New car ads don’t add up


On a recent trip to America I got slightly side-tracked, paying more attention to the car dealers’ and their newspaper ad’s than the reason we flew across the Atlantic (something my other-half suggested I go to therapy for). Normally I would be trying to catch a sneaky glimpse of any passing eye-candy but when you work in the motor trade you can’t help but look at the four-wheeled variety. It all started with a fetish for reading car number plates just to see which garage they were sold from. Ridiculous I know, but every time I go to another country, there I am gorping at all that is automotive.

Thing is with America, although we here in Blighty might tut and point, our American cousins lap up car dealers’ ads like a thirsty Chihuahua on a hot day. Take T.V advertising, for example. Sure, they have more channels than you can throw a 32-inch pizza at, but it’s the humorous length they’ll go to that makes me wonder why we don’t try something similar over here. Take ‘Bobs Buick Centre’. Bob and his trusty lot of 200 used Buicks seem to rake in more viewers than an O.J Simpson trial. See, his motto is “sell them low and knock ’em out”. Bobs ‘Buy a Buick for a Buck’ campaign is pure genius. OK, Buicks have only slightly more appeal than walking around naked, but buying one for a Dollar? Who wouldn’t?

I wonder who would take a stab at something similar over here. What I’ve noticed more than anything is the lack of imagination. Every car ad is generally the same. Sure, the deals on offer are sometimes too good to miss, but would someone in the marketing departments please have a sense of adventure? An average spend for a manufacturer on advertising in one year is estimated at £12 million pounds. Manufacturers budget around £80 million worldwide. Some have pulled stunts like sticking a car to a billboard, or dropping a model from a helicopter. But really?

I’ve been thinking about this, and I may have the answer. If the Americans can take the ‘Mick out of themselves, why can’t we do the same thing? I reckon that we should hit the country with a spell of car-dealer rhyming-slang. You know, the phrases that we just don’t hear anymore.

What we need is a breath of fresh air in car advertising. I might jab the Yanks, but they certainly know how to get your attention. Even their new car ads are pretty much spot-on, far more eye-catching than our bland blunders. Brands like BMW, Ford, Honda, Mercedes Benz, all approach their advertising in a completely different way, even for identical models sold here and over in the States. All we need is one car dealer, or manufacturer to start the ball rolling. I know that some have “slightly” raised the bar in the past, but no one has really gone for it. A car made entirely of um…cake…anyone?

I wonder what the punters would think. I’m pretty sure the more adventurous we could be, the more appeal would be generated. All the motor industry seems to do is cling onto bland tag-lines and awful, nonsense phrases. Has anyone spotted the Fiat 500 tag-line? Oh, dear.

What gets me is all the top brass sitting in the boardroom trying to think of something creative. Some bright spark speaks up and puts a suggestion forward: ‘Small car, big ideas?’ Splendid Jones, now let’s spend our million pound budget on this utterly pointless tag-line. Beers’ on me!

I wonder how long it will be before we see a change. If you have any suggestion, please send them in on a postcard. Oh, by the way, keep it clean.


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