Dare to Be Different

Outrageous Ads Sell Cars for NJ Dealer

Here’s your marketing question of the day:  How do automobile dealers differentiate themselves?

Excluding more rural geographic areas, there are usually multiple dealers selling the same auto brand within a 30-minute to 1-hour driving radius.  This lets consumers shop for the lowest price.

So what can a dealer do beyond talking about the nebulous better service benefit?

Photo: Brad Benson – NY Daily News

Former NFL star and Super Bowl winner Brad Benson has an answer.  It’s clever and powerful advertising.

Benson is the owner of NJ-based Brad Benson Auto Group, which sells the Hyundai and Mitsubishi brands.  Being a former Garden State resident, I remember Benson’s unique advertising style, which leverages current events, politics and celebrity actions to create memorable, attention-getting radio ads.  He sometimes runs traditional television commercials as well.

I was reminded of Benson because he recently made national news with a radio ad that offered Florida Pastor Terry Jones a new car if he stopped his Quran burning plan.  Listen to the spot, which is part of Benson’s International Idiot Award series.

Then, cleverly taking a page from the crowdsourcing playbook, Benson ran a second commercial in which he asked listeners what he should do about the free car offer.

On October 22nd, Pastor Jones arrived at Benson’s New Jersey dealership to accept and then donate the car to a local shelter that helps abused women.

Benson is a savvy marketer.  While he has a gimmick, he also includes an important selling message in each ad.  He’s developed and nurtured a unique communications platform over many years that drives traffic to the dealership and enhances his brand identity and market awareness.

The bottom line is that Benson’s ads get results:  in three years, he’s gone from selling 60 cars a month to between 500 and 600 per month, and is reported to be “New Jersey’s largest car dealer.”

Marketers of all stripes lament the challenge and difficulty of breaking-through to their target.  Yet, how often are we willing to experiment and try different tactics?

While most of us would immediately reject an ad referencing a 40-foot erection, Benson did not.  No worries, it’s clean, and probably cleaner than the erectile dysfunction ads that kids see on television.

Headline For Marketers

Dare to be different.  Take a fresh look at your marketing mix and customer touch points and find a way to stand out with your target – on strategy of course.  Challenge your team to create campaignable marketing platforms, and then activate them with great executions.  Of course, regardless of your hook, you’ll have to deliver your core proposition to the customer, so make sure the organization is prepared and ready to succeed.

Harvey Chimoff is a hands-on marketing leader and business-wide collaborator who builds marketing capabilities in B2B/B2C organizations that drive customer success.

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