW of North America allowed fans to reserve one of 29 thirtieth anniversary BMW M5s to be sold in the United States exclusively through information revealed on Instagram (se story here).




California Ready For Driverless Cars

You need a license to drive a car. But does a robot?

For now, yes.

Come September, the California Department of Motor Vehicles will begin granting licenses to select driverless cars and their human co-pilots, which will make it a bit less legally iffy as to whether or not they’re actually allowed to be on a public road.

The good news: The license will only cost $150 a pop, and that covers 10 vehicles and up to 20 test drivers.

The bad (but probably actually good) news: You probably can’t get one, so don’t go trying to make your own Googlecar just yet.

The terms of the license are (as you might hope, in these early days) pretty strict.



Why It’s Hot

Technology is encompassing the simple things in life such as daily transportation. What can this type of technology and intelligence lead to? There has to be a way for experiencial marketing to take advantage of these new advancements its really cool ways. Brands like Amazon and Dominos are already playing with the drone technology, now what about this more familiar integration and how it can be used? There are far more cars in peoples lives than drones.

See the article here.

SemaConnect electric car charging stations get their own Google Glass app

SemaConnect, which makes electric vehicle charging stations, has launched an application on Google Glass to make it easier for drivers to navigate to the closest charging stations at a nearby Walgreens or Dunkin’ Donuts.

The app leverages augmented reality to make navigation faster and easier, with users able to locate the closest charging stations within a 20-mile radius. Users can also enable turn-by-turn navigation to station locations and initiate a charging session.

When a driver gets to the station, then the user says “Control my car” and the station begins charging the vehicle. If there is a fee applicable, it is automatically billed to the user’s credit card.

8e460896da4263aeec2deecb6ebe0090_f116 semaconnect-big-opt


Why It’s Hot

While the Google Glass is still in its early days, and people are just getting started in getting and using this device and figuring out its capabilities, electric vehicle owners are most likely early adopters anyways.

The big advantage to using the Google Glass is that the user need not take her hands off the wheel or her eyes off the road. And the app is also driven largely by voice commands.

Instagram Becomes Roadmap for Latest Mazda Campaign

Consumers and brands alike, most use Instagram to post individual photos that come together to provide a “photo-filtered scrapbook of daily life.” Recently, Mazda (Canada) used Instagram’s grid view to create a virtual road trip that lasted four months. Along with illustrated digital twists and turns on roadways, there were event promos, videos, and more featured within the brand’s Instagram posts.

The campaign increased Mazda Canada’s Instagram follower count by 300%, and created buzz by giving away a free car to a follower at the end of the campaign.

Read more at Fast Company.

Why It’s Hot | Though it is not a remarkable innovation or revolutionary application, Mazda Canada’s recent Instagram campaign is still thought-provoking because it uses social media in a new way to further interest and engagement. Facebook tabs enabled the building of in-page games and apps to engage users, while tumblr features complete customizability and a massive community for brands to utilize. Rather than sticking to the normal use of Instagram in posting flashy and stimulating photos, Mazda found a way to gamify the platform and drive up engagement by posting photos that, when brought together, told a story and took visitors on a virtual journey. Similar to how some say Vine’s videos are the new :30 commercial spot, this gamification and interaction could be a new way to use Instagram for marketing and further engage consumers.

Visit to the Auto Show Without Leaving Your Couch

Google Maps has changed the face of navigation, enabling anyone with an Internet connection to explore cities all over the world. Now, Google Maps has opened the doors to the New York International Auto Show.

Google crews walked through the auto show, photographing a choreographed path that visitors might take, complete with interior views of three car models: the Bugatti Veyron, the Koenigsegg Agera R, and the Bentley Flying Spur V8. In a super cool and shocking move, Google Maps has enabled users to not only view the auto show’s convention center from the outside; now users can enter the front door and “walk” through the convention center to view all the car inside.

Research shows that 57% of auto show attendees who went with a plan to see a specific vehicle were likely to later visit a dealer for a test drive. That being said, marketing managers of the auto show are hoping the new Google Maps preview will enable consumers to preview the cars and then form a plan of what to see. The hope is that with this tool to guide planning, consumers will thus be more likely to visit dealers to test drive the cars.

As captured by the NY Times, “Technology is increasingly becoming more and more of a driver in the auto-buying experience, so this is on brand for the auto show,” according to the President of Situation Interactive which executed the mapping of the show. “We feel like the tech savviness of the auto show itself needs to be on par with all the technologies in the cars.” (Read more here.)

Why It’s Hot | In addition to the utilization of high technology being such a great fit for the auto show that features the latest technology in automobiles, this Google Maps interior view is a remarkable new use of the mapping technology. Looking at how Google Maps literally changed the way people plan, navigate, search, and make decisions – about everything from where to eat lunch to where to live – it is obvious that enabling people to virtually walk inside places will change the way people shop, explore, make decision, and ultimately how we experience things day to day.