To boost its market identity, Fowler Holding Co. began 2001 with a new advertising strategy for its four franchises in Norman, Okla. Focusing on radio and TV spots, the "Follow Me to Fowler" awareness campaign paired a catchy jingle with down-home humor in what its in-house developer calls "entertainment commercials."
"Oklahoma City is a very competitive television market," says Chad Stalcup, president of Skyline Media, which was formed as a division of Fowler Holding. "You'll see 10 to 13 car commercials in a typical 30-minute space, so you have to do something different to break through the clutter."
Stalcup, who not only stars in the ads but writes, produces and edits them and oversees their placement, took the emphasis on his 30-second spots off displaying and pricing cars. Instead, the audience has followed Stalcup's boisterous efforts to spread word-of-mouth about Fowler Toyota, Fowler Jeep, Fowler Honda and Fowler Mitsubishi.
This ongoing quest led Stalcup's TV persona to enter a mock nudist colony, ride a hot air balloon over Interstate 35, march with a local high school band and visit a variety of sporting events - all to convince people to follow him to Fowler. To keep the messages fresh, each spot runs for no more than four weeks.
The campaign raised Fowler's metro marketing costs 25 percent last year to $2.28 million, but company President Mike Fowler says viewer response was strong and immediate.
Overall showroom traffic jumped almost 10 percent in the first month, Fowler says. The Honda dealership's market share surged from fifth in the state to first, while the Toyota franchise market share grew from 20 percent in 2001 to 25 percent last year, the he says.
Most importantly, Fowler's sales of new cars and trucks rose 6.4 percent last year to 3,038, from 2,854 in 2001. Used-vehicle sales jumped 10.5 percent to 1,819, from 1,646.