Automakers are Missing Out on Lineup Ads

Advertising the entire line, instead of a single model, used to be common in the car industry. It is hard to think of a valid reason not to bring lineup ads back

I bet you do not remember much about car lineup ads. If you were born in the 1990s or later, I would say you have never even heard of such a thing. Since that is the case, let me cut to the chase: that term means a piece of advertisement, generally a TV commercial, made for an automaker’s lineup. Not a single model, but the entire line. Most of them came right at the time to advertise the maker’s new model year.

Some of those articles were objective; they wanted to show new prices and payment plans. Others played an educational role, especially when the automaker was new in the country. And there were abstract ones here and there; we can say that their goal was to celebrate the connection between the automaker and its customers. This article walks you through a type of car ads which should have never been abandoned.

Older car lineup ads were an important source of information in pre-Internet times

What are those car ads?

Normally, automakers advertise one model at a time. It makes sense because each one has an individual image and specific attributes. Not to mention that, ideally, each model targets a different customer type. Individual ads usually feature one of those targeted customers living whether a common situation of their everyday life or another one that would be desirable to them, like starting a family, retiring to relax etc.

Fiat’s 1993 lineup ad for Brazil

Car lineup ads are different. They are collective, as you might have figured; they send a message from the whole automaker. It is the opposite approach and that is what makes it interesting. Viewers have a chance to see everything it offers, from its compact models to its luxury ones. The ads would often show the cars on the street, alternating individual moments with group footage. But there is much more to that.

In this type of automotive ad, the automaker is selling itself. It strives to show not only that it can cater to multiple types of customers, but also that it is desirable to all of them. That notion has led some of those lineup ads to show cars in angles and actions which individual works could never replicate. In this article, the following topics show the most common cases of those actions along with some actual examples.

In the USA, automakers would use group car commercials to show new financing conditions

Lineup ads to boost sales

This is the most rational type of those TV commercials. As the video above shows, the company presents footage of all the target cars being driven around. That acts as a dynamic illustration of each model while the speaker lists the latest sales conditions. Those could be a new price bonus, a financing plan with lower interest rates, a leasing plan with lower monthly payments, and so forth. They were common in the USA.

Old car advertisement for AMC’s Buyer’s Protection Plan

In case you have not noticed, those lineup ads were essentially a video equivalent of sales flyers. Showing cars like that helped people see more of the ones in which they were already interested and brought the others into consideration. Besides, techniques such as fractional pricing when showing monthly payments are a market classic. People looking for a compact car would realize they could afford a midsize one.

AMC’s lineup ad above is an example of a variation of this topic. The maker released a Buyer’s Protection Plan for all the cars it sold then, so it was only natural to feature them all on the video. That was important to educate people about the service and to make it clear it was available to all cars. Keep in mind that the ad ran at a time when there was no website for people to check such information at their own pace.

Chevrolet used a group auto advertisement to show its first car lineup in Brazil, back in the 1970s

Lineup ads to educate people

Let us hold on to the last idea. Decades ago, people had a different relationship with information. When it comes to cars, specialized magazines and auto shows were the primary sources for the latest news in this industry. However, only car enthusiasts bothered to use either of those. In practice, the typical customer would rely on the salespeople at the closest dealership and/or on the knowledge of a friend or a relative.

One of the best car ads made by AMC in the 1970s

This type of car ads would present the very lineup to people. They were usually longer videos, once again with real-world footage, and featured a detailed explanation of each car. Chevrolet, for example, used the video above in the 1970s, when its car lineup was new in Brazil. It mentions the purpose of each car, along with its qualities. It even includes a 360° spin to make their visual differences clearer for everyone.

AMC deserves another spot here. In the 1970s and 1980s, it was succumbing to a vicious circle. It was the smallest automaker in the USA because people did not buy its cars, and people did not buy them because AMC was small. The company decided to work on that on the TV, with lineup ads to effectively let people know it existed. And, of course, to take the opportunity and show which car models it had to offer.

The zig-zagging cars make that lineup ad more satisfying than it needs to be, don’t you think?

Lineup ads for the joie de vivre

This is the category that inspired me to write this article in the first place. Lineup ads that showed… the car lineup. Not one model. TV ads like that flourished especially in Brazil in the late 1980s. They would depict a series of typical situations, usually positive and/or funny, combined as if they all happened in the same day. And, of course, they showed the automaker’s car models helping their owners throughout that day.

1990 Volkswagen car lineup ad in Brazil

Those lineup ads were a beautiful way to integrate the company in people’s lives. Viewers would think of similar situations in their lives, remember a funny story to tell the relatives, or simply enjoy a relaxed time without being bombarded by prices and payment methods. The maker, on the other hand, could show its cars in their target environments while staying away from all those explicit marketing techniques.

We can say that those commercials followed the marketing funnel strategy at the top level. Some of them did not have a single number; they wanted to present the company’s lineup to the public. They wanted to show how those cars could match our lifestyles. In times when there fewer sources of information, using one as popular as TV for such a non-commercial purpose was a nice form of quality contact with people.

The new 7 Series’ ad is a typical example of what the car industry has done lately

Nowadays, we only see individual car ads like BMW’s above. They have become much more sophisticated, of course; some are comparable to mini movies with a whole plot. However, they are still different from a lineup ad. They are not better nor worse; the only problem is that the car industry is missing out on such an interesting marketing tool. Would you like to see group ads like those made for modern car lineups?

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