Car Commercials

By Tom Dougherty

Car commercials: Why are they always the same?

It often amazes me how some brands live in the dark when it comes to knowing their competition. Nowhere does that situation exist more than in car commercials.

How can you tell the difference?

Let me explain. Hyundai is currently patting itself on the back for using a real family in its current spots. You know the one. With the family eating spicy beef jerky?

It’s nice and all that this ad features a real family. A blessing-in-disguise result from COVID-19 restrictions. “I think you can feel a little bit of chemistry between them,” says Hyundai Motor America CMO Angela Zepeda.

That part, I don’t get. They seem just like any family in a TV commercial.

Speaking of which. I can’t distinguish between the Hyundai family and the one from Nissan.

“Until you read this, did you think those car commercials were from the same auto brand?”

I guess the inclusion of Brie Larson should represent the difference between the two campaigns. But if Nissan told me that was a real family, I’d believe it too.

So even when automakers think they are making different car commercials than their competitors, they are not. I was genuinely surprised to find out they were two completely different campaigns. At first, I thought it was the same campaign.

Car commercials simply blend into each other

Why do car commercials always blend into the same mix? What’s with this industry? An industry that trades ad agencies back and forth like baseball cards.

For one, brands – across all categories, and even among Fortune 500 companies – a market with blinders on. They only see what they want to see. This is why they tout their latest features without knowing if audiences even care. Brands rarely see things from the point of view of the audience.

Even if you take Hyundai’s too-hot-jerky family out of competitive context, the commercial wouldn’t make much impact on buying behaviors.

car commercials

Which of the car commercials running today is this guy from?

What brands often don’t realize is that audiences see marketing in a snapshot. They don’t pick over the details. They may not even notice. We’re conditioned to weed out what we aren’t interested in. Because there are so many messages coming at us each day.

So when two campaigns are so similar, we either instinctively ignore them. Or think they are part of the same campaign.

Until you read this, did you think those car commercials were from the same auto brand?

See more posts in the following related categories: auto advertising


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