Saturday, November 7, 2009

What We Can Learn from a Video Game Ad

The best automotive ad I’ve seen in a long time isn’t for a car, truck or SUV. No the best ad out there is for a video game. “An Open Door” is a television spot for the new Xbox Forza Motorsport 3 video game. I know this is unfair. It’s a commercial full of drool-worthy dream cars and besides they are not selling a car.

The ad is selling a passion, an experience. It isn’t racing cars and it isn’t crashing cars. It’s just a bunch of cars with their driver’s door wide open waiting patiently for someone to step in and mash the pedal. It’s pure emotional advertising at its best.

It’s not like most car ads, correction every car ad, that communicates the functionality of a navigation system or how an all-wheel drive system functions. Yawn...

Peter M. De Lorenzo shared a story on Autoline After Hours from a long time reader of his Auto Extremist column. Jack Jason, a car salesman from Black Rock, CT, sent De Lorenzo this comment after Peter criticized most of today’s automotive marketing in a recent column:
“You can lead a horse to water, but how can you make it drink?

Today’s marketers want to educate the horse- have it know all about the benefits of water. That’s not their job. How do you make the horse drink? Make the bastard thirsty. That’s what marketing is supposed to do. Are there any car ads that do that today? I can’t think of one and I’m dying of thirst.”
This dealer is absolutely correct. I think the reason automotive marketers have forgotten about selling desire is that the products have become so complex that everyone looks at the features list, determines what is new and what is hopefully a differentiator. Well guess what, a better navigation system doesn’t sell a car. Sure it helps, but people want a vehicle that is desirable that conveys who they are and that they are a passionate, interesting person.

Meanwhile we are off telling them how many iPods they can hookup to the stereo and which cell phone works with the hands-free calling.

Sell the desire. Learn from the Forza ad. Remember cars are for driving silly. Show people why your car is the one they want to drive and please save the instruction manual for the frustrating ownership experience.

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