If you’ve been fixated on the war in the Middle East, you may not have noticed the advertising war among car dealers. While watching playoff football, in which multiple brands would follow each other, it occurred to me that the foreign automakers take different approaches to advertising than American car companies.
The Ford, GM and Chrysler ads always talk about price and discounts.
The German, Japanese and Korean companies sell lifestyles. Subaru offers a donation to charities; Honda’s ads feature a group of volunteers fixing a park.
While walking to church Sunday, it was obvious which approach worked better. Over about a five block span, it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen any American made cars. Once I started paying attention, I only counted a Jeep Cherokee and a 1965 Mustang.
The American commercials basically had the effect of underscoring how desperate they were to sell vehicles.
Although the foreign manufacturers were facing similar downturns, they stuck to their ongoing themes, content to steal market share from a smaller pie.
Unless Detroit figures out the weaknesses in its marketing approach, it will not matter how much they are bailed out.