Automotive marketing – marketing in general, really – fascinates me. I have a business degree with a focus on marketing and spent many years studying the commercial machine of capitalism, along with the psychology behind getting you to buy. The whole thing is extremely thought-provoking (such as Mike Rowe) and often more than a little spooky. Such as a penis with warts …
Working the auto show floor gives me an intimate look at how each automotive company tweaks their experiential marketing plan every year. [Not to be confused with the more commonplace experimental marketing plan, ED.] Experiential marketing means you come and take part in it, as opposed to watching a commercial on TV. It can be an auto show, a ride and drive event, or a presence at a sponsored event like a concert, game, fashion show, festival, etc.
One of my favorite parts of each new auto show season is seeing how manufacturers have integrated their auto show presence – experiential marketing – with their other marketing efforts, specifically television and print advertising.
For example, Kia. While I still can’t get over the sex-toy-disguised-as-a-children’s-cartoon-character, they did well by placing cardboard cutouts of all the fun toys in that Super Bowl commercial. Attendees love taking pictures with the cutouts which are conveniently placed right next to a vehicle. Every photo of a character also has a Kia in it. Bam! Extra brand impression in your brain. I heard that someone tried to steal the sock monkey at the Chicago show, they loved it so much. It wasn’t me, I swear. (I couldn’t fit it in my purse.)
Toyota’s Avalon Lounge has a swingy retro feel that coordinates well with their new 40’s style Avalon commercials, while “Sultry Sienna” sung in front of the popular minivan complements the Swagger Wagon campaign. If they start rapping at the show next year I will die.
Since fire seems to be the new thing, though, perhaps they could recreate the Tundra commercial featuring the truck hauling a huge payload up a flaming Spiral of Death. Might need some outdoor real estate for that one, but everyone loves a nice fire.
But not everything would translate well between commercials and real life. Some of this stuff would totally wig me out. Like the Ford robot. I’m scared enough of that thing in a brightly-lit convention center. The last thing my sensitive nerves need is to be woken up at 3 AM by the laser eyes of that freaky thing in a commercial on TV. Imagine the nightmares.
Conversely, however, if Ford decided to bring my future baby daddy Mike Rowe to the auto show I would be happy to experientially market myself in his direction all day long. You want to get and keep a bunch of female car buyers in your display, Ford? Bring Mike Rowe. Trust me on this one. Brand impression galore. Put his voice in the SYNC system and women will bum rush Ford dealerships.
VW and their new spin on the punch buggy game is another one. I love the Stevie Wonder moment, but this just wouldn’t translate well at the auto show. Your entire visit in the VW booth would be one giant bruise. It would turn into a mosh pit. There would be blood all over their pretty white floor.
By the way, I’m just letting you know that if you meet me in person and you punch me because you see a Jetta, I’m going to slash your tires. Fair warning.
What are your favorite car commercials? How do you think they would translate at the auto show?
The Booth Babe is an anonymous auto show model who dishes about what really goes on behind the scenes. Read her blog at http://doyoucomewiththecar.blogspot.com. And if you treat her nicely, read her each Sunday at Thetruthaboutcars.com