Porsche: The Cayenne Launch
Can an online discussion forum supply insight into the evolution of brand meaning? In 2003 Porsche launched a sport utility vehicle, dividing Porsche purists from newcomers to the brand. Vocal members of online and offline Porsche communities ridiculed the Cayenne SUV and disapproved of the new breed of driver. Some opposed offering Porsche Club membership to them, and some even refused to extend the fraternal Porsche "wave" or headlight flashing to them on the road. Porsche's values of speed, luxury, and a certain masculine zeal resonated strongly with its devotees, while drivers of the Cayenne (which came to be known as "the SUV for soccer moms") tended to be safety-conscious, family-oriented, and conservative. Evolving debates on forums allow a class to debate whether the brand had strayed too far from its core values and was at risk.