Jack Yan
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The Persuader

My personal blog, started in 2006.



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02.01.2011

MG taps into BMC’s small-car heritage to market the 3

SAIC is doing a great job in tapping to the heritage of MG and the companies that have gone before. Hop over to the SAIC–MG site and you’ll see this image to tie in to the launch of the B-class MG 3 hatchback:

MG celebrates its small car expertise

   The imagery tells a good deal of the story already: the Austin 7, the Morris Minor 1000, the ADO 16, the MG ZR Mk II, the MG 3 SW, and the latest MG 3. The text refers to the 80 years of expertise that MG has had in small cars (more if you begin counting the other parts of BMC), how they are beloved of the Royal Family, how such old cars are kept by their fans in Britain, and, after the company created the Mini (a particularly cheeky reference to either the 1959 or the 2000 Mini—it’s intentionally ambiguous), it’s moved on to China.
   My Mandarin is non-existent but I’m guessing that the names referred to in the text are Pinyin transliterations of Morris and Cecil Kimber.
   Never mind that there are probably more Britons buying new German cars these days, and that BMW might not be that happy to see MG claim that it created the Mini. Technically, there is no lying here, and gives MG a far better halo effect among Chinese buyers than it ever had with British ones in its waning days under UK ownership.
   It also helps that the mainstream (state-run) media in Red China don’t go around rubbishing MG and Roewe like the British media were so keen to do with MG and Rover.
   Early indications from Chinese websites such as the China Car Times is that the MG 3’s interior quality leaves something to be desired, while MG fans at Keith Adams’s AROnline site are generally negative about the styling.
   This is not the MG that traditionalists know, with the TF, A or B, but then, the latest MG 3 is probably on a par with the MG Metro of the 1980s as a warmed-over hatch. The MG 6, at least, doesn’t look like the Roewe 550 on which it is based—and that’s a step up from the MG Maestro of the same decade. This promotional message might not work perfectly in markets where MG can’t be readily mixed with Austin and Morris, but as a marketing exercise, the copy and the imagery give MG with a sense of desirability (Chinese buyers might be shifting to favouring local brands, but there’s still a bit of snobbery about foreign ones), and of proven expertise (which few of its rivals can claim).
   It’s the sort of sophistication that few would give credit to a Chinese automaker for having. However, it shows that imagination and humour are not lacking in Shanghai—and even if you don’t like the look of the 2011 MG 3, it’s at least original, unlike the Toyota clones coming from BYD. At this rate, the occident should be worried about the rise of the Chinese motor industry, because even the marketing is getting cleverer.

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Filed under: branding, business, cars, China, culture, design, internet, marketing, media, UK—Jack Yan @ 11.08

3 Responses to ‘MG taps into BMC’s small-car heritage to market the 3’

  1. jaklumen says:

    At this rate, the occident should be worried about the rise of the Chinese motor industry, because even the marketing is getting cleverer.

    So noted, Jack. I’m not too surprised, however; I think as China continues to play it smart, it may very well come into its own industry-wide as Japan did.

    It does make me wonder where this will leave the Koreans. I admit I haven’t followed companies like Kia and Daewoo lately, but my impression has been they can’t compete, just yet.

    I’m sure hand-wringing in the States and the drubbing of Detroit and The Big Three will continue. US manufacturing is good if I want a big pickup truck, generally (Ford series still seems strong), but I’m still sticking with sub-compact and compact cars. I haven’t seen anything worthy of my attention that is not still Japanese, basically.

  2. Jack Yan says:

    I think the Koreans will do OK, at least the bigger players such as Hyundai (which owns Kia). Down here, the Koreans are mainstream, and even some cabbies are beginning to opt for Hyundai Sonatas. Closer to you, in Canada, some Korean cars have a very interesting badge on them: Chevrolet. I think the US-market Chevy Aveo is built in Korea, by Daewoo, and the new Chevy Cruze, while built there, is a Daewoo design (on a German platform). The Suzuki Forenza and Reno were also Daewoo products.
       There are few US-branded (even foreign-made) compact cars that I would deem worthy. The Dodge Caliber is terrible. The US-market Ford Focus (at least for the remainder of this model year) is a generation behind the one sold in most other countries (including México)—the US gets to catch up with the 2012s. The Chevy Cruze, as I said, is a Daewoo, and Daewoos are almost always terrible. However, in my opinion, the best, hands-down, compact car on sale in your country is the Ford Fiesta. Toyota cannot touch it for design or value; and the closest to the Fiesta that I can think of, among the Japanese, is the Honda Fit.

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