Holiday car ads fail to impress consumers


In spite of the introduction of more than 150 new ads plugging new models and holiday promotions, automotive advertisers have experienced a lukewarm reception from U.S. consumers in Q4, according to Ace Metrix, an authority in television advertising effectiveness.

The company, which revealed lists of the most effective luxury and non-luxury automotive ads to break so far this quarter, found Q4 ads from Chevrolet to be a notable exception, leading the non-luxury automotive category in effectiveness—a category that performed far better than its luxury counterpart. This trend is a departure from last year when luxury brands out-performed non-luxury brands in effectiveness.

“Consumers tend to dislike sales event promotional ads, yet this year many brands opted for this type of messaging instead of better-performing, more creative brand/product messaging,” said Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix. “The result is the disappointing performance of many of the nearly 35 holiday-themed automotive ads to break so far this season. Case in point: it’s astounding that four of the ‘Top 10’ luxury automotive ads were below norm– a clear signal that many automotive brands have stepped away from good creative this season and fallen back on ‘Buy it now, you idiot’ messaging wrapped up in sales events and bows.”

Verbatim quotes from consumers who were surveyed included: “It’s the Christmas car bow ad…I think advertisers should know we’re tired of these and they should do something else…” “How many times are car companies going to show a car as a Christmas gift?…It makes me NOT want to buy [from them].”

Lexus, a brand typically in the Top 10 creative rankings, was conspicuously absent this quarter. Last year, the brand had more brand/product ads and had an average Ace Score of 584. This year, Lexus geared its creative toward holiday-themed sales event ads (“December to Remember”), resulting in a 14 percent drop in their average Ace Score to 504 – well below norm for the luxury automotive category.

One consumer said of the Lexus ads, “People don’t buy other people cars, and even if they did, do you think hearing one annoying jingle would really clue them into the fact they were getting a new car? No!”

On a positive note, luxury brands like Cadillac, Audi and Mercedes-Benz got their holiday messages right with Ace Scores above the norm. In addition, ads longer than the standard 30 seconds dominated both lists.

“One trend we are seeing a lot of is what we’re calling ‘the return of story-telling’—longer spots that allow a brand to tell a story,” Daboll commented. “Chevy’s top-ranking ads are a great example of this, as is the top-ranking Thomas Keller BMW ad.”

Most Effective TV Ads for Non-Luxury Automotive, Q4 To Date*

Brand       Ad Title       Air Date       Overall Ace Score       (+ / -) NORM
Chevrolet       For The First Hundred Years :60       10/19/2011       633      
Chevrolet       Man Gets Old Car Back       11/06/2011       632      
Hyundai Non-Luxury Auto       Easy On The Eyes As On The Environment       12/02/2011       629      
Chevrolet       Fast Food Workers Argue Over Car       10/19/2011       616      
Mitsubishi Non-Luxury Auto       Welcome To The New Normal       10/10/2011       597      
Volkswagen       Peace Of Mind Of Owning Top Safety Pick       10/01/2011       593      
Ford       Mike Rowe: Big Tire Sale       10/03/2011       592      
Ford       Mike Rowe At The Mall– Holiday       11/05/2011       586      
Honda       To Each Their Own       10/24/2011       583      
Toyota       It’s Ready; Are You?       10/14/2011       582      
Toyota       Newest Member–Prius       10/31/2011       582      

Most Effective Luxury Automotive TV Ads, Q4 To Date*

Brand       Ad Title       Air Date       Overall Ace Score       (+ / -) NORM
BMW       Commitment To Excellence – Thomas Keller       10/04/2011       601      
Cadillac       Season’s Best Event: Reindeers– Holiday       11/12/2011       583      
Audi       New Tradition– Holiday       11/14/2011       573      
Mercedes-Benz       Santa’s Choice– Holiday       11/09/2011       565      
Infiniti       Snowball– Winter       11/14/2011       563      
Cadillac       Season’s Best Event: Gift On Hood– Holiday       11/12/2011       557      
Infiniti       A Snowball Clears A Parking Space–Winter       11/06/2011       551       Norm
Lincoln Luxury Auto       Fuel Efficient Luxury Car: Paul Hochman       10/13/2011       541      
Jaguar       It Makes Luxury More Exciting       10/07/2011       541      
Infiniti       Avalanche–Winter       11/14/2011       541