DETROIT -- Toyota and Lexus will remain active in auto shows around the U.S. but aim their displays and their spending more directly at consumers and less at the media, brand leaders told Automotive News on Thursday.
"We are making adjustments," said Bob Carter, head of sales for Toyota Motor North America. "Auto shows are still a critical part of the business, and they're critical from a consumer perspective. Most buyers — 35 percent of the people who are going to buy a car in the next 12 months — stop by an auto show. It's a very important place to communicate."
Carter said he was "shocked" by Mercedes-Benz's decision to skip the 2020 New York auto show, given the size of the market and its importance to the luxury segment. He said Lexus and Toyota would continue to have a presence in New York and other large and regional shows, but that the automaker may aim its marketing dollars more at experiential marketing at the shows — including ride-and-drives at auto shows — instead of press conferences.
"What you will see us do is align our investments to those shows relative to the size of the markets," Carter said. "We'll adjust the investment on media days, but to the consumer, it's still the place to be."
Carter said Toyota and Lexus planned to launch 31 new vehicles or derivatives of existing vehicles over the next three years — seven more than it had done over the previous 36-month period.
DETROIT -- The world's largest holding company of advertising agencies, which has done business with Ford Motor Co. for more than 75 years, plans to move several units to downtown Detroit in a move that could bring more than 1,000 jobs to the city.
London-based WPP plc — which includes GTB, VMLY&R, Burrows, Hudson Rouge, Iconmobile, Xaxis and Zubi — said Tuesday it plans to move into the vacant Marquette Building at 243 W. Congress St. The building is across the street from the site of the Detroit auto show -- the TCF Center, formerly known as Cobo Center.
GTB, or Global Team Blue, works heavily with Ford, which is renovating the Michigan Central Station in Corktown as an anchor to its $740 million autonomous and electric vehicle campus in the neighborhood west of downtown.
The new WPP space is expected to be open by the end of next year, the company said in a news release. It said it will also maintain a presence in nearby Dearborn, where the agency currently has about 850 employees.
The Michigan Strategic Fund board on Tuesday approved a $1.65 million Michigan Business Development Program grant for the move.
GTB CEO Robert Guay said in an interview that discussions over the move were well under way when he joined the company in July.
"As someone who has worked in a creative environment in the city of Detroit, I am thrilled with the opportunity to identify and recruit emerging tech and creative talent," he said.
An MSF board briefing memo says the move is a $19.24 million investment and that in addition to the 850 Dearborn employees, another 182 jobs are anticipated. The new building would house client engagement, finance, human resources, design, analytics and other company functions, the memo says.
The memo also says the city of Detroit has offered a personal property tax abatement up to 10 years with an estimated value of $993,000. The grant would not be disbursed until certain performance milestones are met, according to the memo.
The news comes a year after Ford replaced WPP as its longtime lead creative ad agency with BBDO of New York City. It switched shops following five months of review.
"Ford and GTB were on parallel paths looking for the same thing: Proximity to the city center and access to tech resources and talent," Guay said. "I can't say that we necessarily looked at the space solely because of Ford building in Corktown, but it certainly was an assuring thing."
The Marquette Building is owned by Detroit-based Sterling Group.
Auto seating supplier Adient plc, the spinoff of Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls Inc., paid $36.13 million to acquire and improve the property over the course of a year between November 2016 and November 2017, according to city property records. Then the company took a roughly $11 million haircut on it in a $25 million sale of the building, a 400-space parking deck and a surface parking lot a year ago.
A source familiar with the matter said WPP will lease most of the Detroit building and have its employees park in the parking deck and surface lot. Guay declined to comment on parking.
Adient was planning to turn the Marquette Building into its new $100 million headquarters, but that plan was scrapped in June 2018. Adient is remaining in its Plymouth Township headquarters.
Ford Motor Co., which has been using Bryan Cranston as its celebrity spokesman, is adding another star to its marketing mix. Actor Idris Elba will serve as "creative partner" to help launch a Mustang-inspired electric crossover Nov. 17 and appear in a global marketing campaign for the vehicle.
Ford is leveraging the fact that Elba in the 1980s worked at a Ford factory in England before his acting career took off. "My dad also worked at Ford. It's practically in my blood. So working on this project and getting behind the wheel of a car that takes us all towards the future feels like things are coming full circle, but with more exhilaration and tech," he said in a statement supplied by Ford.
Ford's comments about the partnership suggest that the ads will pull from Elba's history with Ford. Andy Georgescu, a Ford product marketing manager, called him an "authentic partner" when "you match his celebrity with his personal biography." He noted Elba's interest in street racing as well as "passion for reducing emissions around the world" — two traits that make him a match for promoting a vehicle that seeks to blend performance with environmentalism.
The actor is known for playing Nelson Mandela in Long Walk to Freedom as well as starring in the critically acclaimed TV series "The Wire." This year he starred in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, and he is set to appear in the forthcoming Cats movie based on the Broadway musical.
In media interviews, Elba has frequently talked about his experiences working the night shift at a Ford plant in Dagenham, England. In a speech in 2016 in which he criticized the entertainment industry for its lack of diversity, he said, "Ford Dagenham turned out to have more opportunity and more diversity than the TV industry I was trying to break into," according to an account in a London-area news publication.
In 2013, the Irish Examiner reported how logging time in the blue-collar job motivated Elba to pursue a more glamorous acting career. "I was doing a night shift at the Ford factory in Dagenham with my dad and I knew that if I stayed there, I'd be a lifer. I took the moment to say, 'Stop. Go for it,' " the newspaper reported him saying.
The Atkinson Cycle is a method of internal combustion first proposed by English engineer, James Atkinson, in 1882. The Atkinson Cycle uses a different thermodynamic process than the traditional Otto Cycle common to most gasoline engines.
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