Cadillac commercials were hot, and spots for the Saturn Vue were not, according to survey results from CNW Marketing/Research.
The week of April 1, CNW surveyed 400 people ages 25 through 60 who plan to buy a vehicle within three months.
The company asked them to score 46 TV spots, which had run the previous three to four months, by answering the question: How has this commercial impacted your opinion of the brand?
Consumers rated the latest Mercedes-Benz SL 500 commercial their favorite, with a score of 9.6 out of a possible 10.
The spot travels through time to the tune of "Unchained Melody." In it, a woman drives several generations of the SL, from the 1960s to the present.
"The purpose here is to get a sense of likability of the characters in the ads and what that does to the likability of the company and products it offers," said Art Spinella, general manager of CNW in Bandon, Ore.
"Mercedes did something different: they reconnected with their own heritage," Spinella said.
"They had been trying to be hip and aim at a younger audience, which is good, but they've been losing some of their appeal among historic buyers."
Mercedes' ad agency, Merkley Newman Harty in New York, created the spot as part of its "Unlike any other" campaign.
Cadillac also fared well with two commercials for the CTS sports sedan, scoring 9.1 and 8.7.
"Using Led Zeppelin ended up being dramatic for them," Spinella said. "When we broke down 'What do you like?' Led Zeppelin ended up with a 9.5 among all age groups."
Cadillac's ad agency is D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles in Troy, Mich.
Lexus lays an egg
While breaking through advertising clutter is a primary concern for automakers, some marketers have bigger things to worry about. They actually turned people off with their latest commercials.
Lexus, for example, took last place for the week with a 3.1 score on a spot for the IS 300.
A score from 1 to 4 indicates that the commercial undermined the viewer's opinion of the brand. In Lexus' spot, parents tell their young daughter they bought her a new CD player - in a new IS 300.
"Even if you have more money than brains, why would you give your 18-year-old daughter a Lexus?" Spinella said. "We found it stamped Lexus' arrogance. If you associate with arrogance, you tarnish the brand image."
Lexus aired the commercial only during the winter holiday season.
Team One Advertising in El Segundo, Calif., created the spot.
Bill Ford wins 'em over
CNW started the weekly surveys in January. As the firm began examining data for the week of April 8, Spinella said: "The Saturn Vue stuff just gets worse; it deteriorated from an already bad score, while the Bill Ford stuff has gotten stronger over time. People can relate to him."
In current TV spots, Ford Motor Co. Chairman Bill Ford talks about his family's company, past and present.
Two Vue commercials shrink the sport-utility to become the tiny prey of a puma in one spot and giant ants in the other. The Vue commercials scored 3.2 the week of April 1 but slipped into the 2s the week of April 8, while Ford's spots averaged 8.0.
Saturn on Jan. 31 dumped Publicis & Hal Riney in San Francisco, the ad agency that created the Vue campaign.
The division has not shown work by its new agency, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco.