Exploration of influential and impactful automotive advertising campaigns


A look at the past, present and future of disruptive marketing in the automotive industry

Advertising has come a long way from its humble beginnings. There’s no doubt about it – marketing remains an ever-changing landscape: what worked a few years ago may no longer be effective today, and what’s popular now may be out of date a few months from now. Nowhere is this more relevant than in the automotive industry, where new campaigns have the potential to make or break a business. This article will explore some disruptive and impactful automotive marketing campaigns over the past century. We’ll explore what made them successful and see how they changed the marketing landscape forever.

Early automotive marketing that paved the way

One of the earliest and best-known automotive advertising campaigns was Ford’s “Model T” campaign, which ran successfully from 1908 to 1927. The advertisements featured simple text and images that showed the features of the car and proved to be very effective in launching the modern American automobile. 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 largest and most successful automakers in the world.

Innovation and imagination over the decades

Over time, new memorable and impactful marketing approaches have taken shape, from General Motors’ “See the USA in Your Chevrolet” campaign to Volkswagen’s iconic “Think Small” approach. Over the years, other approaches to disruptive automotive advertising have developed. In the 1980s, we saw the first truly disruptive automotive marketing campaigns begin to take shape. Automotive marketing teams needed to find new, innovative and disruptive ways to capture the hearts, imaginations and loyalty of the consumer.

Saab ran an ad featuring a Saab car driving behind a jet with powerful slow-motion visuals and depicting a lifestyle that many admire. The campaign slogan was “Nothing on Earth Comes Closer.” Focusing on the luxury and speed of the vehicle, the ad was aimed at an audience eager to experience a lifestyle they aspired to. This groundbreaking ad was hugely successful and launched the career of its director, who went on to make the hit film TOP GUN.

These early car campaigns were disruptive because they could reach large audiences and promote their products in a very different way than had been done before. They set the stage for automotive marketing campaigns that would come later and continue to be disruptive.

Toyota enters 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 major player in the automotive industry. However, everything started to change in the 1980s.

“In 1989, Toyota burst onto the American market with the Lexus LS 400, a design icon at the time, and rocked the auto industry with the vehicle and this ad. The ad was so innovative that Nissan and Dodge copied it.In this 1989 commercial, the LS 400 is shown here at an equivalent of 145 miles per hour with 100 glasses of champagne presented on top without breaking.Toyota/Lexus was and still is a disruptor with every model they create,” said Melanie Borden, Director Member at Melanie Borden, LLC.

The compelling Wine Glass ad rocketed the Lexus LS into the stratosphere, becoming one of the most talked about marketing campaigns of the year.

Captivate the audience one line at a time

Moving from bold headlines and visually stunning advertisements that are cleverly designed to capture the attention of their target market, the next big disruptor in the automotive marketing industry has taken a more direct and singular approach. According to Dane Scott, President of Windstar Studios Inc., the simplicity of words scrolling across a screen has boosted dealer sales worldwide. “In my forty years of creating Level 3 and 2 automotive ads, one in particular stands out: The Scroll. The words simply scroll up the screen.”

“The styling makes it look like 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 can’t remember not how many of these we made, but it was easily hundreds. From a personal perspective, the Super Bowl commercial that caught my attention the most was KIA’s Robo Dog. Like many, I’m sure the point of going electric Robo gave commercial emotion and something to connect Plugging the dog into the electric vehicle to bring it back to life made the car a hero.

Enter the new era

As the automotive industry continues to evolve, disruptive marketing practices are becoming increasingly prominent and technologically advanced. As the automotive industry has become more crowded and competitive, disruptive marketing practices have had to change with technology booms, changing socio-political beliefs, and a marketing landscape that has become entirely saturated. In Part 2 of this series, we’ll explore disruptive marketing in the automotive industry over the past two decades and learn how some companies have managed to cut through the noise to capture attention and succeed.


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