LOS ANGELES -- What’s on the minds of some of the top marketing gurus in the automotive industry? Sports and diversity.
That’s according to a quartet of executives who took to the stage Tuesday afternoon here at the Westin Bonaventure hotel as part of Automotive News’ annual L.A. Marketing Seminar.
More than 900 attendees packed a ballroom to hear how Nissan, Toyota, Honda and Hyundai are using marketing to lure new buyers.
With U.S. demographics rapidly becoming more diverse, it’s essential for any brand to cast a wide -- and multicultural -- net.
“If you are not fully engaged 100 percent in aggressively pursuing your multicultural opportunities, folks, shame on you, because this is the way of the future,” Fred Diaz, senior vice president of Nissan sales and marketing in the U.S., told the capacity crowd.
Thirty-six percent of Nissan’s sales are to multicultural consumers, and sales to these customers are “growing exponentially every year,” Diaz said.
Jack Hollis, Toyota Motor Sales’ group vice president for marketing, echoed his sentiments.
“For those of you who are here who are Caucasian, you’ve always been the majority, you will become the minority,” by 2044, Hollis said of projected U.S. demographics.
This means a brand needs to use marketing that sometimes speaks on a level that’s deeper than a customer’s heritage.
Thus, both Nissan and Toyota turned to family ties in their Super Bowl ad campaigns this past year. Nissan’s “With Dad” spot for its racing program and upcoming Maxima sedan and Toyota’s Camry spot each focused on the relationship between fathers and their kids.
“It doesn’t matter what culture you’re in, the relationships that you build ... are still going to mean a little bit more to you, and that is culturally relevant,” Hollis said.
This is a key reason sports are a useful marketing outlet: They have a broad reach.
With less of a budget than many of its rivals, Hyundai figured out that the best way for it to reach any particular audience was to become what that audience loves -- which more often than not is sports.
The brand was able to do this with campaigns geared around college football and World Cup soccer, according to speaker David Matathia, director of marketing communications at Hyundai.
“Football [soccer] fans are nuts,” Matathia told Tuesday’s crowd. “They will do some really sometimes questionable things in service and in love of country or of team.”
By aligning themselves with such a fanatical audience, Hyundai stays relevant to that group of people. By staying relevant with its marketing, the audience can then spread Hyundai’s message for the automaker.
“They’re in control, we’re not,” Matathia said.
Social media can play a big role in an audience carrying a brand’s message for it. But only if that company creates advertising or content that its audience “wants to absorb,” Pete Imwalle said in his speech on Tuesday. Imwalle is the COO of RPA, the lead advertising agency for Honda.
“You have to find the things that people are going to invite in because otherwise they’re going to skip it,” he said.
This is why the Super Bowl ads remain the Holy Grail for companies looking to make an impression year after year. It’s a fail-safe venue to create ads that people will actively seek out and share on their own.
“It’s all about finding ways to get people to want the marketing that we’re doing,” Imwalle said.