July 30, 2009
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
Saltiel, vice president of marketing at Navistar International
Corp., the maker of long-haul trucks, has a message for marketers
struggling with the economic downturn. Reinvent and innovate.
At a time
when General Motors, Chrysler, Citibank and even the State of
California are in crisis, Saltiel’s work at Warrenville,
Ill.-based Navistar points the way forward for marketers in struggling
roots run deep, back to Cyrus McCormick who invented the mechanical
reaper in the 19th century and revolutionized farming. His company
merged with four others to become International Harvester in 1902.
In 1907, the first International brand trucks began delivering
farm goods to market. By 1955, Harvester was No. 26 on the Fortune
500 list and it remained a highly profitable, performance-driven
company into the 1970s. But the 1980s held trouble.
almost went bankrupt,” Saltiel says. “We divested
the agricultural equipment business and became a truck company.
We’ve gone from a shrinking company to a growing company
in the last five years,” he adds. “We reestablished
our brand. Today we project a new more confident voice in the
his colleagues launched a major new product, a long-haul, fuel-efficient
truck designed for comfort marketed under the International LoneStar
brand, in 2008.
buyer research showed more than 70% of truck drivers also are
motorcycle enthusiasts. That research drove Navistar to co-brand
a LoneStar option with Harley-Davidson. With LoneStar, Navistar’s
share of the long-haul truck category went from 17% to 30%, according
promotional program for the truck line is state of the art. It’s
predicated on research insights, creative in its use of marketing
tactics, and highly metrics-focused.
drivers have a lawyer complex,” Saltiel says. “Everybody
makes jokes about how bad, how low lawyers and truck drivers are
on the totem pole. We wanted to bring back the cowboy persona
of the truck driver. Trucking is a noble profession. We want to
build on that.”
decided to create a movie, Drive and Deliver, featuring
real truck drivers and their lives on the road. He hired Academy
Award-winning documentary filmmaker Brett Morgen and Omnicom’s
branded entertainment unit, Fathom Communications, to create the
film. According to a New York Times report, the production
budget for the 45-minute feature was $2 million with additional
promotional expenditures of $3 million out of a total $15 million
marketing budget for LoneStar. Navistar would not confirm this
team interviewed more than 700 truck drivers to find the right
stars for the film. After 21 days on the road covering 17 states
with a 20-person film crew, the film features three truck drivers:
Steven Donaldson, of Fayetteville, Ohio; Chris LeCount, of Goshen,
Ind.; and Tim Young, of Flat Rock, Ala., as they make deliveries
with the LoneStar.
It shows the
details of their heroic lives and relies on music from Merle Haggard,
Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Marshall Tucker Band and Hank Williams to
make the point that trucking is a noble profession.
promoted the film with a Hollywood-like opening at the Great American
Trucking Show in Dallas, as well as at conferences, through print
media and even on the Internet. It’s a solid, differentiating
hit that motivates the dealer network and the end customer.
to the Fleet Owner newsletter, at the screening, “Truckers
gave the movie a three-minute standing ovation.”
truckers are very emotional about Stand and Deliver,”
Saltiel adds. “They say, ‘Finally, somebody is telling
our story.’ ”
marketers who want to reinvent and innovate need to think about
four critical steps, the same steps he’s using at Navistar:
a bold vision
a culture that rewards creativity
what drives customer experience
to utilizing branded entertainment as a marketing tool, Saltiel
deploys a fully integrated suite of tactical elements, from glossy
brochures, to blogs, to interactive Web sites and print advertising.
Wherever he can, Saltiel aims to be unconventional. He displayed
the LoneStar truck at a major auto show—the only long-haul
truck at the show—where it clearly stood out.
his teeth in sales at Inland Steel and then in marketing at Ford
Motor Co. working on the Jaguar brand. He’s worked at Sony
in the consumer electronics business driving marketing for flat
I bring to this job at Navistar International is a total outside
perspective,” Saltiel says, indicating he’s not limited
by traditional business-to-business marketing principles.
customer relationship management is the future of marketing, especially
automotive marketing. “I think the entire marketplace is
moving towards a much more CRM-centric approach and away from
expensive 30-second commercials,” he says. But he worries
about the future of General Motors, lamenting that the internally
competitive GM culture in Detroit prevents the kind of forward-looking
change he’s creating at Navistar International.
marketing is a great career for today’s college graduates,
even if jobs are scarce at the moment.
is a terrific career. It is so portable. I'm living proof that
you can take your marketing skills from business-to-business,
to business-to-consumer, from luxury products to consumer electronics,
to automotive products, to industrial products. It's been a very
interesting career for me. Never boring.”
industry wants to get on the right road to recovery, Saltiel’s
reinvention principles are worth a look.
Krauss is president of Market Strategy Group, based in Chicago,
and can be reached at Michael.Krauss@Mkt-strat.com