ABX Advisory


What Makes an Automobile Ad Effective Around the World?

Posted by Angela Jeffrey on Aug 27, 2019 12:26:37 PM

We looked at evaluation results for auto ads, focusing on TV ads in the US, UK, Germany, and Japan to see if culture played a part in ad test results.  While there are many country-to-country differences, culture was not a big factor.  We’ll share some insights showing a top performer and lower performing ad in each country.

ABX Compares Ad Scores and Creative for Cars in Four Countries

Production values for the ads seemed highest for US and German auto ads and were focused mainly on high-tech safety features, communications consoles, driving speed and precision, treacherous terrain and a bit of humor.  Japanese ads were often accompanied by very loud music and voice-over, with colorful cars and big computer graphics.  UK ads were pretty standard with celebrities thrown into the mix. Considering the average ABX Index score for automotive ads is relatively low, one wonders if insights from the higher performing ads might not be used to improve the overall performance of the category.  You be the judge.

1.  Germany Auto Ads

 High-Performing Ad:  Mitsubishi Outlander Hybrid Offroader - "More Hybrid" - :30 TelevisionMitsubishi Outlander Hybrid Offroader speeding alongThe Mitsubishi Outlander is shown speeding through different landscapes with close-ups of its electronics.  High-tech, fast-paced music accompanies.  It is exactly the kind of spot one would expect to appeal to the German car-going population.  The ABX scorecard below shows a high Index at 129 in the top 95th percentile of all ABX-measured ads.  The Message at 144 and Reputation of 193 shows a highly effective ad that inspired the Action score to 123. Mitsubishi Outlander ad scorecard
High Performing ad:  Volkswagen with Golf Hatchback - "IQ Drive with Emergency Assist"
Rockers in back seat of VolkswagenAs many associate Germany with a clean-cut, neat, precise culture, one might not expect this ad to do so well there.  Four hairy guys are rocking away to blaring rock music as they drive down the road when the driver and front passenger knock heads and pass out.  The guys in the back watch with concern as the car figures out there is no driver and comes to a slow stop.  This spot is very funny and totally communicates the value of Volkswagen's IQ Drive. However, the hairy men do score a little below average for Gender Equality at 94!ABX Ad Test score for Volkswagen ad

2. Japan Auto Ads

High-Performing Ad - New Range Rover Sport -  "Racer Driving on Slope"New Ranger Rover Sport on steep highway

This spot plays well to our perception of a Japanese audience, which might appreciate precision, achievement and workmanship. The spot features stunning geography with powerful music and no voice-over as we watch the Range Rover tackle an almost vertical hill.  The Message score is solid and the feat enhanced Reputation as well as intended Action.  ABX scorecard for Range Rover adPoorer Performer: Suburu's "Father and son planting Carrot" - :90 Television Boy with carrot that he planted himselfThe little son won't eat his carrots.  So dad piles him in the Suburu and they drive to a community garden where they plant carrot seeds.  Months later, they return, only to see the garden in ruins.  However, they discover their carrots and pull them up with glee.  Now the son eats his carrots.  The car is only a side piece to the story, as seen in the low scores below on the ABX Index, Awareness, Messaging and Action.  However, the cultural story was appreciated as seen in the very high Reputation score of 144 and high Gender Equality Index™ scores for the father and son.  Japan Carrot Ad score card

3. United Kingdom Auto Ads

High-Performing Ad: "There's Nothing Like a Niro" :30 TV spotRobert DeNiro in new "Niro" adA brand new ad for Kia features Robert DeNiro as spokesperson for the new "Niro" automobile.  DeNiro reports in to the producer wearing an outdoorsy outfit since he was told to be "trendy."  Producer corrects him that no, he's not to be trendy, the 'Niro" car is trendy.  Britons enjoyed this spot and gave it really high marks, putting it in the top 98% of all 200,000 spots measured by ABX.  While using celebrities doesn't always work, a star of DeNiro's caliber helped push Reputation to 221 and Intended Action to 134. The tie-in with the name clearly works. Dinero scorecardPoor Performer:  Another celebrity-feature, this series of spots with Cara Delevingne, "More than One Thing" in a  Volkswagen T-Cross Offroader SUV - :30 TelevisionCara Delevingne driving T-Cross Offroader SUVThis actress and model selects music in her car and then starts seeing herself in various iterations throughout her drive - as a drummer, entering a coffee shop, doing the model's walk, etc.  As the British usually love celebrities, I'd have expected this high-octane spot to do better.  But at an ABX Index of 94, it is below average, carries no Message (83) and inspires no Action (84), though it does impact Reputation a little at 109.  In all celebrity ads, the temptation is to feature them instead of the item being advertised, and this is a perfect example. ABX Scorecard for T-Cross Offroader Ad

4. United States Auto Ads

High-Performing Ad: The Subaru Ascent - "Life doesn't give you many second changes" - :30 TV Spot on "EyeSight with Pre-Collision Braking"Suburu almost crashing into a truck.One of the highest performers in the US, this spot stresses the danger of looking away from the wheel while driving, and also shows the amazing new technology that corrects our errors in driving.  This is a powerful spot as the driver looks back at his daughter for just a second and then realizes the car is about to hit a truck.  He starts to see his family's past flash before his eyes.  Fortunately, the Subaru stops the car itself just in time. The ABX Index of 129 is in the top 89% of all measured ads.  The high Message, Reputation and Intended Action indicates the power of the spot, and the Gender Equality Index scores were also high for each character. ABX Scorecard for Suburu AdPoorer Performer: The new Honda Civic Sport - "It's Ready for You" - :30 TelevisionHonda features aero acrobats across the CIVIC nameThis happy spot features airborne acrobats within each letter of "CIVIC" that are activated as the car drives by.  Both acrobats and car driver illustrate that a Civic Sport is fun and and adventurous.  The production values on this spot are amazing, with multiple cranes holding the air dancers in place.  We would have expected a higher score on this one than 106.  It appears the acrobatics may have taken attention away  from the car.  Honda Civic Sport ABX ad scorecard

We will continue with international analysis of Categories over the months to come.

How the ABX Testing is Done

ABX provides ad effectiveness scores from human respondents against 14 variables and in all media types. ABX Index values are a comparison of the results of an ad versus the average of all ads in the ABX database (160,000+ ads). Click for more information about definitions and methodology. 

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Topics: Automotive, Global, Advertising Effectiveness

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