Friday, March 19, 2010


We are all exposed to commercial messages more or less continuously each day. Being a highly intelligent species, it is quite natural for us to detect patterns within these commercial messages and, across a lifetime of experience, gather some inadvertent expertise about advertising strategies. I think the average adult believes they could create (or at least recognize) advertising that is likely to be effective.

Of course, if you undertake formal study in the area, you learn in Psych 101 and/or Marketing 101, that there is more to advertising than the casual observer usually understands. Often times, an unintuitive approach will stir the strongest emotional reaction and facilitate recollection of the intended message. For this reason, most advertising is not created by "casual observers" but rather by professionals who are skilled in the art.

The big exception to this rule appears to be advertising created for auto dealerships. Inexplicably, they still hammer the "top quality service" angle in all of their advertising. All of them. In every print, TV, and radio spot.

Memo to Jolly John: Nobody cares about your 5-star certification for repair service.

New car buyers are excited about the prospect of a new vehicle that won't require service. In their subconscious they know that if they ever need a repair, they will go to a trusted mechanic, close to their home or office, who does not charge neuro-surgeon rates to change the oil. How can the entire auto retail industry continue to make this advertising blunder for decades on end?

Perhaps I am one of those casual observers who doesn't get it? Maybe there is an "unintuitive" psychological mechanism at play and by telling me about their great service, car dealers plant the seed that they are honest and respectable and will therefor sell me a new car at a fair price?

I doubt it, but I'll keep my mind open.

1 comment:

  1. Jeff Ryer3/19/2010

    Car dealers mostly suck. Why ?

    1. They promote the best salesperson to be the sales manager. Is there some correlation that I miss here ?

    2. They still have a big desk that is about 8' high and the man (always a 50 yr old man with pot belly) sits there and only speaks to the salespeople, never the customer.

    3. When customer leaves, the "guy behind the desk" yells at salesperson and asks why the customer left ( I dunno boss, guess they didn't like dealing with a schmuck like me who had to go up to the desk to get every question answered)

    4. Service dept is clueless as to how to treat customers. Most fail to be proactive.

    That said, I have had 2 great experiences - one was the Infiniti in 1989 and then the Honda dealer, but other than that it is the same old tired way................