Which Are You, Stick or Automatic?

First, pity me.  Mile after harrowing mile, our highschooler is working his way towards an unrestricted license and auto-independence.  If we survive the learner’s permit phase, the payoff will be as follows: My trusty old Saturn sedan will no longer be mine.

By giving my son this woefully unsexy eight-year-old four cylinder, I believe I’ll reduce the Fast and Furious factor by, oh, I don’t know… about one hundred percent.  Not only does this brilliant strategy temper the teen male drive factor, but it also finally frees me up to do what I’ve been dreaming of for years: get back into a car that’s NOT AN AUTOMATIC!

Having been a stick-savvy, manual tranny driver for years, I’m not even sure how I wound up driving an automatic. One morning, I reached down for the stick, and… someone had stolen it!  Ever since, I’ve mourned the feeling of control and precision that comes with a good manual transmission.   Now, I finally get to make things right!

For those of you who’ve been there, you’ll know that once you start considering a car purchase, you can’t help but to look at everything through this prism.   For instance, the other day, I came across this headline from Advertising Age-

On-the-Fly Advertising Swiftly Becoming More Commonplace

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone reading the response threads facilitated by the ever-growing numbers of social media outlets.  These immediate, unfiltered streams of positive-negative response practically demand a heightened flexibility and more nimble approach to long-term campaigns.   Some marketers are embracing this new world and recalibrating on a rapid-fire basis:

…in a growing number of cases even the biggest marketers in the world, such as Procter & Gamble Co. and Unilever, are adjusting creative and media plans on the fly within days, weeks or even hours based on changing events or the shifting tides of social-media feedback.

Which brings me back to cars.   As I read this, I just can’t push all the driving jargon out of my mind.

Watch the RPMs.  Go from zero to sixty. Stop on a dime. Hang a quick right. Put it in high gear.  Gun it!

When I think of speed and handling, I think in terms of shifting: 1st - 5th, not P, R, N, D.    I want to feel the immediate response of an engine shifting gears at the optimum point.  I don’t want to passively sit back and wait as an automatic transmission thinks for me, hesitating and lazily working its way through the gears, robbing me of that extra bit of responsiveness and power I know I’d exact with a clutch and stick.   I want to speed up with full power as needed and I want to downshift without full dependence on the brakes.    This is what I want from a car and, come to think of it, very similar to what I’d demand of a good campaign:  the ability to shift on the fly with precise control and agility.  Mindless adherence to predetermined automatic shift thresholds is not an option.  Complete, immersive engagement is the key and, as with any good stick, I’d want to keep an eye on those dashboard gauges.  There’s tons of good data there!

By the way, if anyone knows of a good low-miles Miata for sale…

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2 Comments to “Which Are You, Stick or Automatic?”

  • A good PR plan, social media campaign or advertising plan changes to meet the needs of the company and the environment. I couldn't agree more … Wish I had a stick shift too ….

  • Great read Gary! still a lot of folks in automatic mode!

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