Wednesday, August 13, 2008

If car advertising is so meaningless, why is there so much of it?

I remember working for the arm of a car financing company who wanted to understand the entire car-buying process from start to finish.

After weeks of research it become abundantly clear that initial impressions and interest generated by advertising were trumped by personal search, peer recommendations and plain old stubborn loyalty to the brand you already had.

Which makes it even more surprising that most car advertising is deal focused - treating the process as if it's an impulse buy. Sort of like picking up a six-pack of coke at the local supermarket in a 2-for-1 promo.

This deal-focused ad spam mentality has to be sustained by some type of industry insider myth - it just doesn't seem like it should work. And it wouldn't surprise me if it doesn't given the ridiculously inaccurate ways companies tend to measure the ROI of TV spend.

I am mentioning this now as the current oil-price woes have spurred a whole new round of deal spamming car ads that try to convince consumers something that gets 20mpg on the highway is somehow a good investment. As if being top 5 in class for 3-row SUV's with 4-cylinder engines and red bumpers is somehow a meaningful point of differentiation.

Maybe it's because I am watching the Olympics and hence more TV than normal that I am noticing this. Just like I am now noticing the spam ads from my own cable company that try and get me to buy their new Triple-Play package that somehow miraculously costs less per month than the Double-Play package I have. As I have no interest in the additional phone service, these ads are a constant reminder of how badly they are riping me off.

TV advertising is such a waste of time.

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