>Walter Koschnitzke has touched a nerve with me in his Branding Ad Vice blog. His latest post on auto advertising is basically what I’ve felt for more than 20 years. In my comment, I write that I feel automotive dealers, as a group, are the most fearful marketers on the planet.
Hyperbole? Maybe. But I can count on two fingers the number of auto retailers in central Iowa that have tried to be different, inviting and relevant in the past 20 years. And one of those was a one-time shot that was soon replaced by spots screaming prices.
The other is Karl Chevrolet. If you’ve seen a Karl Chevrolet television spot, you know it’s a little like a lot of others because it features the owner, in this case Carl Moyer, and his family, but Karl spots look better than other car commercials. They focus on the Karl Chevrolet experience and the things the dealer does to make that experience something different. Sometimes the ads feature family members, like this one from this past Christmas season. Even it tells a story in an unexpected manner. The rest of the Karl experience is different, too. The company extended Chevy’s “Like a rock” theme by placing a huge rock at its entrance and perching a vehicle at the top (see the website header). The dealership features a golf hole (bring your clubs) and a walking trail (bring your walking shoes) in case you need to think before you sign that paper for a $45,000 SUV. And, perhaps most important, they feature convenient services hours six days a week – Monday through Thursday, 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. – and have round-trip shuttle service! That’s different, inviting and relevant.
Karl, the dealership, takes chances like its owner, Carl, a race car driver. Maybe more dealers ought to drive race cars before they try to sell sedans.