Traditional Advertising Still Brings in the Buyers

Television is still the No. 1 mass advertising solution for auto dealers, and a spokesperson can help

Photo: Celebrity spokesperson/Seattle Seahawk Michael Bennett for Larson Automotive in Tacoma, Washington

In our increasingly digital world, it’s easy to overlook some of the most effective advertising vehicles for selling cars.

Despite the increasing use of pay-per-click, banner advertising, social media, and video ads on the internet, plain old television is still the No. 1 mass advertising solution for auto dealers.

Depending on the size of your market, each television commercial will be seen by hundreds or even thousands of viewers. By choosing the programming carefully, you can target the right age demographic for the car you are advertising.

One of the drawbacks of traditional advertising, like television, radio, or newspaper, is that it lacks the metrics of online advertising. But one metric that online advertising lacks is sales.

Digital advertising can tell you how many impressions and how many clicks your website gets, but it becomes a little tougher when it comes time to tell you how many actual car sales happened. It can be done, but it requires careful tracking of people who land on the website, something few dealers actually track.

The most successful dealers in the U.S. use a combination of both digital and traditional advertising. Getting this done requires either an advertising agency that understands both, or staff members that understand both. In many cases, dealerships have marketing people that understand either digital or traditional, but not both.

One fundamental factor that many dealers miss: simply getting the attention of the consumer. Consumers are often so inundated by commercial messages that the ads start to look the same to them.

When five different auto dealers are using some form of a “It’s a giant sale at . . . ” campaign, the ads all begin to look alike. You need to “stick out” in some way.

One very effective way to do this is to use a celebrity spokesperson. Depending on your market size and budget, your celebrity can be either a big star or a small star.

In larger markets, dealers use NFL, NBA, and MLB players; Hollywood actors; and television stars. As the market size gets smaller, you can use lesser-known celebs, retired professional athletes, or former television stars.

By adding a celebrity, you are simply drawing attention to your message, and differentiating your dealership from the others. If you do hire a celebrity, be sure to make full use of their likeness in both traditional and digital advertising.

Tracking down the right celebrity to become your spokesperson is not that hard. If the celebrity is willing, you can work through their agent to negotiate price and terms.

If you want some help with this, call or email Tim Grand at Stevenson Advertising at (206) 910-7148 or Tell him you want to discuss having a celebrity spokesperson for your dealership.


Brett Stevenson


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