There’s plenty to be scared of when it comes to Halloween, and the parade of car dealership ads touting “monster savings,” “scary good deals,” and “price slasher deals” are staples of the genre and unfortunately among them.
For an auto dealership trying to create a unique, Halloween-themed customer experience, we’ve outlined a few examples of the best ads that connect to consumers, while helping drive traffic and sales. Sound simple? If it were, we’d have watched a lot fewer bad Halloween-themed TV ads for the writing of this blog.
For one thing, just as car buyers are going digital, so should the focus of the ads. While the :15 or :30 television spot is still important for some dealers, the YouTube or social media pre-roll ad – in which you want to grab viewers before the first five seconds are up, to avoid skips – is increasingly critical. These ads also must do all the things any traditional form of dealership advertising needs to accomplish in terms of connecting to consumers’ wants and needs.
Consider this ad from Hollywood Kia in Hollywood, Florida. This dealership realized Halloween at its heart is about kids being adorable in their costumes. The ad captures that emotional feeling for families and is a great example of how a cute child grabs the consumer’s attention in a way an adult never could. Every car dealer that considers dressing up an adult in costume for their Halloween ad should instead watch this ad and then try to reenact.
Santa Maria Ford Lincoln Mercury took the “fear factor” of Halloween and applied it to the more practical traditional fears consumers have when buying a vehicle such as trade-in value, credit history, and out-of-pocket costs. At the end of the day, advertising is supposed to connect to things that matter to customers. Santa Maria Ford Lincoln Mercury’s Halloween ad capitalized on the customer’s vulnerability. The audio track on the ad also grabs the attention of a TV or YouTube viewer whose focus has wandered during the commercial break with a scream sound effect triggering the viewer’s alertness.
Dream Cars Austin deserves credit for deciding to commit to more than just dressing a dealership employee up in a fresh-out-of-the-packaging costume to make corny puns about “scary good deals.” Zombies, an over-the-top mad scientist, and actual production value make this a commercial that bears rewatching. The dealership also knows when it has hit on a good idea, as this subsequent “Walking Dead”-themed ad is one of the few car dealer ads we’ve seen to prominently figure a crossbow.
South Pacific Auto Sales in Albany, Oregon revisited a Halloween ad from 1994 in which the dealer’s young son offered to paint any car purchased in October orange, for free. Now an adult working at the dealership, young Cody will still paint your car orange for free. For a dealership that clearly bases much of its brand identity strongly on its history, this is an effective way not only to make consumers nostalgic for a “simpler time,” but also to make them feel connected to the people of the dealership.
The Car Factory in Billings, Montana might not win awards for special effects, but the way the dealer buys into his character, combined with the connection to specific consumer concerns about price, selection and hard sales, make this a strangely compelling dealership ad.
Honorable Mention: While it’s not a traditional TV ad, Ford created the more modern version – a viral video that dealerships could brand by turning a car wash “en route to a test drive” into a surprise haunted house.
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