Team O’Neil Rally School

Team O’Neil Rally School has released a new promotional video giving a quick overview of their outstanding facility and rally school programs. If you haven’t yet checked them out I highly recommend you do so — I’ve attended multiple Team O’Neil rally and safety programs over the past few years and it’s drastically improved both my performance driving skills and overall driving ability!

I can recall of two or three incidents at Maine Forest Rally 2005 that, without Team O’Neil’s excellent training, I literally would have found myself off in the weeds.

P0325 Knock Sensor Circuit Malfunction

After quite a few months of ignoring a P0136 O2 Sensor Circuit Malfunction I finally replaced the front and rear O2 sensors on the Trunkmonkey Pink Impreza. Three miles into the post-installation test drive the car immediately threw a P0325 Knock Sensor Circuit Malfunction. Go figure. I was being punished for something.

A new knock sensor and liberal cleaning of the block didn’t solve the problem. Eight miles into the post-installation test drive the car threw a P0325 again. Cleared the code, went for another test drive, threw a code. This went on for a few days of adjusting torque (17.4 ft-lbs), clearing the code, and taking test drives. I finally ended up giving up and asking for help which gave me some more info but didn’t help solve the problem.

I acquired a second new knock sensor and, this time, the ECU threw a code immediately after starting the car. No test drive. Just threw a code every time. In disgust I decided to give up on the knock sensor and I replaced the PCV valve which was on my todo list anyway. Just for shits and grins I cleared the code and went out for a test drive. No code. WTF?

So it appears that for some odd reason replacing the PCV valve may have solved the knock sensor issue. Perhaps my grungy old PCV valve with over a hundred thousand miles on it was causing some sort of flutter or harmonic that the knock sensor was picking up? Who knows; all I know is I successfully got the car inspected the next day.

Going ape over Tomkinson ads

Despite the originality of the opening ceremonies and the thrill of the downhill, the thing I remember most vividly about last month’s Olympic Games had nothing to do with athletic competition.

I can’t stop giggling about those silly Tomkinson trunk monkey commercials.

Have you seen them?

There are two ads playing now. In the first, a woman is pulled over for speeding. When it’s clear the officer intends to write her a ticket, she presses a button and a monkey hops out of the trunk of her car. First, he offers the patrolman a fistful of cash. When the officer shakes his head, the monkey pulls a secret weapon from behind his back: a doughnut!

In the final scene, the monkey forlornly looks out from the squad car’s back window as he’s being driven away to lockup.

The second ad, which I’ve seen only once, shows a trunk monkey kicking out the back seat of a stolen car and forcing the thief to pull over. The monkey drags the culprit out of the car to the railing of a bridge and throws him over, reclaiming the car for his owner.

Rick Tomkinson, owner of Tomkinson Automotive Group, believes most car dealers’ ads have left the public “shell shocked” from the barrage of gimmicks and come-ons.

Tim Borne, chairman of Asher Agency, agrees.

“Car dealers do bad advertising, as a rule,” he said.

Tomkinson wants to distance himself from the pack. “We want to give people a chuckle and hope they’ll come in and give us a try,” he said.

The idea, he said, is to increase his 30-year-old Fort Wayne-based company’s name recognition. Tomkinson sells Dodges and BMWs at 929 Avenue of Autos and Chryslers and Jeeps at 4801 Coldwater Road.

Making TV commercials can be expensive – a real hurdle for small- and mid-sized local retailers. But placing your name on one that’s a canned spot – one that can be personalized by a number of companies in different markets – can allow a business to run ads with better production values.

“It could allow you to look bigger than you are,” said John Ferguson, president and principal of Ferguson Advertising.

That’s the case here. Car dealerships in two other markets are running the same series of ads, which were designed by R/West, a West Coast agency, Tomkinson said. It’s the same agency that does those Career Builder.com ads that show a frustrated guy working at a company surrounded by a bunch of monkeys. Now, I know you’ve seen those clever commercials.

“Local or national, it’s tough to stand out,” Ferguson said. But, he added, a good concept can be the launching pad for a memorable ad, even without a big budget.

The trunk monkey ads have made an impression on Ferguson. They’ve also caught the eye of Chad Stuckey, founder and president of Brand Innovation Group.

His team gathers Monday mornings to dissect the commercials they remember seeing over the previous weekend. The real test of a good spot is whether viewers can remember what it was selling.

“Good humor’s hard to pull off,” Stuckey said. “Those (trunk monkey) ads make me laugh every time I see them. But will it make me go out and buy a car? I don’t know.”

Borne, of Asher Agency, said that although Dodge customers might get a kick out of the monkey, “For a BMW buyer, is that the image you want?”

I can’t afford a BMW, so I don’t know. I just know what’s funny. And so does Tomkinson. He thinks the ads’ tone will at least distinguish his dealership. The advertising guys I consulted say it’s tough to gauge commercials’ effectiveness without conducting focus groups before and after. Most of the results are measured anecdotally.

Tompkinson’s showrooms are seeing more customer traffic in recent weeks, although the owner concedes that consumer interest tends to take an upturn as winter ends and spring arrives. Still, those ads are making an impression.

“There’s no question it’s going to raise our name as the one company that’s not screaming at (customers),” he said.

There’s no question that I’m thinking Tomkinson. But I bought a new car only a few months ago. Do you think he’d sell me just the monkey?

Source: The Journal Gazette
Byline: Sherry Slater