In a recent AdAge article, Rance Crain created a stir by asking the question, "Is there any correlation between the rapidly eroding fortunes of the Big Three auto companies and their consistently terrible advertising? U.S. makers generate some of the worst examples." He went on to point out Buick's "ungrammatical ad slogan" for its new SUV. The slogan "Drive Beautiful" is the carmaker's fifth attempt at a slogan-that-sticks since 2001.
Crain continued. "Maybe what's missing most in Detroit advertising is trustworthiness -- a feeling that you can depend on the product and its maker. Good brands give you a sense of dependability, of reliance, of knowing what you're going to get."
For those of us who live, breathe, eat and sleep automotive advertising, we know the answer to Crain's question simply isn't that cut-and-dry.
In recent months, Hyundai -- a brand that has had some issues with its reputation throughout the years -- has launched a new advertising campaign. You've probably seen or heard the company's "Duh" ads in traditional media, but the web version kicks it up a notch by creating a fun, engaging and, at times, tongue-in-cheek approach to the not-so-great traditional automotive sales advertising floating around out there.
"The Big Duh Sales Event" is distributed via national and spot broadcast, newspapers and interactive advertising. Not only does Hyundai and its agencies pay attention to the ins-and-outs of traditional media, but they also "get it" when it comes to the web's ability to take a campaign to another whole level. The online campaign allows consumers to take a stab at song writing by allowing them the opportunity to create their own "Duh" jingle, which leverages the web's playful accessibility and interactivity.
Take a look at the Hyundai campaign as it appears on NADAguides.com. It fully utilizes the expandable real estate available within this homepage dropdown unit, and this canvas provides an immersive, enjoyable experience that is available while remaining within the NADAguides.com homepage environment.
The theme' intention is to entertain car buyers with catchy classical songs; then, in a non-obtrusive way, it demonstrates just how smart Hyundai's rebates and financing programs are. Notice the positioning too (home page/upper funnel): a perfect location for a sales event of this nature.
Troy Snyder, director of marketing at NADAguides.com, weighs in on the campaign's success.
"Hyundai's recent 'Duh' campaign is the essence of an enticing, interactive piece that not only utilizes emerging technologies, but one that draws the audience deeper into the experience. The campaign does more than just reflect the brand's strengthening image; it involves the audience like very few competitive campaigns do, which is refreshing to see."
Hyundai has dialed in on its marketing efforts, and as a result, its reputation and loyalty among car buyers has significantly improved. Today, the brand is arguably good looking, complete with great warranties (in addition to its well-rounded line-up that goes head-to-head with competing luxury brands). Hyundai has real potential to be an upscale sister to Kia, much like Lexus is to Toyota.
For the marketing-minded, we all know advertising can change perception. It can improve reputation. It can build loyalty. It can inspire and motivate. It can entice and captivate its audience with a specific call-to-action in mind…when done correctly. But no matter how well-executed an advertising campaign might be, it simply cannot change the fundamental quality or reliability of a product.
Successful advertising isn't vacuum packed. It's intrinsically tied to -- and fundamentally affected by -- the quality of the product it's designed to showcase. At the same time, just because a brand's quality lags behind its competition doesn't necessarily mean it will never reap the benefits of a well-executed, well-defined, uniquely creative 'creative'… like Duh!
Chad M. Beasley is VP of marketing at Jumpstart Automotive Media. .