After a 2010 where it hyped its Cayenne SUV and Panamera sedan, Porsche is pushing its sports cars again, redeploying its marketing resources to convince customers that a high-end sporty vehicle is suitable for picking up the kids from school, hauling home supplies from a big box store and blasting through wintry driving conditions.
The automaker's "Engineered for Magic. Everyday" campaign, which consists of TV, online and print, kicked off in late March with a 60-second TV spot showing Porsche owners using their 911 and Cayman sports cars in daily driving scenarios.
The idea was to dispel the notion that sports cars can't be everyday vehicles and to try to overcome any potential reticence to buying and driving a high-end car as the country pulls out of recession.
Porsche had planned to return to emphasizing sports cars in its marketing, but global brand monitoring research conducted in 2009 and 2010 identified the issue of daily drivability as a key weakness against competitors. That led Porsche and its long-standing creative partner, Chicago-based Cramer-Krasselt, to a number of questions, said Scott Baker, manager of marketing communications for Porsche North America: "Do the cars have relevance to my daily life? Do they allow me to utilize the latest technology? Are people concerned what driving a new Porsche might say at this particular time?"
"As employees of Porsche in Atlanta, we're surrounded by people who drive these cars to work daily, on the weekends and in crappy weather," Mr. Baker says. "Those little scenarios really resonated with the people here."
But, he said, "the unfortunate truth is that there is only a core group of enthusiasts that understand [the cars can be driven for everyday use]. We felt our job was to amplify [that] and help those outside connect with that everyday relevance."
The TV ads feature a number of actual Porsche owners who use their cars for everyday activities. Turning that group into an amplifier for the message is part of the marketing vision and will be activated in part through the "Porsche Everyday" website (porscheeveryday.com), where Porsche sports car owners can tell their own tales of how they drive them. Media is being handled by Omnicom Media Group.
The manufacturer is riding a tide of rising sales, up 30% in 2010 and another 34% in the first quarter of 2011, compared to the year-earlier period, returning it to pre-recession sales levels. Porsche credits the improving economy but gives equal weight to the success of its new Panamera sedan and Cayenne SUV models.
"The Panamera has brought new people into our dealer showrooms who haven't considered Porsche before," said Mr. Baker. "The launch of the new Cayenne has also been a success. Right now, the biggest issue we have is getting cars into the country."
Marketing the Cayenne and Panamera consumed the bulk of Porsche North America's 2010 ad budget, Mr. Baker said. The German firm spent almost $25 million on U.S. advertising, according to Nielsen, up from $21.6 million in 2009.
"We don't have the deep pockets other automotive companies do," Mr. Baker said, despite Volkswagen's recent acquisition of Porsche. "I wouldn't say that launching Panamera and Cayenne was detrimental to the sports cars but resources were not focused on them."