The brand that created cars such as the don’t-bother-knocking Sandman and the loud-and-proud Monaro is planning to lean on its heritage in the way it deals with customers and the way it presents itself.
In announcing the new direction, newly appointed chairman and managing director Dave Buttner says marketing the Australian-ness of Holden is “a delicate balance” that cannot be overegged but that it is an important component in reinventing the only Australian car brand – albeit one that now imports all its vehicles.
“It’s not enough just to stand back and say ‘hey, we’re Australian’, we have to demonstrate it through the way we act.”
And he says it’ll be more about how the brand behaves and responds as much as marketing words.
“Living these values, we challenge convention, give everything a crack. We stand for something and persevere until we get what we want, all with the laconic humour synonymous with our culture.”
Marketing director Kristian Aquilina says Holden is a brand that invites opinions and inspires passion.
“It’s never going to be one of those brands that’s 5 out of 10 [in people’s opinion]; it’s either 1 out of 10 or 10 out of 10,” he says. “It’s a brand that everyone – everyone – has an opinion on.”
In emphasising the Australian connection Aquilina made some bold statements no doubt set to reignite debate about the brand.
“There’s only one brand, one company, one dealer network that gets out of bed every morning to make the drive better for all Australians and for all New Zealanders,” he says. “None of the other global brands share that purpose.
“We have something very unique here … the only one born here, the only one that truly gets Aussies and Kiwis better than any other automotive company.
“That’s what differentiates Holden from the rest.”
But Aquilina says the Australian connection won’t necessarily be overt in above the line advertising.
“It’s not shouting from the rooftops ‘we’re Aussie’ … it’s just us being Aussie and representing the Aussie character and personality. It’s about us behaving in a way that is reflective of Australian culture.”
Don’t expect any “oi, oi, oi”, either.
“Us being Australian is not going to be delivered through stereotypes of locations and ockering up.”
Think subtlety and restraint.
“We want to bring out our personality, a bit of cool, a bit of swagger and our style of humour in everything that we do.”
He points to a recent change in direction in dealing with negative commenters on social media.
“We decided to fight back, fight back with that sass, vigour, confidence and swagger, take on those many keyboard warriors out there – and there are plenty of them – and what that’s done is bring our fans to life also in support of Holden, get behind us where they once stood silent.”
He says the results have been positive.
“Social sentiment has moved very positively towards Holden.”