I just read a very interesting article on AdAge.com – How To Build Better Car Marketing. In it Jordan Zimmerman makes some interesting points about how agencies are up for review because marketing automobiles is a unique proposition and in his words “agencies lack a fundamental understanding of how the industry operates.”
I couldn’t agree more but I think that Jordan left out a few key points:
- In too many instances, the agencies handling the accounts not only lack an understanding of how the industry works, they lack an understanding of the PRODUCT. Automobiles are different than sneakers, diamonds or food – all of which the average agency grunt can relate to. Cars and trucks are complex machines that evoke passion in enthusiasts and owners alike. Driving and interacting with the machine involves every sense and sensation – whether the owner is aware of it or not. Yet we trust the communication of core brand attributes to people at agencies in cities like New York who often don’t even have drivers licenses! In order to represent an automotive brand, everyone on the team should have a passion for the product and have the ability to experience the product on a daily basis.
- Agencies need to stop working for awards and keep the goals of their clients in mind. In the case of the auto industry, it is a monthly cycle that is focused on moving the metal. Award-winning ads are great, brand awareness is important but every agency should be tasked with helping sell the product and rewarded or penalized based on their ability to do so.
- To follow up on the point above, the way agencies are organized it is difficult to measure how effective a national campaign is in terms of sales. There is a lot of inefficiency in the system with different agencies handling the Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 advertising. What about a different model that coordinates the three under one agency and true metrics put in place to measure the efficacy of a campaign?
The role of the advertising agency is changing rapidly and the automotive industry is a primary catalyst to this change. Even after the economy stabilizes, automotive clients will be running lean and demanding more accountability from their agencies. Per Mr. Zimmerman, a better understanding of how the industry works is important but I’d argue a understanding of and passion for the product is paramount for success in the future.