My Creative Director and friend Michael McCormick (Guts of a Burglar blogster) needs a new car (at least I think so). His Ford Explorer is 12 years old, runs like a top and still looks pretty good … on the outside.
The inside is a different matter entirely. Passengers have to fly their legs over the Sirius antenna wire; the spots and stains are, well, spots and stains. The A/C in the back doesn’t work anymore and the vehicle is almost ready for its confirmation or bar mitzvah.
When Michael got this Explorer back in the late ‘90s (it’s his second one), I went with him to the dealership in Queens. He told the saleslady what he wanted, and she asked him what color he liked.
Anything you have is fine, he said. She and I looked at each other in disbelief.
Anyway, I thought the Cash for Clunkers program was a heaven sent opportunity for Michael to get a new ride. He disagreed. He thinks his Chuck (the Truck) is barely broken in. The tires are new, the brakes are new, the oil’s been changed and fluids checked every 3,000 miles. Yada yada.
It took me a while to understand his real reason.
For weeks I encouraged him to go to see the new cars. He wants an Explorer but the closest Ford dealership closed and they don’t make Explorers anymore, anyway.
So, I went to tweetdeck and started asking around. @ScottMonty, Ford’s Twitter spokesperson, gave me some recommendations. Another friend suggested the Flex and sent me photos. No buying action. I asked Michael why he wasn’t moving on this.
Turns out he really and truly doesn’t think taxpayers should be subsidizing his new car. Hmm. Hadn’t thought of that. And, he pointed out, a new vehicle cost a lot more than $4,500, perhaps around $25,000 more for what he wants. Why spend all that dough when he doesn’t need a new car? Men are soooo logical. It’s frustrating. But I already knew that. The new insights this whole episode provided got me thinking.
Not too long ago, the only way Ford could show its cars was in print or television advertising. Now that’s all changed.
What we see on TV or in ads is one-way communication, the company talking at us and controlling the flow of information.
Now we control the flow of information and we can find what we want, when we want it and consult with friends and family and experts along the way. I’ve known all this in theory and in making smaller purchasers for quite a while, but it’s a different matter to experience the whole process for a big ticket item (like a new SUV) in the real world of actually buying it.
In the meantime, people haven’t stopped looking for authenticity. And marketers are paying serious attention to what’s going on in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. On the web, customers can find anything, competitive prices, colors, and visit a website and buy anything in a NY minute.
Except, of course, Michael. He’ll be driving that car and me – and, horrors, clients – into the ground. Eventually, he’ll chat with a few friends and head off and buy a Flex or Edge or, who knows, a Club Cab F-250 – purple with a yellow interior, that some dealer happens to have on the lot and ready to roll.