Car industry needs PR

Context Analytics recently published a paper showing that for certain brands PR was way more effective than advertising. The brands most affected were those which had ‘high involvement’ products such as computers. High involvement products are ones where consumers typically do quite a bit of research before they make the purchase. I’d put cars firmly into that category and yet unless I’m blind I’d suggest that most car makers have done a pretty poor job on their PR. Instead they seem determined to convince people using TV adverts that they should rush out and buy their new vehicle. I’m of course basing this thesis on little real science. I did do a Google news search on major car brands and if you ignore all the bad articles about how deeply troubled the industry is, you see little that appears to be the result of a PR campaign.

A great example to me of a missed opportunity is Toyota’s launch of the new Prius. The car doesn’t go on sale until ‘late Spring’ but it is already on the Toyota website. Given how popular this car is I’d have expected there to be a lot of PR outside the traditional trade press. As yet I’ve seen nothing and as Prius owner (or Pious as a friend of mine calls them) I tend to notice when images of the less than attractive vehicle appear in the paper.

For the record then I’d strongly advise GM, Ford et al to forget their expensive ads and focus on getting the argument across using the media and social media. Assuming Context’s study is accurate, they’ll spend less and sell more.


2 Comments on “Car industry needs PR”

  1. Shael Sharma says:

    Totally true. Volkswagen India brand launch was pretty much a PR driven exercise and it worked really well. Does Text 100 still do BMW?

  2. Tim Dyson, CEO of Next Fifteen says:

    we do indeed still work with BMW. I am deeply puzzled why the car makers haven’t figured out that they need to convince people of the reasons to buy a car, rather than thrusting cars at them through adverts.

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