Friday, January 6, 2012

Record Breaking US Auto Sales Despite Lackluster Advertising

The big news is that December 2011 was a banner month for the auto industry and led to a year of growth for most car manufacturers.  With the exception of Toyota and Honda,  suffering from earthquake-related supply problems since March, December set records for most of the major auto makers.    Consumers have held onto their older cars and the holiday deals were the tipping point for many to trade in. This is still a great sign for the US economy.
Automakers have now planted themselves firmly in the December holiday period as the new “must have” item.   However, the advertising for the holiday was lackluster for the most part according to experts and surveys. Most automakers were touting year-end clearance incentives, sign and drive programs, etc. to incent sales.  Few had breakthrough branding campaigns.  With December such an important month there is now much at risk if the creative is lacking punch.  The Super Bowl ads of last year were terrific - strong brand building and very creative.  This is what the industry should have been taken into the December period. 
Here are my favorite December car ads.
Chrysler - Chrysler’s sales were reportedly up +37% and were the best monthly retail sales in 4 years and best sales overall since May 2008. The flagship Chrysler 300 had the most creative approach bringing a sense of hope and spirit that still lives in Detroit.  After all, rooting for Detroit is now like rooting for all of us.
Chrysler–Good Things Dr. Dre

Hyundai - After last year’s “Pomplomouse” holiday commercial, Hyundai dialed up a infectiously cute new music phenomenon – Jessica Fetch  - who pens her own ad lyrics.  The company sales were up +13% in December versus a year ago.
Jessica Fetch–Hyundai
Volkswagen  - VW reported that December sales were up +26% versus year ago with its best December since 1972! The Jetta paved the way with a reduced price, and “Signthendrive” program. This program was well well illustrated in this humorous spot.
Lexus  - The Lexus holiday approach is starting to feel really tired.  Putting a bow on a Lexus in the driveway Christmas morning is a bit out of place for today’s frugal consumer.  Lexus played down the extravagance by featuring its smallest model cars with the big red bow.   Toyota sales overall were down -2% and Lexus off-8% – mostly due to the supply problems resulting from the earthquake last March.
Lexus–December to remember
Acura  - The upscale Honda brand took their shot at the Lexus red bow extravagance using Bette Midler wearing an outrageous red costumer and singing carols.  Honda, declined –18% in December with Acura off –19%.  Supply problems due to the March Earthquake still affect Honda.
Bette Midler for Acura
Cant wait for the Super Bowl.  Any other favorites?  Let me know.

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