No. 927
December 13, 2017
 

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Peter M. DeLorenzo has been immersed in all things automotive since childhood. Privileged to be an up-close-and-personal witness to the glory days of the U.S. auto industry, DeLorenzo combines that historical legacy with his own 22-year career in automotive marketing and advertising to bring unmatched industry perspectives to the Internet with Ujian-nasional.info, which was founded on June 1, 1999. DeLorenzo is known for his incendiary commentaries and laser-accurate analysis of the automobile business, as well as racing and the business of motorsports. Author. Commentator. Influencer. The Consigliere. Minister of the High-Octane Truth. DeLorenzo is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the business today.

DeLorenzo's latest book is Witch Hunt (Octane Press  ). It is available on Amazon in both hardcover and Kindle formats, as well as on iBookstore. DeLorenzo is also the author of The United States of Toyota.

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Tuesday
Jan292008

RANTS #430

By Peter M. De Lorenzo 

Marketing Fraud on a Grand Scale, Brought to You by Porsche.

Detroit. Porsche’s advertising/marketing/Internet campaign for the new Porsche Cayenne GTS is the latest attempt by the self-proclaimed “world’s most profitable car company” to link its ungainly SUV to its greatest sports cars and traditions, and in doing so it achieves a new low for the once-bulletproof brand by at once dismissing its own legacy and insulting the intelligence of every auto enthusiast – Porsche, or otherwise – in the process.

The GTS is the new version of the Cayenne SUV that abandons all pretense of having any off-road prowess. Instead, its mission is defined as being one of high performance for the road, and Porsche’s new ad campaign for the vehicle attempts to link it with every great road-going Porsche of the past. A stretch that only delusional Porsche marketers could possibly attempt - and a flat-out insult to every great Porsche sports car that has come before it.

This is an apparent about-face from Porsche’s previous stumble-bum marketing efforts for its leviathan SUV, in which the company desperately tried to establish its off-road credentials, culminating with a publicity stunt - the “Transsyberia” adventure of late last year - which accomplished exactly zero for the brand.

Now, with this new campaign, Porsche is trying to slot its SUV into a segment that was made obsolete years ago – that of the “high-performance” SUV - an automotive oxymoron that should have never seen the light of day to begin with and one that Porsche has decided to attack, albeit years too late.

And the results, predictably, are disastrous.

I could fill my entire column with horrific quotes from this new Porsche ad campaign, but I’ve selected just two to contemplate for now...

“It’s what you build when you’ve spent your whole life building sports cars.” Oh, really? Yes, I would imagine if you’re a company with the legacy of building the 356 and 911 sports cars, and the 904, 906, 908, 910, 917, et al racing cars – machines known for their lightweight, purposeful and functionally elegant designs – you could become disillusioned and go off half-cocked and conceive a bloated, blunderbuss of a 5500-lb.+ SUV, couldn’t you? Not.

No, the Cayenne GTS is what you come up with when you’re completely out of new ideas and when the whole focus of the company has become twisted and warped by the whims of its maniacal German car executive/”genius” (just ask him) Wendelin Wiedeking, the Porsche CEO (and German media favorite of the moment) who wants to take over the world as soon as his mentor – Ferdinand Piech - the other maniacal German car executive/”genius” lets him.

Wiedeking’s idolatry of short-term profits over everything else is well known. The Cayenne was brought out under his watch at the peak of the full-size SUV craze in the U.S., and he financed the future of the company on its success - let’s make that initial success, as the vehicle has gradually lost steam in the market. Today, Porsche finds itself in a battle to justify the Cayenne’s existence, and it ain’t pretty.

The thing about the Cayenne is that is simply the antithesis of every great Porsche built before it. Instead of being lithe, beautiful in its function and aerodynamic, the Cayenne has the aerodynamics of a brick and is almost as heavy as a Hummer H2. Instead of being agile and light on its feet, the Cayenne is lumbering, sluggish and embarrassingly un-Porsche-like by any measure.

And Porsche could have done so much better, which is the real crime here. They could have turned the category on its ear with a vehicle that offered a new level of AWD performance and responsiveness, while staying true to the Porsche philosophy. Instead, they copied the very worst of the excesses brought on by the American SUV craze, which is basically anathema to everything Porsche stands for. Not good.

True to form, however, Wiedeking never gave it even a fleeting thought that the Cayenne might just do permanent damage to Porsche’s brand image. After all, when you’re an infallible auto genius, why bother worrying about such long-term esoteric minutiae as brand image, right? We don’t need no stinkin’ brand image, right? Look at the profits! We’re the most profitable car company IN THE WORLD! To Hell with legacy, to Hell with history, to Hell with brand image, to Hell with whatever it is the company once stood for!

Under Wiedeking’s watch, whatever residual brand image is left at the Most Mercenary Car Company in the World is simply irrelevant. Nope, doesn’t matter anymore, because they’re going to apparently continue to build this Angry Anvil of an SUV even if the Detroit Three – the ones who invented the category to begin with – are running away from the segment at blistering speed. It’s a rare occurrence when the denizens of Detroit can make a European manufacturer of Porsche’s pedigree look really bad, but this is definitely one of those times.

And here’s the second quote from the Cayenne GTS campaign that merits a look...

“From behind the wheel, the resemblance is uncanny.” One of the new print ads for the Cayenne GTS features this headline (with a Cayenne GTS parked next to one of the Porsche RS Spyder ALMS cars - as if) and goes on to say the following: “It’s everything we’ve learned in six decades of racing transferred to the street. A lowered suspension and broader stance matched to 405 hp and 21-inch wheels. The new Cayenne GTS. For further evidence of its performance DNA, visit porscheusa.com/bloodlines. Porsche. There is no substitute.”

Uh, resemblance to what, exactly? A 550 RS Spyder? A 930 Turbo? A Boxster, even? Not a chance. I don’t care how much you can make a 5,500-lb. SUV “dance,” because doing a GTS version of the Cayenne for the street is like putting tap shoes on a rhino. And to link it in any way to some of motordom’s most historic and legendary machines is an outrage.

The raison d’etre for the Cayenne GTS is non-existent. And the vehicle is especially ludicrous coming from a car company with one of the great automotive legacies of all time. One that’s rapidly deteriorating, I might add, thanks to Wendelin Wiedeking’s skewed “vision” of what Porsche is, as opposed to what it should be all about.

Merriam-Webster has in its definition for fraud the following: an “intentional perversion of truth in order to induce another to part with something of value.”

The entire marketing campaign for the Porsche Cayenne GTS is fraudulent and everyone involved, from the Porsche “brain trust” in Germany and the company’s U.S. managers, down to the ad agency operatives that generated this drivel must take responsibility.

The Cayenne GTS is simply the wrong vehicle, at the wrong time, from the wrong car company.

Thanks for listening, see you next Wednesday.

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