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Students learn basic marketing concepts and use professional marketing techniques to compose an advertisement for a hybrid vehicle. In the process, they learn the principles of comparative analysis.
In addition to inventing and designing new technologies, entrepreneurial engineers market their products to the public or industry. Part of successful engineering invention and innovation is exploring the factors that determine success or failure in the competitive marketplace. This includes knowing your product, your competition and your potential customers. Successful engineers have strong written and oral communication skills suitable for a range of audiences. Even though engineers themselves may not create the advertising, they must clearly explain to the advertisers the product benefits.
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d. Examine, evaluate, question, and
ethically use information from a
variety of sources and media to
investigate how environmental
conditions affect the survival of
individual organisms (Grade 6)  ...show
a. Research and evaluate data and
information to learn about the types
and availability of various natural
resources, and use this knowledge to
make evidence-based decisions
(Grade 6)  ...show
Did you know that the average U.S. citizen is exposed to about 5,000 advertising messages per day? People who are heavy media users (television, radio, Internet) are bombarded by as much as 10 times that number; about 50,000 messages per day!
Imagine you are a marketing executive for a company introducing a new hybrid vehicle (see Figure 1). You need to develop an advertising campaign to launch your product. How will you capture the consumer's attention and get your message across? What is your message?
For this activity, focus on creating a magazine advertisement. To develop a persuasive message, you need three basic types of market knowledge. You need to know your product, your competition and your customers.
Product knowledge includes an understanding of:
How your product (a hybrid vehicle) works
Key features and benefits of your product
The defining advantage of your product; what makes it stand out from the competition
Competitive knowledge includes an understanding of:
Other vehicles that people might want to buy instead of yours
Up-and-coming technology that might compete with your product or replace it
Customer knowledge includes basic information about potential buyers such as:
Age group, income, gender, etc.
Interests, buying habits, etc.
First, develop a concept for your ad, the main point you want to get across. To do this, prepare a list of features and benefits for the product. (Use the attached Marketing Worksheet.) A feature is something about the car. A benefit is something good the owner of the car experiences because of the feature. Here are some examples of features and benefits:
Feature of the vehicle: The car goes 50 miles for each gallon of gasoline. Benefit to the owner: You save money.
Feature of the vehicle: The car burns less fossil fuel (gas). Benefit to the owner: You help the environment (good feeling).
As you prepare your list of features and benefits, think in terms of what a prospective buyer of the vehicle wants. Will your ad appeal primarily to a buyer'is emotions (emotional appeal) or reason (rational appeal) or both?
Check the features and benefits of the vehicle you are advertising against the features and benefits of competitor vehicles that might also interest your buyer. Consider how you will make your choice stand out. Identify the defining advantage of your vehicle and make it prominent in your ad.
The general direction in which something tends to move; a general tendency or inclination. Current style: the latest trend in fashion.
Marketing is a form of communication. Without marketing, consumers would not be aware of innovative products that can benefit their lives. Marketing is also a powerful force that influences the choices we make. Young people are vulnerable to manipulation if they are not aware of the techniques marketers use. The task of a good marketer is to get a message across without compromising ethical standards.
In this activity, students are introduced to basic marketing concepts and learn to use professional marketing techniques to inform consumers about the benefits of an innovative technology, the hybrid motor vehicle. In the process, students become more sophisticated about the techniques marketers use and better able to evaluate marketing claims.
Consider an idea described in the Activity Extensions section to broaden the scope of this activity by having students create promotional materials for a wider variety of green and renewable products.
You are going to write an advertisement for the first hybrid SUV (sports utility vehicle), the Ford Escape HEV (hybrid electric vehicle). Ford is planning to introduce the Escape HEV in Fall 2004. (If this vehicle is further postponed or old news, have students write an ad for the Toyota Prius or other newly introduced HEV.)
First, gain product knowledge through background reading and research (see Figure 2). Learn how hybrid vehicles work. Learn what capabilities engineers designed into the vehicle. A good place to start is How Stuff Works, How Hybrid Cars Work: at: http://www.howstuffworks.com/hybrid-car.htm. You can also check the Department of Energy's Hybrid Electric Vehicle Program.
Next, learn as much as you can about the particular type of vehicle: a new hybrid SUV. Make a list of the key features and benefits of the Ford Escape HEV on your Marketing Worksheet. (For more information on the Ford Escape HEV see the References section or search the Internet.)
Now, research the competition. Is anyone else coming out with a hybrid SUV in the near future? If not, consider what would make someone choose a hybrid SUV over a standard SUV. Why might it be cool to own a hybrid SUV? On your Marketing Worksheet, make a list of the key features and benefits of a standard SUV or other competitor for the Ford Escape HEV (including the standard Ford Escape itself). Also check out recent news stories (see the References section or search the Internet) to get a sense of market trends.
Take a look at this magazine advertisement for the Honda Insight HEV (see Figure 3 or page 1 of the attached Honda Insight Advertisement) and notice how it uses features and benefits to get its message across. Analyze the ad by answering the following questions. Use another Marketing Worksheet to record your answers.
What is the concept for the advertisement? (Answer: It focuses on environmental benefits.)
What is the tag line? (Answer: It's an environmental movement all by itself.)
List three features of the Honda Insight and the implied benefits. (Possible answers: Terrific gas mileage, battery never needs to be plugged in, efficient three-cylinder gas engine, aerodynamic design, lightweight body, ultra low emissions.) Notice that the ad does not state the benefits directly. Sometimes the benefit is so obvious: saving money on gas because of the terrific gas mileage that the car gets, for example; that it would be an insult to the intelligence of the buyer to mention it. When the benefit is not so obvious, it is best to mention it.
What are some other ways the ad makes an appeal to a prospective buyer? (Answer: It makes an emotional appeal and a rational appeal. The emotional appeal is to the buyer's environmental conscience and the prestige of being among the first to own a vehicle that could 'change the world.' The rational appeal emphasizes years of research and development. The two appeals are combined in the phrase 'technology with a conscience.')
Other selling points not mentioned in this ad could be included in other advertisements or promotions: The Sierra Club endorsed the Honda Insight, the first automobile to receive such recognition. Studies have shown that customers are highly satisfied with the performance of hybrid vehicles, not just the environmental benefits.
Divide the students into groups of 3 or 4, and challenge each marketing team to write a magazine ad. Tell the students: Imagine you are an executive with Ford's advertising company. You are part of the team that must write a magazine advertisement for the new Ford Escape HEV. Make sure your advertising copy (ad copy) has a strong concept related to the defining advantage of the product and reflected in the tag line of the ad. Mention enough features and benefits of the vehicle to make the advertisement persuasive. Appeal to your buyer's emotions ; emotions help to drive choice, but supply sufficient reasons to make the claims believable.
After students have researched how a hybrid vehicle works (in the Observing section), test their product knowledge with a short quiz.
Activity Embedded Assessment
As the marketing concepts are introduced (in the Thinking section), test the students' grasp of the concepts with call-out questions.
Assess the student marketing teams' completed magazine advertisements (as described in the Writing section). Each should be complete with persuasive ad copy, tag line and graphic images.
Have the students look at Figure 1 (or page 2 of the attached Honda Insight Advertisement), a marketing photograph of the Honda Insight car. Why do you suppose the hybrid vehicle is photographed near a wind farm? (Answer: This is a common advertising technique of associating a new product whose benefit is not yet known or well established with a more familiar product whose benefit is recognized or related to the benefit of the new product. In this case, the environmental benefit of the energy from wind power is being associated with and used to imply a similar environmental benefit from the car, even though in terms of energy source, a hybrid vehicle has nothing in common with a wind turbine.) Notice how the diagonal line of the wind turbines serves to emphasize the diagonal line of the front of the car. Why is that effective? (Answer: It draws the eye in a wedge shape suggesting dynamic movement into the future.)
Other green products: Broaden the scope of the activity by having students create an advertising pamphlet for a different green or renewable product instead of a hybrid car. Show students magazine, shopping ads or Internet images of green products, such as solar battery chargers, bamboo rugs, and fair-trade apparel. (A good resource is the National
Geographic's Green Guide for Everyday Living website at www.thegreenguide.com.) Next, have students choose a product, make up a company to sell the product, and create a marketing pamphlet and skit/presentation to promote the product. You could also have students imagine a not-yet-invented product (such as a solar-powered ipod, etc.). Use the attached Marketing Rubric to explain to the students the criteria on which their pamphlets and presentations will be graded.
Advanced Activity: Know your competition. Many people talk about the 'green' potential of a hydrogen (fuel cell) vehicle. Compare the advantages and disadvantages of the hybrid vehicle and a fuel-cell powered vehicle. Use a Marketing Worksheet to make the comparison. Is fuel-cell technology efficient enough to compete with hybrid technology to power a vehicle? To learn more about how fuel cells work, see How Stuff Works, How Fuel Cells Work, Efficiency of Fuel Cells at: science.howstuffworks.com/fuel-cell4.htm. (This extension activity is only for highly interested and motivated students with a good grasp of science. Fuels cells are a complex technology. For other students, the subject can be introduced simply in marketing terms as a potential competitor technology.)
Having students work in teams of three or four to conduct background research and develop the magazine advertisement allows them to take on roles most suited to their abilities: Research, copy writing, graphic design, etc.
Break the Chain: Gasoline-Electric Hybrid Vehicles. National Resources Defense Council. Accessed September 22, 2004. http://www.nrdc.org/breakthechain/howto1.asp
Dictionary.com. Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. Accessed September 22, 2004. (Source of vocabulary definitions, with some adaptation.)
Escape (hybrid vehicle). Ford Motor Company. www.ford.com. Accessed September 22, 2004.
Fuel prices driving sales of new hybrid autos. Updated September 1, 2003. KATU TV, Portland, OR, Fisher Communications, Inc. Accessed September 22, 2004. Formerly found at: http://www.katu.com/consumernews/story.asp?ID=60362
Ford Escape HEV. Updated March 30, 2001. 2001 Los Angeles Auto Show, Edmonds.com. www.insideline.com. Accessed September 22, 2004.
Hybrid Electric & Fuel Cell Vehicles, Advanced Vehicles & Fuels Research. National Renewable Energy Lab, U.S. Department of Energy. www.nrel.gov. Accessed September 22, 2004.
Evolving Technology. Ford Motor Vehicles. www.ford.com/green/technology. Accessed December 19, 2011.
Hybrid Vehicles. American Honda Motor Company. automobiles.honda.com. Accessed September 22, 2004.
Llanos, Miguel. Hydrogen cars ready to roll — for a price. Updated June 24, 2004. MSNBC.com. Accessed September 22, 2004.
Nice, Karim. How Fuel Cells Work, Efficiency of Fuel Cells. How Stuff Works. science.howstuffworks.com/fuel-cell4.htm. Accessed September 22, 2004.
Nice, Karim. How Hybrid Cars Work. How Stuff Works. howstuffworks.com/hybrid-car.htm. Accessed September 22, 2004.
Prius (hybrid vehicle). Toyota Motor Corporation. www.toyota.com. Accessed September 22, 2004.
Jane Evenson, Mindy Schaefer Zarske, Denise W. Carlson
Integrated Teaching and Learning Program, College of Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder
The contents of this digital library curriculum were developed under a grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), U.S. Department of Education and National Science Foundation GK-12 grant no. 0338326. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the Department of Education or National Science Foundation, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.
Last modified: February 4, 2016
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