Donna Welker

Regional Vice President | Graham Oleson

Donna is a fiercely driven strategic sales and marketing executive. She is an idea generator, campaign developer and a results oriented professional. As the Regional Vice President of Graham Oleson, Donna has built a successful 17 year track record in marketing, branding, sales and leadership. By drawing on vast expertise to discern and cater to the unique needs of each client, Donna consistently raises the corporate bottom line by generating campaigns and promotions which in turn generate substantial market awareness and interest. With a passion for continued professional development, Donna's list of specialities extend to include the full spectrum of marketing.

Exploring Influential and Impactful Automotive Advertising Campaigns (Part Two)


Disruption for the Modern Age in Automotive Advertising Campaigns From 2001 on, the auto industry took a new approach for disruptive marketing that aligned with a world that was rapidly changing and evolving. Disruptive marketing is all about standing out from the crowd. In today’s loud, digital, tech-savvy world, businesses are desperately trying to sell you something from every angle, in every space, and on every platform, making it hard to connect with an audience that is already overwhelmed and oversaturated with content and advertising.  Since the technology boom in the 2000s, disruptive marketers are the ones who have been able to cut through the noise and find success – more so than any other time in history, particularly in the auto industry, where competition is fierce, and customers are bombarded with advertising on a daily basis.  Today, disruptive marketing practices are more important than ever. From turning conventional showrooms upside down to selling cars online, disruptive marketers have been shaking up the status quo and driving sales by appealing to customers' sense of adventure and modern technology.  Automotive Marketing in a Post 9/11 World The automotive industry was one of the first to be impacted by the events of September 11th. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, GM launched the 'Keep America Rolling' campaign. The objective was to encourage people to buy GM cars to help support the economy. The campaign was highly successful and is credited with helping GM weather the economic downturn. Keep America Rolling was a massive success, with GM sales increasing by 20% in the months following the campaign's launch. It was a perfect example of how a well-executed, disruptive marketing campaign can help a company weather an economic crisis. Cashing In on Clunkers Disruptive marketing is all about making a splash and getting people to take notice. It's about thinking outside the box and coming up with creative ways to get people's attention, and with a looming car shortage in the 2000s inspired one of the most memorable campaigns in auto industry history. Launched in 2009, the program offered consumers a cash rebate for trading in their old cars for new, more fuel-efficient models. The results were dramatic. In just six weeks, the program boosted auto sales by nearly 30%. More importantly, it changed the way people thought about car buying. Suddenly, fuel economy was a top priority for consumers, and automakers were scrambling to keep up. The Cash for Clunkers campaign was a true game-changer for the auto industry, and it's a perfect example of the power of disruptive marketing. Automotive Advertising that Electrified the Industry The Model S was a breakthrough vehicle for Tesla. It was the first all-electric car that had a range of over 200 miles. This made it a viable option for long-distance travel and helped to change people's perceptions of electric vehicles. Tesla's marketing campaigns have been highly influential in driving sales and generating buzz for the company. The beauty of this is that the campaigns were not made by Tesla itself, but rather by someone in the audience. Someone who believes wholeheartedly in the brand, so much so that they felt compelled to create their own version of an advertisement; a creation which has had over 375k views, completely unsolicited by the brand itself: Gallons of Light. Capturing the Power of Black Friday  Taking a cue from major retailers throughout the United States, car dealerships began embracing the “retail frenzy” model known as Black Friday.  Black Friday has been widely embraced as one of the most effective pieces of disruptive marketing in history.  Held on the Friday after Thanksgiving, the Black Friday campaign is widely marked as the official start of the holiday shopping season.  While Black Friday has traditionally been a retail event for big box stores or smaller shopping experiences, the automotive industry began pivoting their marketing dollars in recent years to entice consumers to purchase a car. “Marketing convinced public that that “Black Friday” is a great shopping day to get a jump on the holiday shopping season. This provided a very effective “disruption” of the norm – staying home and watching football with the family,” said Kirk Oleson, President of Graham Oleson .  Marketing While the World Stood Still The unprecedented circumstances of 2020 forever changed the face of industry, commerce, and advertising. Positioned against the backdrop of a catastrophic global pandemic, automotive marketing teams scurried to find a new, impactful advertising approach when most were sheltered in place. As car dealerships remained empty due to social distancing and health concerns, television ads began shifting their tone and approach to connect with car buyers. "While this TV ad campaign wasn't the first to promote buying a car from home, it was launched at the very beginning of COVID and was very successful," said Tony Roland, Automotive Account Executive at Spectrum Reach . "Car buyers weren't going to dealerships at the time. Many people aren't comfortable making such a big purchase without seeing it, touching it, and talking directly to a person." As demonstrated in a commercial that showcased a local car dealer, Joe Maus CDJR, this approach assured the consumer that the process could be both simple and non-threatening. "At a time when many other local dealers were talking about the measures they were taking in their stores to make them clean and safe, this alternative resonated with TV viewers throughout the market," said Roland. Modern Challenges for a New Era in Car Shopping The way consumers behave has changed dramatically in recent years, and businesses have had to adapt their strategies accordingly. One of the most significant changes has been the shift away from weekend shopping. In the past, businesses focused their marketing efforts on getting potential customers to add their products to their shopping list by Friday. In the auto industry, weekends were traditionally when dealerships offered their best deals. However, with more and more people shopping during the week, dealerships have had to adjust their strategies. As a result, the way businesses operate has changed dramatically in recent years, and companies must continue to adapt their strategies to keep up with the changing consumer landscape. Beyond the new challenges of modern shopping patterns, the media landscape has more fragmented than ever before, creating a more saturated environment to connect with audiences. With the rise of digital media, there are more ways for consumers to get their information. This has led to a disruptive marketing environment, where companies must fight for attention. One way that car companies are achieving this is by using cross demographic targeting, allowing advertisers to reach a wider audience with their message. In the auto industry, for example, companies are targeting young adults with social media campaigns. This is because they know that this demographic is more likely to be interested in new car models. By using cross demographic targeting, companies can reach a larger audience and increase their sales, such as the 2022 Acura “Your Turn” campaign with Vince Staples during the NBA Finals.  According to Torrance Hampton, Creative Director and Executive Producer for GFACTOR FILMS , “The disruptive nature of the campaign originates with Vince himself, and you can see his direct influence over the campaign visuals: the artistic 360 freeze frames, jump-cut car performance shots and kinetic camera movements all while showcasing multicultural millennials experiencing the new Acura Integra. It's not about the car, it's about the lifestyle.” Reimagining Disruptive Automotive Marketing in the 21st Century There have been many other disruptive automotive marketing campaigns in the past century. The automotive industry is constantly changing, and so is the marketing landscape. What worked in the past may not be effective today, and what's popular now may be out of style in a few months. To stay ahead of the curve, automotive marketing teams will need to continuously find new, innovative, and disruptive ways to capture the consumer's heart, imagination, and loyalty. If you missed Part One of this series, click here . 
Exploring Influential and Impactful Automotive Advertising Campaigns


A look at the past, present and future of disruptive marketing in the auto industry Advertising has come a long way since its humble beginnings. There's no doubt about it – marketing remains an ever-changing landscape: What worked a few years ago may not be effective today, and what's popular now may be out of style in a few months. Nowhere is this more relevant than in the automotive industry, where new campaigns hold the potential to make or break a company. This article will explore some disruptive and impactful automotive marketing campaigns throughout the past century. We'll explore what made them successful and see how they changed the marketing landscape forever. Early Automotive Marketing that Set the Stage One of the earliest and most well-known automotive advertising campaigns was Ford's "Model T" campaign, successfully running from 1908 to 1927. The ads featured simple text and images that showed off the car's features and proved highly effective in launching the modern American motoring age. The Model T was a revolutionary car that changed the way people thought about transportation. Ford ran a full-page advertisement in the Saturday Evening Post in October 1908. The ad appealed to middle-income families with a bold headline, "Four-Cylinder, Twenty Horse Power, Five Passenger Touring Car" at just $850.00. The campaign was so successful that it helped make Ford one of the world's biggest and most successful automakers. Innovation and Imagination Throughout the Decades As time passed, new approaches to memorable and impactful marketing took shape, from General Motors' "See the USA in Your Chevrolet" campaign to Volkswagen's iconic "Think Small" approach. As the years continued, other approaches to disruptive automotive advertising blossomed. In the 1980s, we saw the first truly disruptive automotive marketing campaigns start to take shape. Automotive marketing teams needed to find new, innovative, and disruptive ways to capture the consumer's heart, imagination, and loyalty. Saab ran an ad that featured a Saab car driving behind a jet with powerful slow-motion visuals and portrayed a lifestyle admirable to many. The tagline for the campaign was "Nothing on Earth comes close." Focused on the luxury and speed of the vehicle, the ad connected with an audience eager to experience a lifestyle they aspired to. This groundbreaking ad found tremendous success and launched the career of its director, who went on to direct the highly successful movie  TOP GUN . These early automotive campaigns were disruptive because they could reach a broad audience and promote their products in a very different way from what had been done before. They set the stage for automotive marketing campaigns that would come later and continue to be disruptive. Toyota Breaks into the US Market In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Toyota was relatively unknown in the United States. They had a small market share and were not considered a significant player in the automotive industry. However, that all began to change in the 1980s. "In 1989, Toyota broke into the US market with the Lexus LS 400, a design icon at the time, and shook up the automotive industry with the vehicle and this commercial. The ad was so innovative, Nissan and Dodge copied it. In this commercial from 1989, The LS 400 is featured here at an equivalent of 145 miles per hour with 100 glasses of champagne featured on top without shattering. Toyota/Lexus was and still is a disruptor with every model they create," said Melanie Borden, Managing Member at Melanie Borden, LLC . The mesmerizing Wine Glass commercial shot the Lexus LS into the stratosphere, becoming one of the most talked-about marketing campaigns of the year. Captivating the Audience Once Line at a Time Transitioning from big, bold headlines and visually stunning commercials cleverly designed to capture the attention of their target market, the next big disruptor in the automotive marketing industry took and more direct, singular approach. According to Dane Scott, President of Windstar Studios Inc ., the simplicity of words scrolling across a screen boosted sales for dealerships on a global scale. "In my forty years of creating Tier 3 and Tier 2 automotive commercials, one, in particular, stands out: The Scroll. Words simply scrolling up the screen." "The style gives it the appearance of breaking news, so you pay attention and almost have to read it. Dealers loved it, and it was effective, easy to produce, and affordable. I don't recall how many of these we made, but it was easily in the hundreds. From a personal perspective, the Super Bowl commercial that grabbed my attention the most was KIA's Robo Dog. Like many, I am teetering on the edge of going electric. Robo gave the commercial emotion and something to connect to. Plugging the dog into the EV to bring it back to life made the car a hero." Moving Into the New Age As the auto industry continues to evolve, disruptive marketing practices are becoming increasingly important and technologically advanced. As the auto industry has become more crowded and competitive, disruptive marketing practices have had to shift with technology booms, changing social- political beliefs, and a marketing landscape that has become entirely saturated. In the second part of this series, we will explore disruptive marketing in the auto industry throughout the past two decades, and learn how some companies have effectively broken through the noise to capture attention and find success.  
NADA 2022 Annual Convention


In 2021, The National Automotive Dealers Association committed to deliver a bigger, better, and more innovative convention in 2022 – and that’s exactly what they did. To say that the last two years have offered some significant challenges to our industry would be an understatement.  As we have been forced to change the way we not only do business but how we learn, network, and connect as a community, NADA made a promise to its members to make the 2022 National Automotive Dealers Association Convention the biggest and best experience in the history of the organization. ...and they delivered. Packed with over 100 educational opportunities, 600 exhibitors, and thousands of networking opportunities over the course of four days in sunny Las Vegas, the 2022 NADA Annual Convention sought to deliver an experience that not only made up for lost time caused by the global pandemic but also created an elevated space for industry peers and experts to reconnect and explore the latest tech and innovation in our field. Beyond the staggering number of attendees, exhibitors, and experts participating in the 2022 NADA convention, the organization introduce several new aspects to the conference.  Kicking off the festivities on Thursday, attendees were welcomed into the new home of the Las Vegas Raiders, Allegiant Stadium.  Featuring an electrifying performance from three-time Grammy winners Train, the inspired and energized crowd enjoyed a great night of networking and celebration – setting the stage for the incredible activities, panels, exhibitors, and educational opportunities that laid ahead. Among the most popular new features this year was the addition of the Dealer Learning Lab.  Embracing a TED Talk-style presentation format, topics ranged from variable and fixed ops to leadership and business operations, as well as several conversations centered around the biggest challenges facing the industry today.  Additionally, NADA offered a series of more traditional educational sessions designed to engage and inform our community.  With over 100 workshops and countless other educational opportunities throughout the course of the convention, there were sessions designed to support, inform, and inspire – from industry veterans to first-year members and attendees. From there, the 2022 NADA Annual Convention featured over 600 exhibitors from around the world.  Spread throughout two halls, the 2022 exhibitors delivered more than great conversation, mind-blowing innovation, and a strong showcase of products – they delivered hope, optimism, and a sense of dedication that was unapparelled.   Within each booth was a vendor eager to connect with other industry experts to find powerful solutions to rapidly changing market conditions and advancing technology. And finally, after days of connecting, networking, learning, and exploring, the National Automotive Dealers Association Annual Convention awarded the industry’s most prestigious award, Time Dealer of the Year.  With 47 dealers nominated and recognized for their excellence in business and community service, the Time Dealer of the Year award ceremony truly exemplified the countless ways its members selflessly give back to their communities on a local and national level.  While this award ceremony is always filled with inspirational people and incredible acts, the energy and commitment felt in this year’s event were simply captivating.  The 2022 Time Dealer of the Year was awarded to Bob Giles , owner of Giles Automotive located in Louisiana , of which Mr. Giles accepted the honor with the grace and gratitude one would expect from the recipient of such an incredible award.  In his speech, he challenged everyone in the industry to do their best in making a positive impact in their community through thoughtful, self-less acts of compassion and advocacy.  The powerful ceremony left the audience inspired and ready to make a difference in their own communities, and on behalf of all in attendance, I would like to congratulate the 2022 nominees for their contributions and the powerful example they provide all of us. The 2022 Time Dealer of the Year Nominees Included: Gary Ackerman, President/Owner of Gaudin Ford located in Las Vegas John Billard, Dealer Principal of Hempstead Ford Lincoln located in Hempstead, N.Y. Cary Bosak, Dealer Principal of Bosak Motors Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram located in Merrillville, Indiana Virginia Bowden, Dealer Principal of McClinton Chevrolet located in Parkersburg, West Virginia Steve Brown, President of Brown Motors located in Petoskey, Michigan Gregg R. Ciocca, President of Ciocca Ford of Quakertown located in Allentown, Pennsylvania Jason Courter, Owner of Honda Auto Center of Bellevue located in Bellevue, Washington Wyndi Damato, Principal/General Manager of Fitzgerald Ford located in Fitzgerald, Georgia Erik Day, CFO/Partner of Warren Henry Auto Group CFO/Partner located in Davie, Florida Winfred Dodge, Dealer of Bill Dodge Auto Group located in Westbrook, Maine Wayne Evans, Owner of Prairie Motors located in Stanley, North Dakota Ray Fregia Jr., Owner of Courtesy Ford Lincoln located in Danville, Illinois Robert “Bob” Giles, Chairman/CEO of Giles Automotive located in Lafayette, Louisiana  Terry Gilmore, Principal Owner of Paradise Chevrolet Cadillac located in Temecula, California James Gramm, Dealer Principal of Safford CJDR Springfield located in Springfield, Virginia Bill Griffis, Owner of Griffis Motors in Philadelphia, Mississippi Kelly Hirning, President of Hirning Buick GMC located in Pocatello, Idaho Jason Hoover, Owner/Dealer Principal of Midway Motors located in McPherson, Kansas Jack Kain Sr., Founder of Jack Kain Ford located in Versailles, Kentucky Gregg Kunes, Dealer/President/Owner of Kunes Country Ford-Lincoln located in Delavan, Wisconsin Steven Lillestol, President of Thief River Ford, Inc., located in Thief River Falls, Minnesota Christopher Lindsay, President and CEO of Lindsay Chevrolet located in Woodbridge, Virginia Daniel Luneau, Owner/Dealer of Handy Automotive/Handy Toyota located in St. Albans, Vermont Doug McElveen, Dealer/Owner of McElveen Buick GMC Summerville, South Carolina Pat McGrath, Dealer Principal of Pat McGrath Chevyland located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa David McNeill, CEO/Dealer of McNeill Chevrolet Buick Nissan of Wilkesboro located in Wilkesboro, North Carolina J. Douglas North, President of North Brothers Ford, Inc., located in Westland, Michigan Todd C. Ouellette Sr., Dealer/Owner of Long-Lewis Ford of the Shoals located in Muscle Shoals, Alabama Curtis Pascarella, Owner/President of Phillips Chevrolet located in Frankfort, Illinois Tony Pierce, Dealer Principal of Snowy Mountain Motors located in Lewistown, Montana John Platek, Dealer Principal of Betley Chevrolet, Inc., located in Derry, New Hampshire Daniel Reineke, Dealer Principal of Reineke’s Tiffin Ford Lincoln, Inc., located in Tiffin, Ohio Bob Rogers, President of Bob Rogers Chevrolet located in Paris, Arkansas Michael Schulte, Owner of Schulte Subaru located in Sioux Falls, South Dakota Dennis Schworer, President and Owner of Honda Cars of Bellevue, located in Bellevue, Nebraska Robert Serpentini Jr., President of Serpentini Chevrolet of Strongsville located in Strongsville, Ohio Joseph Shaker, President of Wellesley Mazda located in Wellesley, Massachusetts Robert Sickel, President of Pine Belt Chevrolet located in Lakewood, New Jersey Bob Siracusano, Owner of Sawyer Motors located in Saugerties, New York Brad Sowers, General Manager/Owner of Jim Butler Chevrolet located in Fenton, Missouri Michael Stoebner, General Manager/President of Honda Windward located in Kaneohe, Hawaii Annette Sykora, Partner of Smith South Plains Ford Lincoln located in Levelland, Texas Joseph Thurby Jr., Dealer of Thurby’s Riverside Ford located in Markleysburg, Pennsylvania Tim Urness, Dealer Principal of C. H. Urness Motors located in The Dalles, Oregon S. Mitchell Walters, President of Friendship Ford located in Bristol, Tennessee Chris H. Wilson, Dealer of Wilson Motor Company located in Logan, Utah Phil Winslow, Owner of Winslow BMW of Colorado Springs located in Colorado Springs, Colorado As I close this brief snapshot of the 2022 NADA Annual Conference, I would be remised not to share a quote from the organization’s Outgoing National Automobile Dealers Association Chairman, Paul Walser.  During his address to the convention, Chairman Walser said, “Imagine a workforce where diversity and inclusion are the standard, where we are the industry that encompasses everyone – so much so, that our efforts are respected and celebrated by other industries, government agencies, legislators, and everyday people looking for an opportunity or a career and where there is no shortage of people wanting to be part of it.” I couldn’t have said it better myself and I am proud to call myself a member of this tremendous community of consummate professionals.