A co-worker has noted for months that Mitsubishi should come out with a CD mix. The tunes it picks to promote their newest models inevitably turn into rehashed hits. Business 2.0 has also been listening to this musical marketing trend. B2.0 notes it all started with Microsoft launching Windows 95 with the Rolling Stone's "Start me up."
Per usual, the tech industry is the pioneer. Then a second industry steps in to make it de rigueur. But there is more to look at here than the usual innovation cycle.
The Big 3 have unique opportunities and challenges when it comes to branding.
Opportunity: Most obviously, automakers' massive marketing budgets allow them to connect their cars to popular songs. They can also create unique co-branding opportunities.
Take Apple and Volkswagen. With every VW Bug purchased you now get a free iPod. Thankfully the iPod plugs into the car's speaker system—sidestepping the safety issues associated with wearing headphones while driving. In the process, they plug into a younger, digital-music-loving audience.
Challenges: You will not buy a car to get the Starbucks coupons included in the owner's manual. Nor will a song get you to lease a new car. Automakers know this and are also making statements with unusual car models.
All of these cars are cool to look at—as they speed by my subtler model. But consider the money that goes into developing a car. It's a pricey gamble to defend the value of your brand. But it is fun to look at the cars and listen to the music as the Big 3 continue to roll the dice.