Unite Digital’s Tier-less Marketing Approach Yields Five-Fold YOY Increase in Leads for the 2022 Outlander
By Dave Zuchowski, Chief Strategy Officer, Unite Digital, LLC
It goes without saying that advertising, in any industry, is most powerful when it is singularly focused, includes crystal clear messaging and is highly impactful in seamlessly connecting consumers across all tiers and at every touchpoint.
But in the complex world of automotive marketing, it’s just not as simple as it sounds. Our industry has long relied on a multi-tier advertising approach that allocates media spending across three distinct buckets to achieve separate objectives resulting in a highly wasteful and sub-optimized use of one of the largest line-item budgets for both OEMs and dealers alike.
(Sidebar) Summary of Tiers I-III:
- OEM’s use Tier I to feature the product as king and leverage tonality in the spot to effectively build and position their brand (BUY BRAND X). This approach is 100% funded by the OEM.
- Dealer groups use Tier II to supplement Tier I brand messaging, provide geographic focus, and feature targeted vehicles with consistent messaging across the Dealer group (BUY BRAND X IN THE BAY AREA). This approach generally uses co-mingled funds – a combination of dealer advertising assessment and OEM matching contribution.
- Individual dealer advertising at Tier III is generally much more “deal” oriented – designed to create the sizzle/excitement needed to attract shoppers to their store – lowest price, highest availability, best payments, biggest discount, etc. (BUY BRAND X AT ABC MOTORS). This approach is 100% dealer funded but is often heavily subsidized by OEM co-op support programs on eligible ads.
The hard truth is that it’s no longer feasible or cost effective to treat OEM, dealer, and regional advertising budgets as independent entities with different creative goals and mutually exclusive objectives. The lines are now forever blurred based on the proliferation of consumer touchpoints, increasingly exorbitant marketing costs, the entry of segment disrupters and rapidly evolving consumer preferences.
The traditional automotive three-tier approach needs to be re-engineered to meet today’s market dynamics. As currently structured, it heavily splinters available budgets to marginalize the collective spend and also highly fragments the messaging so that all benefits of scale are lost when a Tier I spot often bears little or no resemblance to its Tier II or Tier III brand brethren.
Unite Digital firmly believes that every ad has the innate ability to both build the brand AND provide compelling retail messaging that will resonate with consumers. You don’t have to choose between one or the other or build distinct ads with separate budgets to accomplish those objectives. Aggregating the spend with a unified message can have a tremendous multiplier effect on the perceived reach and frequency of the campaign.
Unite Digital has recently tested that model and experienced success using a new regional marketing platform we leveraged on behalf of Mitsubishi Motors North America (MMNA) in two executions for the 2022 Eclipse Cross and then the 2022 Outlander. Both approaches used identical creative across all tiers to combine the brand-building power of Tier I with the strong retail messaging prowess of Tier III to create a more effective cross-tier strategy that generated immediate lead volumes and drove incremental traffic and sales activity directly to dealer showrooms.
How it works
The strategy utilized powerful Tier I creative, featuring Franz Ferdinand’s Take Me Out (Eclipse Cross) and AC/DC’s Thunderstruck (Outlander) music, which was then customized with dealership branding and a choice of compelling retail offers (i.e., loyalty, warranty, lease payment) for the all-new 2022 Eclipse Cross and 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander, respectively.
Mitsubishi funded the entire production cost of the spots, and dealers funded their own advertising budgets to place the ads in their local market. Thus, dealers got the best of both worlds – the benefit of high-quality creative assets with big-ticket musical talent rights while retaining the ability to tag and customize messaging for their local Mitsubishi TV and radio spots.
The results speak for themselves – the first execution running in the spring for the Eclipse Cross, with Franz Ferdinand’s Take Me Out, yielded a 50 percent increase in lead volumes among participating dealers.
The second execution featuring AC/DC’s hit Thunderstruck is running now and yielding a five-fold increase in lead volumes among participating dealers on a comparable year-over-year basis.
In both cases, agency partners worked in close collaboration with MMNA, Unite Digital and MMNA’s National Advisory Board dealer partners, ensuring a cohesive and memorable set of creative deliverables that differentiate the brand for a national audience while providing an aligned and targeted platform for locally customized executions.
Why it Works
Unite’s approach leverages OEM high-quality media, music and creative to provide dealers with personalized broadcast, radio, digital and social assets with a direct-to-dealer message that would be out of reach of any individual dealership’s budget.
Delivering the benefits of traditional Tier I branding with the scale of Tier III messaging achieves the following:
- Extends reach and effectiveness by delivering a consistent message with high-quality advertising, product and service features across all tiers.
- Provides a comprehensive asset set for broadcast, digital, and connected TV with integrated dealer price points, logos and URLs.
For years, OEMs have aggregated budgets for regional advertising but sent the traffic to separately branded Tier II websites. As a result, many customers abandon the brand, confused by a disjointed shopping experience.
Unite Digital’s regional marketing platform unifies the shopping experience by enabling dealers to integrate their branding and price points directly into high-budget advertising that drives traffic directly to their own digital properties. The result is a truly seamless customer experience that yields increased lead volume.
Our goal at Unite Digital is to provide messaging and marketing efficiency by seamlessly bringing dealers, consumers and OEs together on one axis where our customers spend less money to generate more sales. It’s what we call the Unite Digital approach.
Dave Zuchowski is the chief strategy officer for Unite Digital. He is an accomplished automotive industry veteran with more than 40 years of broad leadership experience in retailing, sales and field operations among the OEM, retailer, agency and solution provider sectors. Dave most recently served as president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America, executive vice president of sales at Hyundai, senior vice president of Dealer Operations at Mazda North America and national director of Field Operations at Ford Motor Company. Additionally, Dave has served as the chief commercial officer for the Automotive Broadcasting Network (ABN) – one of the largest automotive digital signage companies in the United States, and chief investment officer for the BW Automotive Group – a ten-store dealer group doing business with seven brands across four states.
Founded in January 2016 by industry veteran Stacey Coopes, Unite Digital helps brands connect with their distribution partners and technology solutions to deliver unparalleled digital experiences. Unite Digital’s focus includes building certified digital programs, digital marketing, traffic generation, lead optimization, online-offline retail integration and customer retention and loyalty strategies. Its leadership team has more than 125 years of combined automotive and digital experience from strategic leadership, global business development, brand positioning and marketing, sales and service optimization, and information technology. For more information, visit www.unitedigital.com.