Drew Smith: ethnographer, strategist and host of Rising Minds

Cars, chic(k)s and camp: Prada’s SS12 campaign.

I’ll admit it.

I let out a squeal of delight when I first watched this.

And I’ve squealed with each subsequent viewing.

This spot is auto-cultural Mixmastery at it’s absolute chicest.

I know, I know. It’s a fashion ad.

But my world feels a little bit richer for watching it.

And that’s a very good thing.

Please, watch fullscreen at fullvolume for fulleffect.

Citroen turns 90 with nary a Xantia or Xsara in sight (thank god)

I thought I’d get back into the swing of things with something light weight but nonetheless enjoyable.

The ad above, found via Autoblog, is a celebration of the chevroned one’s first 90 years, a small portion of which I’ve taken great delight (and sometimes enormous despair) in sharing. My great aunt had a metallic sky blue DS that enchanted me as a small child while, in a moment of temporary insanity, I purchased a CX2400 Pallas for AU$1. You can perhaps imagine how that story ended…

Hitting it’s stride with the mass-production of front-wheel drive in the 15, Citroen went on to produce some of the most  sensual, seductive (and sometimes ruinous) cars in the form of the DS, CX, XM, C6 and, long may she reign, the seminal SM.

Beyond these hydropneumatically suspended beasts, Citroen also produced some cracking small cars. Think of the iconic 2CV, the plastic-bodied Mehari or the slightly unhinged AX Gti (an example of which nearly prematurely ended my life thanks to the ease with which the car’s 100 Bhp could get it airborn…) and you’ll know what I mean.

That’s not to say there haven’t been some woeful missteps in the company’s storied history.

They’ve produce some of the most challengingly styled cars this side of the Pontiac Aztek (Ami 6, I’m looking at you) and the whole of 90’s and the first few years of the 00’s were, XM aside, unbelievably glum times for Cit lovers. It seemed as though Peugeot, the controlling partner in the PSA conglomerate, wanted to kill off all the remaining fans with sheer boredom while destroying what market credibility they had left with 0% finance deals and discounts that basically wrote brick-off-a-cliff depreciation into the contract of sale.

I owned a car from this era, a Xantia 2.1 TD, whose sole redeeming feature was it’s ability to do one lap of the Nürburgring without expiring. Even the pleasures of the hydropneumatics were subsumed by Peugeot’s efforts to make the car more “Germanic” (read annoyingly stiff and jittery). And don’t even get me started on the wet fart that was the Xsara.

Happily all of this is overlooked in this joyous advertisement. What we get instead is a veritable orgy of what makes Citroen great: floaty suspension, turning headlamps, cyclops eye instruments out of the CX and a feisty woman going nuts on a beach in an SM, all with Eartha Kitt growling in the background. The LHM lover in me really couldn’t ask for anything more.

BMW Project-i for Isetta

Way back in March I wrote a piece discussing BMW’s Project-i. In it (you can read it here), I roused on BMW for taking such a high-minded approach in describing the project.

I also suggested that if they wanted to provide new forms of popular (as in “for the people”) urban transport, the wonderful Isetta brand was ripe for the picking, leaving the precious BMW unimpeached.

Lo and behold, BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer has just announced that the vehicular outcomes of Project-i will be marketed under a sub-brand called… well, we still don’t know for sure yet. But take a look at the wonderfully feel-good, BMW-produced video above and there’s no prize for guessing what it will be.

Thanks to @bjkraal for the RT from @tmrnews:

Ford Pits New Taurus Against Luxury Brands, hands Mercury/Lincoln a Noose


Up until now, confusion has reigned supreme regarding Ford’s positioning of the new is-it-premium-or-isn’t-it Taurus and how it relates to the Lincoln/Mercury ranges.

Well be confused no longer because the online ad campaign for the new car, going live on August 4, pits the new EcoBoosted sedan against… the Lexus LS460!

In a move that’s sure to mightily upset the brand guardians at Lincoln and Mercury (if indeed there are any…), the campaign gives a blow-by-blow account of how the butch sedan bests the behemoth from Japan, along with the Audi A6, Infiniti M45X and Acura RL, while being up to three times cheaper.

The Detroit News quotes Jim Hall, an analyst at 2953 Analytics LLP as saying the approach is “smart and necessary”. “None of the cars in its segment have these features… when people think of your car as more upscale than it is, it’s only going to help you when they see the price.”

Indeed! Why bother with less well equipped Mercury or an overpriced Lincoln?

The words home and goal are coming to mind right now…

[Source: The Detroit News via Autoblog]

It's not a sedan, it's not an SUV, it's not an estate…it's a damn MPV

And the sooner BMW comes clean about this, the better for all concerned!

This video is 3 minutes and 38 seconds of pure marketing hell, cheesy voiceover and all, because the folks from Munich can’t bring themselves to call their Progressive Activity Sedan an MPV.

There is even a point at 1:28 where Mr. Cheesevoice says “…hmmm, so I’m immediately reminded of…” and I said out loud “an MPV” but our friend goes on to say “…exactly, the difference between economy and first class”! I wanted to scream! Just repeat after me assorted Bangles and Hooydonks: “MPV, it’s as easy as 1-2-3!” Read the rest of this entry »

You know that twitch you get in your eyes when you're tired? Yeah…

If you haven’t already seen this, then be prepared for the onslaught. This the brilliant follow-up to Cabury’s last viral campaign, the Gorilla (sadly no longer available on YouTube).

Just wait for the the balloon. Priceless!

YouTube – Eyebrow Dance.

Volvos and Tchaikovsky = Banging good fun


You may or may not know that I have a secret passion for old Volvos. And not just the sexy ones that fall easily to mind like the P1800 or Amazon. No, even the 144s and 240s of this world cause a frisson in my loins. It’s something about the cold functionality they communicate through purity of line, solidity of proportion and amusing details like illuminated dash switches like those you’d find on an organ. I’ve owned two in my time and although they are long gone, I still wish I had them.

Anyway, on to today’s post! Volvo has recently launched the decidedly sexy XC60 SUV with the world-first City Safety system. This will prevent you from rear-ending another car in traffic as long as you’re travelling below 30 km/h.

To celebrate this amazing bit of technology, they’ve created this wonderful bit of marketing that takes a sly view on the path they’ve taken to this point. Poking fun at themselves is something Volvo has not been  predisposed to (the highly localised Bloody Volvo Driver campaign in Australia notwithstanding) so this ad marks a slight shift in their strategy, and one I think can only help them continue to reform and refine their image.

(Source: BrandFreak) (Image: Flikr)

About DownSideUp Design

I'm Drew Smith and I'm an ethnographer and strategist. By day I shape culture and strategy at Westpac. By night I sleep (mostly). And once a month, I help teams host an event called Rising Minds in London, New York, Toronto and Sydney.

DownsideUpDesign is a place for me to collect stuff that I like, often love and sometimes hate for safe keeping. All views represented here are mine and mine alone and do not represent those of anyone else.

Get in touch at drewpasmith (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet me (@drewpasmith) to rant, contribute or collaborate!

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© Andrew Philip Artois Smith and DownsideUpDesign, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrew/Drew Smith and DownsideUpDesign with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.