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Evolving marketing in the automotive industry

By Jonathan Gilpin, Lookers

With an annual turnover rate of £82 billion and an employer of over 186,000 people in the manufacturing process, along with an additional 700,000 in other aspects, the automotive industry is huge. 

In addition, the stability the automotive industry creates for the UK economy is substantial, considering the industry alone accounts for 12% of UK good exports. 

But marketing investments for businesses in the automotive industry are usually rather costly. Although there are occasions when we are driving past a car showroom and a shiny new Ford Kuga Titanium catches our eye, it is a rarity in 2019.

For those among us that try and suggest they aren’t sucked in by an utterly fantastic marketing campaign — they are telling a fib. 

Product placement is one aspect certain brands choose to focus on. Fans of popular evening soap Coronation Street helped the hashtag #roysrolls trend after the show replaced Roy’s standard coffee with the alternative, big brand Costa Coffee. 

Alternatively, some businesses have become rather symbols of festive periods, such as John Lewis and their annual Christmas TV adverts. In 2018, the campaign paid tribute to British music cult hero, Elton John. 

The popstar is shown to be playing his rather ironically named song Your Song in a modernized, up to date rendition of it in front of a packed-out concert hall. Travelling through time, letting the audience act as witness to the variety of eras in which the song has been played, it finished with a young Elton playing his first piano. 

If you think about it, none of John Lewis’s adverts in recent years have had any relation to the brand itself, however this clever subtle trick does get you thinking of their brand. 

The overriding purpose of a marketing campaign is to make it stick in your mind and most importantly remember who delivered it. For the remainder of the festive period, the British public were driving to work and doing the dishes, humming the tune to Your Song, and when they were, they were thinking about John Lewis. 

The launch of a new product is crucial. Despite the fact an all-singing, all-dancing media campaign will not be enough to mask the incompetency of a below par product, an impressive one accompanying a genuinely capable product will succeed in boosting sales. 

Here with Lookers and their new Ford Kuga Titanium, we take a look at the way car manufacturers invest in the launch of new products, and whether they opt for a subtle or direct approach. 

The true meaning behind Va Va Voom

Despite a slow start back in 2002, Thierry Henry’s career with the Gunners gradually begun to take off. 

Having two premier league trophies and being top goal scorer in two seasons for his club wasn’t bad titles to add to his name. However, breaking the hearts of Manchester United fans wasn’t the only job Henry had on his hands, or shall we say, feet. Thierry had been tasked by French manufacturer Renault to find the true meaning of ‘va va voom’. 

In the past, the Clio has commonly been associated with being a feminine car, however after the striker was seen driving the car in the advert this helped draw attention away from this stereotype and the physical attributes or capabilities of the car itself. Instead, it took a young, rather dashing sporting icon, and delivered a stylish message to the masses — the Clio is for everyone. 

It’s suggested by marketers that after doing something once, the concept loses its initial appeal. In the case of Henry, Renault were clearly so impressed with his performance at the helm, they drafted him back in to chip in with the 2019 Premier League season adverts on Sky Sports. 

A car you could eat: Fabia Sponge 

Rumor has it that after the release of the greatest automotive TV advert of all time, every day Skoda offices have a slice of cake in tribute to it. 

It’s not often you would look at a car and think “that looks tasty”, regardless of how pleasing to the eye it is. 

Eight master bakers teamed together to create a life-size cake in the shape of their Fabia vehicle for their 2007 advert. Madeira cake, Battenberg, Rice Krispies, chocolate fingers, and oil, in the form of golden syrup, were all moulded together to create undeniably one of the most expensive cakes of all time. 

It took the equivalent cost of 62 Skoda Fabia’s to create the cake for the Czech car manufacturer. Tragically, by the time the icing and filming had been complete, most of the edible aspects of the cake had perished. 

Despite the marzipan alternative, this approach did largely center around the actual car itself, in comparison to the Renault. Accompanied by Julie Andrews’ My Favourite Things, the advert watches the chefs at work, creating an utter masterpiece. 

It’s great when things just work 

For their brand-new advert, Honda used the rhetorical statement of ‘Isn’t it nice when things just work?’.

The advert that situates a Wallace and Gromit-style mechanism in a rather lengthy, desolate gallery is deemed one of the most visually intriguing piece of media contents of all time. 

This domino-effect style idea sees a variety of car parts collapse into one another causing them to fall and trigger the next element of the chain, leaving the audience sat in anticipation to see what the final falling aspect is going to be. 

Before the launch of their campaign, Honda’s sales in Europe had been rather unimpressive. The video however was incredibly well received, collecting a host of awards, including one at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. Honda sales, in turn, jumped by 28 per cent, and the monthly number of Honda branch visits rose from 3,500 to 3,700. 

After 4 days of filming, £1m and 606 takes later the Japanese manufacturers had finished their advert. Again, there was little of the video that focused on the vehicle itself however, the advert got engraved in the minds of its viewers. 

From a business perspective, you need to consider how much your marketing campaign is going to cost, how much you’re willing to invest and how beneficial it has the potential to be. 

Sources:

https://www.autotrader.co.uk/content/features/classic-ads-cake-skoda-fabia

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Ofcom warns of growing ‘cultural disconnect’

Telecoms regulator Ofcom has criticised Britain’s broadcasting companies for failing to adequately represent women, disabled and minority groups on television – with the BBC in particular criticised for failing to lead other broadcasters by example.

Ofcom warns of a ‘growing disconnect’ as older viewers and minority groups feel they aren’t getting their own fair share of TV time, and when they do they’re often portrayed in a negative manner.

Discussing the issue, chief executive Sharon White said: “The information we have is shocking. There is some woeful progress, especially for senior women, disabled people, and people from a black, Asian and minority ethnic background.”

White added that while 51% of the UK’s general population is female, just 39% of senior roles at the broadcasters are held by women.

Channel 5 owner Verizon has promised to offer 20 diverse young marketers full time employment through its fellowship employment programme, AdFellows. Participants in AdFellows will rotate into positions at Verizon, as well agencies including ZenithOptimedia, Rauxa and McCann Worldwide.