You're sitting on your couch watching your favorite television program as it cuts to a commercial. The screen is dark, a modern rock song builds fast to a crescendo as fast-moving pavement splashes on the screen.
The age of front-loaded campaigns is over.
Front-loaded campaigns for auto introductions in us miss the mark. Without a sustained campaign and vision for continuing sales strategy based on product updates and freshening.
The problem is two-fold.
American cars are losing market share at an alarming rate (with notable exceptions from Ford), but big campaigns, like the one for the new Buick Lacrosse and others, spend their entire marketing budget on the initial roll-out. GM as a matter of de-facto policy doesn't make incremental evolutionary changes to their vehicle lineup, rather it starts a new marketing campaign with a different feel and vibe to match the totally-new vehicle every 5 years or so.
Look at Honda's campaign for the accord over the years. They get it. The money is sustained more evenly throughout the lifetime of the vehicle, with appropriate emphasis when launching a major overhaul at the beginning. But the campaigns over the years have a similar theme, with similar-sounding voice overs and similar sales pitches. The idea is a smart one: consistency of marketing from year to year helps to reinforce a solid brand in the mind of the consumer while allowing for detail changes to be made when improvements and refinements are made to the vehicles they advertise. This helps to reduce long-term marketing and advertising costs.
At the end of the day it's the job of the marketing team to lay out a vision for the long term growth and sustained sales strategy. When you dump all your advertising budget for a car's life cycle in the first 6 months of the campaign, you miss out on developing a relationship with the potential consumer. And now with social engagement tools built into Facebook and Twitter, it makes even less sense.
Start Big, Stay Big
When the majority of ads after the initial campaign revolve around price cuts, dealer incentives and various financing gimmickry, the brand suffers. Find the right tone and build the conversation with your customers. Start big, stay big.