Q&A: Coda Chief Marketer Kerri Martin


What will the car sell for and is it a single model to start?
Single model. And we will be announcing some pricing probably after some time in the first quarter. I know there is some pricing out there, but that is not the pricing. . . . It will probably be significantly below the $45,000 that has been reported. That's not accurate.

A sedan, right?
It's a four-seat, four-door, midsize sedan.

In their pitch, how did Goodness' executives bring their ideas to life?
The one thing I know about those guys -- I have a slight history with many of them -- is that there's never a shortage of ideas. That's for sure. One of the things that's really impressive about their work is they really do know how to root it back to the customer insights. Also, the "Truth" brand [they worked on at Crispin] was a lot about creating a movement. It was a cause-marketing brand. So, they bring a lot of that thinking and discipline to the table, which is really important in the acceleration of the all-electric car era.

Your familiarity with the Goodness principals helped put them on your pitch list, right?
Of course. This business is about two things: people and ideas. So, there is oftentimes when you have that chemistry with someone a shorthand that you can speak.

What put Pereira & O'Dell on your list?
They actually had come recommended to me through a mutual friend of ours. [They are] incredibly impressive. They also have the new agency model. They don't look at creative in silos. It's all about the idea. And this is one . . . key for any agency that we were going to be working with: it's about the idea, being media agnostic and figuring out where do you take that idea to best fit it into the marketplace.

How cognizant were you with Goodness' talks with Trailer Park, which led to Trailer Park acquiring the agency last month?
We started talking to them way before there were any talks, way before we were brought into the loop of any Trailer Park discussions. But when the concept was introduced to us, I'd have to say it was pretty impressive. For me, that represents the new agency model and one that is really interesting. . . . Goodness' model matches our need as a startup to be really smart and agile all at the same time. I love the fact that they can move fast with creative and production [capabilities] all under one roof.

Is it unlikely that you'll do TV, given that Coda is a startup?
Who knows? I am open to all the possibilities. I just felt that there were a few key, key areas for us and they are digital and social, experiential, PR and the fourth one is owner advocacy -- just creating an amazing customer experience full-on.

What was it that drew you to the Coda CMO job?
The first thing the Mini launch taught me is that I really loved the blank slate, having the green field opportunity to create a brand from scratch. That was really a key factor for me. The other thing is I wanted to take the skill set that I've built over the last 17 years and do something good for the world. And this is the perfect opportunity to do that. I have to admit, I have said, 'No more cars. I've had enough." The fact that I could actually create a car brand from scratch and do something good for the world was very attractive.