Reports say Volkswagen is considering a reprise of its cult-status ``Beetle,'' that roundish, inexpensive, fun-to-drive clattertrap many car owners fondly remember. A souped up, '90s version-the Concept 1 Cabriolet, which sort of resembles the old Bug-could be sold in America by 1997, depending on consumer reaction.
But in this advertising-savvy era, you gotta love Heinz Nordhoff, the Volkswagen chairman originally responsible for putting the Beetle into mass production at the end of World War II.
At the time, he reportedly called it ``a poor, ugly thing-a car that has more mistakes than a dog has fleas.''
Is he a marketing guru, or what?
Speaking of slick marketing, many businesses have a gimmick, a hook that keeps customers remembering them. The nine-member Metro 25 Tire Centers, Philadelphia group have a sweet way of telling customers ``thanks for the biz.''
Craig Myers, who handles marketing for the group and owns Allen Tire & Service Inc., a group member, said that, depending on the holiday or occasion, customers usually find a little something extra in their invoices: for Valentines Day, a chocolate heart; for Easter, chocolate-covered eggs.
``Anything it takes to get the customer to think of us,'' Mr. Myers said. ``And they remember you-it does have an effect. They tell us it's a neat idea, and equate our Metro 25s to the promotion.''
Often times, employees also will come up with promo ideas-and it isn't always food. Customers received four-leaf clovers for St. Patrick's Day and tiny American flag pins for the Fourth of July.
Wonder what they got for April Fools Day?
Gute work, Herr Bruce
Ever get that acidic feeling in the pit of your stomach when called upon to speak in front of a group? Well, imagine delivering a talk in a foreign language, other than your own, that is.
For the first time in his career, Bruce Davis, Europe correspondent for TIRE BUSINESS and three other sister publications, gave a speech Feb. 17 in German. The Ohio native spoke for 20 minutes and moderated an hour-long panel discussion, all in German, at a seminar sponsored by Gummiwerke Kraiburg, one of Europe's largest tread rubber suppliers.
He spoke on retreading at the European Community level.
When dispatched to Frankfurt, Germany, in 1985, Mr. Davis, the first managing editor of TIRE BUSINESS, had only a working knowledge of German. Obviously, he's honed that skill.
Still, he's modest about his accomplishment.
``I was surprised initially when I was approached (to speak),'' he said. ``But it worked out OK.''
And to think Gesundheit is about the extent of our grasp of German.
As we perused a recent edition of Nashville, Tenn.-based Beck/Arnley Worldparts Corp.'s Gazette newsletter, we ran across an item referring to ``Beck/Arnley Wordparts.''
Had to wonder if the aftermarket equipment supplier was branching out into the Scrabble business.
But who are we to criticize another publication for splling errs.
Hey, nice tread pattern
Sorry, kitty lovers...A stand-up comedian at an Akron-area comedy club noted ``some of the flattest cats around have Goodyear written all over them.''
Walk a mile...
How often has some wizard at a seminar told you that in order to really appreciate them, you've got to ``put yourself in your customer's shoes''?
Crain's Cleveland Business found a guy who literally did that. William H. Weber, vice president of Perfect Impression Footwear Co., approached a family friend, Dan T. Moore, about creating a sandal that would conform to the user's foot. When that idea failed, they began developing a shoe insert.
Mr. Moore owns a multi-use factory in Cleveland that's home to Flow Polymers Inc., which produces products used in the tire industry, and Dan T. Moore Co., which makes tires for wheelchairs.
In his quest for the perfect shoe insert, Mr. Weber even wore a pair of women's high heels for a day. Talk about putting your sole into your work!