DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Three European automakers are introducing smaller luxury crossovers and SUVs this quarter, which is poised to be one of the most difficult periods for the U.S. industry in more than 40 years.
"It will be interesting to see who prevails in the slugfest," said John Maloney, VP-marketing and product planning, Volvo Cars North America. Volvo says small premium sport utilities are the world's fastest-growing industry segment, and within the next few years, buyers will have at least 10 crossover models to choose from.
Volvo will be the last to market in the segment, butting heads with Mercedes-Benz USA and Audi of America. The newest-generation Lexus RX will launch this week, and although auto experts place that bigger model in a different competitive category, its pricing and size mean Toyota's luxury marque could well be on the same shopping lists as the trio of new Europeans.
|AD LAUNCH||Was first out of the gate, with national broadcast and cable TV airing since mid- January. The model was prelaunched via branded integration in "Sex and the City" and promotions at enthusiast events.|
|CREATIVE AGENCY||Omnicom Group's Merkley & Partners, New York|
|AD THEME||"Small is smarter."|
|DIFFERENTIATION||All the safety and technology in a smaller, affordable package|
|AUDI OF AMERICA|
|AD LAUNCH||A pair of 30-second spots will break Feb. 22 during ABC's Academy Awards broadcast. TV will get the biggest slice of launch dollars.|
|CREATIVE AGENCY||Independent Venables Bell & Partners, San Francisco|
|AD THEME||"A distinctive vehicle in a sea of sameness."|
|DIFFERENTIATION||Aggressive styling; three-zone climate control; alleged bestin- class EPA-certified fuel economy|
OF NORTH AMERICA
|AD LAUNCH||Will break in second half of March with three 30-second TV spots. Prelaunched in early December with X60 blog that links to an XC60 YouTube channel, search-term buys, and a six-month experiential tour.|
|CREATIVE AGENCY||Havas' Arnold Worldwide, Boston, and Nitro, London|
|AD THEME||"Finally a car that stops itself."|
|DIFFERENTIATION||Standard City Safety system that automatically brakes if it senses it is about to hit a car ahead|
TOYOTA MOTOR SALES USA
|MODEL||Redone 2010 RX 350|
|AD LAUNCH||National TV breaks today, bolstered by regional-dealer ad groups airing the same spots. Extensive online push includes homepage takeovers Feb. 18. Prelaunch events have been held in key cities since January.|
|CREATIVE AGENCY||Publicis Groupe's Team One, El Segundo, Calif.|
|AD THEME||"Reinventing the vehicle that invented it all."|
|DIFFERENTIATION||Latest-generation casual-voicerecognition system|