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Julia Manoukian


May 25, 2018

3 Must-Read Automobile Marketing Developments for Spring 2018

Julia Manoukian

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Spring is in full swing, and there are thousands of motor shows taking place across the United States this season. If you're planning your next automobile marketing campaign, keep an ear to the ground for the latest news in the experiential space — a recent trend could inspire your next live event. Here are three of the hottest automotive marketing developments that you need to know about right now.

1. Nissan Canada Educates Motorists With Their Latest Campaign

Car manufacturer Nissan Canada is test-driving brand new intelligent mobile technologies to better engage with consumers, according to Strategy. They've teamed up with agency partner Juniper Park/TBWA for Legendary Stories, a new cross-platform ad campaign that coincides with the launch of their Nissan Qashqai vehicle. The goal? To educate motorists on how to navigate the most difficult of driving conditions.

The campaign, of course, is promotional as well as educational. Nissan Canada is positioning itself as the company that solves everyday problems on the road. In one ad, its semi-autonomous driving system, ProPilot Assist, helps a father cruise a congested road with heavy traffic.

“We’re trying to hyperbolize everyday situations that people would come across in a bold and dramatic way,” Steve Rhind, Nissan Canada's director of marketing, told Strategy. "What we’re trying to do here is a little bit more in the reality space.”

The Legendary Stories campaign will extend into social media, helping Nissan Canada reach a digital-savvy audience.

You, too, could create a campaign that educates your audience. Focus on a pain point that your customers experience — for Nissan Canada, it was disgruntled drivers stuck in traffic — and showcase a feature of your product or service that provides a solution. It certainly worked for Nissan Canada. Their ad has received more than 5,000 views in less than three weeks.

2. How Subaru Transitioned From Niche Brand to a Major Player in the Automobile Industry

Making the transition from a niche brand to a mainstream company is a challenge. Automobile manufacturer Subaru Canada, however, which celebrated their 40th anniversary this year, made the leap with ease. The company has positioned itself as a reliable car brand, with a focus on safety. This helped the organization differentiate itself from its competitors — and the risk paid off.

"Subaru continues to sponsor endurance events such as the Ironman and generally makes the most of its outdoorsy image, but you mostly see Subies in the suburbs," says the Globe and Mail.

The company has also targeted untapped markets, such as the LGBTQ community: "In the United States, Subaru was cautious about the move, fearing a backlash from mainstream consumers," says Globe and Mail writer Brendan McAleer. "They also knew they needed to offer genuine advancements, such as domestic-partnership support for Subaru’s gay and lesbian employees."

What lessons can you learn from Subaru's success? Focusing on untapped customer segments and one or two product benefits can help you stand out from the crowd. You can apply this to your future experiential campaigns, too. Instead of throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks, be specific with your marketing. As a result, you could generate more sign-ups, customers and sales.

3. Ford Reviews Its Global Creative Account

British car manufacturer Ford has placed its global creative account in review, according to a recent article from AdAge. The brand is evaluating its marketing strategies as it makes $14 billion in cost savings over the next five years. Advertising and PR company WPP, which has served as Ford's agency of record, currently holds the account and has worked with the automobile brand since 1943.

"Ford is one of WPP's most important accounts," says AdAge. "The automaker is the nation's ninth-largest advertiser, shelling out $2.3 billion in 2016, according to the Ad Age Datacenter. Globally, Ford reported advertising costs in 2016 of $4.3 billion or 2.83 percent of total revenue."

Volkswagen also announced an agency review last month. (Deutsch Los Angeles has held the company's account since 2009.) “Yes, we will build an agency powerhouse for each region in order to be prepared for the future,” a spokesperson for the Volkswagen's North American division told the media. “We’ve spent far too much money on paid media in the past, we want to change that.” This echoes other automobile companies. Research shows that digital media will influence 70 percent of all auto sales by the year 2020.

You might not have a creative budget the size of Ford or Volkswagen, but reviewing your agency partnerships might benefit you in the long run. Alternatively, work with your partners to identify weaknesses in your current marketing model and develop new strategies for the future. This will help you fine-tune your marketing for your next live event.

Nissan Canada, Subaru and Ford are three automobile manufacturers that have positioned themselves as market leaders through clever marketing campaigns that provide consumers with real value. You can do the same. If you're planning a live event, educate your audience, reach the right demographics, focus on specific product features and benefits, and consider reviewing your agency partnerships.Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Digital Auto Show Best Practices [Checklist]

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