Every day, the public is inundated with automotive marketing messages on TV and billboards, in newspapers and magazines, on websites and radio stations and, of course, on social media.
As pervasive as these messages are, there is a strategic marketing plan for every new model that rolls off an assembly line — from compact sedans, crossover SUVs and pickups to luxury midsize sedans, sports coupes and muscle cars.
The marketing of a new model depends on the automaker, the vehicle’s classification and its target market. Based on my observations and experiences in the business, here is partial breakdown of what’s involved in marketing new models today:
1. Auto shows: Major auto shows provide a terrific venue for manufacturers to unveil new models. The shows are also used to introduce concept vehicles that are on the drawing board and being considered for production. Public reaction to concepts can exert a huge influence on whether a vehicle is approved or not.
2. Teaser photos: Automotive blogs and auto publications will often publish “spy” photos of new models just off the assembly line or on a test track. These vehicles are usually shrouded in secrecy, but this type of exposure can create considerable buzz ahead of an official launch.
3. Teaser ads: Automakers occasionally build anticipation for new models by releasing teaser ads before an official TV ad. For example, earlier this year, Mercedes-Benz released a teaser video on YouTube featuring supermodel Kate Upton, just days prior to the 2013 Super Bowl. The teaser ad generated more than 6 million views and the carmaker’s Super Bowl ad generated more than 12 million views.
4. Television: TV continues to play a critical role in the marketing of new models. According to Automotive News, “the 10 largest auto advertisers spent $6.25 billion on all kinds of TV commercials last year, up 7.3 per cent from 2011.” Despite the rise of social media and digital ad spending, TV ads still command the lion’s share of automotive advertising budgets.
5. Celebrity endorsements: Whether it’s tennis star Maria Sharapova serving as a brand ambassador for Porsche or singer Justin Timberlake appearing in commercials for Audi, celebrities and automakers have made for some intriguing partnerships over the years. When they work, these partnerships can boost a new model’s credibility and wow factor.
6. Livestreaming: Many automakers now use a livestream feed to broadcast model unveilings. While the official introduction is taking place, online audiences can watch the event unfold in a continuous stream on their PCs, tablets or mobile devices. Livestreaming events often coincide with an official press release (complete with description, photos and videos), posted on the automaker’s website.
7. Social media: All new-car launches now include a social media component to create awareness. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, DealerRater and Pinterest are among the well-known platforms used to engage with audiences before, during and after a model launch.
8. Dealer advertising: After a model has been launched nationally, dealerships will ramp up their marketing and advertising on a local level. New-car unveilings (often by special invitation), direct-mail, company newsletters, newspaper ads, radio spots and dedicated websites are some of the resources that dealers use to promote new models.
9. Reviews: Once a new model has been launched, automakers and dealers will hope that it generates positive reviews from auto journalists, consumer groups, review websites and research firms. The evaluations and opinions of the automotive community carry tremendous weight and can help influence the success or failure of a model.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means. But it does give you an idea of the marketing journey that a new model takes from the assembly line to the showroom.
This column represents the views of TADA. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit tada.ca. Benny Leung, president of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, is a new-car dealer in the GTA
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