Time for acts, not ads in automotive advertising

August 6, 2008 at 11:57 am Leave a comment

We stumbled upon an AdWeek article by Gregory Solman which talks about a study by Todd Turner, examining car sales number correlations to ad spend. The study finds out that there seems to be none.

Says the article:

Example: Despite healthy ad spending and incentives on the relatively new Chevrolet Silverado—marketed by Interpublic Group’s Campbell-Ewald in Warren, Mich.—the vehicle lost roughly 1 percent market share in the large-truck segment. General Motors spent $240 million on ads for that vehicle alone last year and $85 million through May, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

In contrast, sales of the barely marketed Ford Ranger—which gets perhaps $100,000 in annual ad support through WPP Group’s JWT—has made a 4 percent gain in its segment through June in the flat compact-pickup class.

Turners concludes: No amount of marketing can make up for product that isn’t competitive in its segment.”

I believe this to be true. Of course, even great advertising can’t always sell a bad product. But is the Ford Ranger really more competitive, or are there other (seemingly random) factors at play?

There is something to be said about how marketing budgets are actually spent. There is a prevalent automatism to open the marketing toolbox and spend your budget on purely ads and conventional incentive promotions or other things. Doing that, it gets harder and harder to make pure share of voice work for you these days. Nowadays, where there is no more market for messaging, and where people’s are bombarded with 3500 messages a day on average, an approach of couching your product and brand with in the context of peoples’ lives and their behavior is a much better choice.

However, such an approach requires looking at people not just as demographic and typological milieus, but their behavior and contexts across all phases of their automotive customer life cycle. The type of insights you glean can help you understand what the brand can do to be part of people’s lives, as opposed to making people buy your product by hitting them over the head with it. Also, once you realize that a brand can genuinely own a human pupose, it also requires the guts to leave behind the marketing toolbox thinking and rather start addressing pain points and joy points of people’s experiences.


Entry filed under: Experience, humankind, Insights & Strategy. Tags: , , .

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